Shift 2 Unleashed review

  • Sim racing that actually feels fast
  • Being able to select from a variety of events
  • Fully customizable cars
  • Anti-aggressive physics can brutally punish mistakes
  • No rewind feature
  • Bad off track graphics

As with any good sims, there’s a wide range of tuning options for cars, including full engine swaps, body kits, and full race car modifications that can turn even your Mk1 Volkswagen GTI into a fire snorting monster. Shift 2 includes a fantastic option that allows you to sell back any purchased car modifications for a full refund. Low level upgrades are automatically credited towards higher level upgrades, allowing you to experiment without fear of throwing a big wad of hard earned money down the drain. Tuning setups can also be evaluated on a test lap before you commit to them.

Shift 2 does fall short in the graphics department. It’s not horrible by any standard, but in a genre that prides itself on photo-realism, Shift 2 suffers from some jagged edges, long distance draw-in, and some pretty ugly off-track details. Crowds, trees and the like are all unimpressive. Of course you’ll only really notice these shortcomings at the starting line and after collisions, not when you’re blasting by them at 200 mph. Think of them as an incentive not to slow down.

Shift 2’s Drift mode is also a point of contention, as it’s extremely difficult to learn. It’s a total change of pace from regular racing and requires surgical skill with the throttle. The game clearly makes some big changes to the physics engine here, as even low horsepower vehicles will slide around the track like a lubed up hippo in a teflon wok. It’s a gratifying feeling once you figure it out, but the learning curve might be too much for the average player, even by sim standards.

Shift 2’s multiplayer is a little limited, offering a bare bones racing and drifting experience that’s best suited to races with friends only. As a racer who avoids playing with randoms at all costs, this suits me just fine. More important is the game’s inclusion of the SpeedWall and Autolog features introduced in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. As before, these features track your best times and inform other Shift 2 players on your friends list when their (and your) times have been bested. The SpeedWall also includes the Performance Index number of the vehicle they used, so beating your friend’s Ford Focus time with a Pagani Zonda won’t fool anyone.

While Shift 2 is unlikely to woo the arcade crowd over to simulation racing, it’s remedied one of the genre’s biggest problems, a crushing obsession with technical realism over the actual realism of racing. Shift 2 has finally created a racing sim that gives car geeks like myself numbers to tweak, but puts the real focus where it belongs, on the visceral joy of actually racing the car.

Mar 29, 2011

More Info

Release date: Mar 29 2011 - PC, PS3, Xbox 360 (US)
Apr 01 2011 - PC, PS3, Xbox 360 (UK)
Available Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Genre: Racing
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Slightly Mad Studios
Franchise: Need for Speed
ESRB Rating:
Everyone 10+: Mild Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes
PEGI Rating:


  • Loeks - April 19, 2011 9:10 a.m.

    Shift 2 is a great game and I dont give a sh*t about some ugly trees or crowds. It's a racegame ! It's about the Cars and the gameplay. And you only need flashbacks if you can't drive.
  • GP1098 - April 11, 2011 12:54 a.m.

    I think its an alright game, but I think the only thing holding it back are the physics and a small amount at that. Now don't get me wrong, the car customization in terms of race cars is amazing, but I just want a more realistic feeling game.
  • e1337prodigy - April 1, 2011 9:34 p.m.

    I miss grid
  • Burdmayn - April 1, 2011 12:25 p.m.

    Read this review and immediately went out and bought the game. I'm very impressed so far but this review should be front page imo. It got a 9! Even on IGN I had to search for the review, if its good don't hide it!
  • mausjake - April 1, 2011 9:41 a.m.

    I agree with gtarplaya, I had to go looking for the review, I check the site almost everyday and don't remember coming across it.
  • gtarplaya - March 31, 2011 11:56 p.m.

    I think I will pick this game up. Loved Hot Pursuit and found Shift great, except for the horrible physics. The game felt like you were driving on ice whenever you hit a corner. Oh, and bye the way gamesradar, you should repost this review on the front page, because it doesn't look like anyone even knows that you have reviewed it.
  • ASilentCircus - March 31, 2011 10:12 a.m.

    There isn't a single comment on here in 2 days? I didn't mind Shift 1 and loved Hot Pursuit, not sure if I'm gonna grab this or not yet, keep hearing mixed things from everyone. May wait for a sale on it. Every racing game needs a rewind feature, love that in Dirt 2.

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