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Shift 2 Unleashed Review
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Shift 2 Unleashed, EA’s follow-up to their Need For Speed series racing sim, is now available from the app store. Featuring new locales, new vehicles, improved graphics, and Origin integration for social gaming elements, Shift 2 Unleashed doesn’t bring a lot of innovation but it does continue to provide a high level of racing excitement that the casual user can enjoy.

Shift 2 Unleashed Pros:

  • Solid racing sim action with nice graphics
  • Action-oriented soundtrack
  • Responsive tilt controls and plenty of racing assists that can be toggled on or off
  • New courses, new vehicles, Origin challenges

Shift 2 Unleashed Cons:

  • Doesn’t innovate in any way
  • No online multiplayer racing
  • Drifting challenges continue to drive us nuts

Shift 2 Unleashed brings a variety of game modes to the table, including Quick Race Trials, Single Race, Multiplayer, Race Friends, and Career. Race Friends requires you to open an Origin account, joining EA’s new social gaming network to enter leaderboard challenges that compare your top scores against those of your friends. Multiplayer gives you local Head-To-Head and Wi-Fi options to race against your buddies in various events like Best Line, Corner Master, Dirty Overtake, Slipstream, and much more. For the less social racers, you can enjoy Quick Race Trials where you enter challenges like Sprint, Drift, Time Trial, Points Challenge, Clean Race Challenge, and Racing Line Challenge, with multiple objectives to complete as you try to earn your stars using only the provided vehicles. Single Race lets you pick any unlocked car and tackle any course in a one-off race in a multitude of styles, such as Eliminator, Duel, Circuit, and more. Career brings all of the excitement of Single Race, but you can purchase and upgrade vehicles, as well as earn experience to rank up your driver and earn badges for an assortment of accomplishments. Winning races and cups will net you some bucks to spend on beefing up your fleet and tweaking them to be racing monsters, giving you the advantage necessary to blow away the competition.

The actual racing is very similar to the first iteration of this series, giving you auto-acceleration, auto-braking, best lines to follow, steering assist, simple drifting, and more to make the game appeal to novice racers. Of course, for a real challenge, you can turn off all of these amenities in the Options menu and take your racing fate into your own hands. You can utilize Nitro, too, if you purchase it for your vehicle. This comes in quite handy in the right situation. There are an assortment of classes to work through, limiting car types to even the playing field. Stars are earned for meeting each race requirement, which in turn allows you to unlock additional content. It’s all very standard and reminiscent of the previous version, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s always appreciated when a sequel brings some significant change that betters a game, which Shift 2 Unleashed fails to deliver in a compelling way.

Graphically, Shift 2 Unleashed feels like it’s received a bit of a visual boost since the release of the first version, though it doesn’t approach the likes of Real Racing 2 in any way. Animations are pretty smooth, though we did get occasional stutter on rare occasions. The new locations look very nice, adding a good amount of visual appeal that keeps the game feeling a bit fresher than the previous version. Having a few new vehicles thrown in for good measure also gives you something else to shoot for and tweak. The audio is good, with some rocking tracks to get your adrenaline up and terrific engine sounds and tire squeals for added realism. We did have some drop outs where the engine sounds would disappear when we restarted a race, only to return upon the next restart. Controls use tilt for steering and manual braking by tapping anywhere on-screen. Nitro is initiated and stopped by tapping on the small canister icon. Relevant racing stats (laps, position, % completed, lap time, track time, etc.) reside at the screen top. Camera angles can be changed by tapping the camera button at the screen top, which also includes a cool helmet cam that really puts you in the hot seat.

Replay value is high, with plenty of content to unlock that should require a good deal of grinding to earn enough cash/credits. Of course, you can also utilize the IAP to avoid the time sink and jump straight to the good stuff, if you so choose. It’s nice to finally see EA adding social gaming elements that allow friends to challenge each other, but it would be nice to get some online multiplayer for once. At an surprisingly reasonable introductory price of $2.99 (same as the HD version), Shift 2 Unleashed is a solid pick-up for users new to the genre, but a lot of the same for owners of the original. Shift 2 Unleashed earns a healthy 4-Dimple rating.

Shift 2 Unleashed Review, reviewed by Kevin on 2011-08-08T00:02:24+00:00 rating 4.0 out of 5

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