When I grow up, I want to be a race car driver.
A car begins to reach 200 mph. In the camera view of the cockpit, the screen sways from the momentum of the car as turns sharply around a corner. It zooms in as the car breaks abruptly, lunging the driver forward, and zooms out as the driver presses the gas pedal, pushing him back into the seat. A threatening turn approaches and the high-speed adrenaline clouds the driver's judgment. The screen shakes violently as the car flips over and slams into nearby barrels in front of a concrete wall, changing a pristine race car into a steel scrap box and leaving the driver breathless.
[image1]That's what it felt like to play Shift 2 Unleashed at a recent Electronic Arts showcase. The game, continuing from its predecessor, is an intense ride that emphasizes an authentic viewpoint from the cockpit of a race car. It was stressed that the main goal of the Shift series is to deliver a unique racing simulation by imitating what actual race car drivers experience in first person. The developers know their competition as well – quality over quantity couldn’t be more fitting for Shift 2. Instead of offering over 1,000 cars, like in Gran Turismo 5, developers are offering an estimate of over 100 cars. They prefer to focus on each genuine race cars to provide players with a realistic experience than to put forth a hefty garage of race cars.
Not only do cars fall apart in the game, but the tracks eventually become unstable from the wear and tear of racers abusing them. Parts of cars fall off from crashing into walls or other players and stay on the track for the remainder of the race. That’s right. Car parts won’t disappear and they become hazards for any race car in their path. The picture-perfect racetrack slowly becomes a canvas for debris and tire marks. Dirt kicks up from the ground onto the windshield, and cruel streaks of black scratch lines from accidentally being side-swiped mar a car's once kick-ass paint job.
[image2]There are a couple of time changes which players can set to race in, such as dusk and night. The glare of the sun seeps through the car’s front window, partially blinding the driver but fades away once the player drives in the opposite direction. During nighttime, however, the sole source of light comes from the car’s headlights, a stunning effect during turns and obstacles in the dark.
The autolog system from Hot Pursuit is now in Shift 2, where it allows players to compete with friends online, complete challenges, and share stats and images which have been gained throughout the time playing. Although there are new race tracks, cars, and even a system which gives a boost to competitive online play, the game’s main focus is still giving players an accurate depiction on what it feels like to be in the driver’s seat of a race car. Find out if Shift 2 succeeds in its goal in our review, when the game releases next year.