Shift 2 is the sequel to 2009’s Need for Speed: Shift. This second addition all but drops the NFS moniker in an attempt to distance itself from a series which – up till the release of 2010’s Hot Pursuit – had drifted into mediocre territory. Shift 2 aims to bring the raw experience of driving super cars into the foreground by putting aside the car-collecting, simulation based nature of some of its contemparies and instead delivering an exhilarating racing experience.
Shift 2 is a fine looking game, with impressively detailed cars and tracks – of which there are dozens. It’s a joy to gingerly climb into some of the most expensive cars in the world – all of which are recreated with stark authenticity to their real life counterparts – and race around tracks bathed in a stunning sunset. It’s a shame to see this high level of presentation ruined by some unacceptable frame rate issues, which cause regular frustration and can – on occasion – bring the game practically to a standstill. The majority of your time will be spent in the well-designed career mode, which has you rising through the ranks from rookie to superstar, collecting endless cars as you progress to the top.
Shift 2’s motive is clear from the start, and aims to deliver a teeth clenching driving experience which recreates the battles that drivers face out on the track. For the most part, the game succeeds in portraying the brutality of vehicular combat, while some handling issues cause a high difficulty curve and limits appeal. The revolutionary feature introduced in Shift 2 is the helmet cam, which gives an in-car view of what the driver sees as he is hurtling round a race course. Subtle head movements towards the apex of a turn, as well as a slight shift forward as you brake emphasises that you are a passenger in a moving vehicle, instead of the vehicle itself.
In all, Shift 2 is a fantastic racing game which concentrates on delivering gameplay that most other racers haven’t. The gameplay and presentation are both thrilling and beautiful, although both suffer from some frustrating problems. However, if you can put these minor hindrances aside, Shift 2 is a reckless crash course in asphalt war and should not be missed.