Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Shift 2: Unleashed

Shift 2: Unleashed Review

Kid Safe: Very High                     Game Quality: Moderate

Genre: Racing Simulator
-          This game is characterized by the focus on racecar driving. Players will pilot a wide variety of different cars of all makes and models with a heavy focus on beating other vehicles in closed-track races. Street racing is not endorsed.

Internet Requirements: Moderate
-          Shift 2: Unleashed features a moderate amount of internet requirements in the form of online multiplayer. Players are able to engage in online races against other players using a variety of different vehicles. These races will actually build to the experience points and money available to the player in the Single Player Story Mode. It also features "Autolog" which allows players to share and compare their ranks in certain races.

Story Summary: In Shift 2: Unleashed, you take the role of an unnamed driver who is looking to make
his/her name in the world of professional racing. From there, you compete in a variety of different races on tracks and circuits from around the world in your attempt to become a world famous racecar driver. You will progressively unlock and be able to purchase a wide number of vehicles and tune them to your exact specifications to make your dreams possible.

Kid Safe: Very High
-          Foul Language: None
o   To the best of the reviewer's knowledge, Shift 2: Unleashed does not contain any amount of foul language.

-          Violence and Gore: Low
o   Shift 2: Unleashed features a low amount of violence and no amount of gore. As this is a racecar title, players are able to use their cars as a weapon against other drivers to impede or disable them. Players are able to slam their car into others in order to damage or destroy their opponents, although they are discouraged from doing so.
-          Sexually-Related Content: Very Low
o   Shift 2: Unleashed features a low amount of sexually-related content in the form of suggestive nudity. A number of women in the "pit crew" for your vehicle tend to wear low-cut tops that reveal a modest amount of cleavage.

-          Use of Drugs and Alcohol: None
o   To the best of the reviewer's knowledge, Shift 2: Unleashed does not contain any amount of drug or alcohol usage.

Game Quality: Moderate
-          Graphics / Visuals: Very High
o   Shift 2: Unleashed features a very high amount of graphical and visual quality, particular in concerns of the vehicles your pilot and the options available while you are driving. So, given that last part probably sounds a bit confusing, allow me to explain. Shift 2 has put a phenomenal amount of effort into the viewpoints available while driving. Players are able to race with a "top-down view", i.e. looking down at the car on the track, a "hood view", i.e. looking at the road and everything in front of the car as though a camera were mounted on the hood of the vehicle, and a "cockpit view", i.e. simulating exactly what it would be like to be a driver in the cockpit of one of these racecars.

o   The cockpit view is the newest and most refined visual design and deserves certain mention due to the intense amount of work that was put into it. The visuals act as though a camera is literally strapped to the helmet of one of the drivers. A driver's head will bounce around lightly, be shaken violently in the instance of a crash, and even look over at passing drivers or up at the rear-view mirror to keep track of other drivers.

o   Aside from the cockpit view, an amazing amount of work was put into the vehicle details. Every vehicle of every dealership from Ford to BMW are recaptured in excellent detail, and Shift 2 wants to let you know it. You are able to literally go into "picture mode" that will allow you to zoom in, out, and all around to take digital photos of your favorite vehicles. Likewise, while I don't recommend doing it in the midst of a heavy race, players are able to admire their vehicle from quite literally every angle while they are racing about the track.
-          Audio: Moderate
o   Shift 2 really has a moderate amount of audio quality that is mixed between generally boring, repetitive sounds to awesome, exhilarating music. So, starting off with the good, Shift 2 has an absolutely incredible soundtrack. Ranging from a huge variety of artists with a primarily rock and roll edge, every song gets you pumped up and ready to take the next victory in your hands. Each one is there for you and really builds up your excitement for the next track you have to conquer, the next opponent you need to pass.

o   And that is where the problem lies. Given the fact that this is a racing game and there isn't a lot to build tension or emotion short of the music, there should be a lot MORE music in the game. Instead, players are only rewarded with the game's excellent soundtrack for a short time after they beat a race. However, while players are actually racing, the only thing that they have to listen to is the endless drone of engines, the occasional metal on metal bash of a severe car crash, and the uncommon chirps of information from your friend trying to help you into the industry. From there, there really isn't much. It's just dead sound with the hum of an engine.

-          Gameplay / Playability: Moderate
o   Shift 2's gameplay and playability is, to be frank, a real mixed bag. I wasn't quite sure how to rate this one. On the one side, the gameplay, for those that really know vehicles and racecars, is exceptional; probably some of the best that I have ever seen in a racing game. On the other side, the gameplay is just so in depth and so heavily detailed that your average user will not fully grasp or be able to enjoy.

o   So, to really explain what we mean by this, Shift 2: Unleashed covers just about everything I could think of when it comes to racecar driving. Players are, obviously, able to select and purchase their vehicle from any number of different makes and models. From there, they are able to upgrade and tune EVERYTHING on their vehicle, whether it be to get a newer and faster engine, maybe upgrade the rods and pistons in their block, tune the brake system, or even dictate just how much weight and air pressure is being set to each tire. Did any of that sound confusing to you? That's my point. This title is ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT for anyone who actually knows vehicles, covering just about every point they could ever want. Yet, for that exact point, your average player, esp. a younger gamer, will have absolutely no idea how to handle or build their vehicle.

o   To the game's credit, it does include recommendations on how to handle certain situations, provide you a recommended "track" (dictated by colored arrows) to follow while racing, and explanations on what each tune or upgrade will do to your vehicle, but it just isn't enough. A lot of my time was dedicated to pure trial, error, and consulting a Nascar-employed friend of mine. From there, it was just slowly trying to understand the game mechanics and praying that I didn't need to upgrade or tune anything on my car in order to get ahead.
-          Dollar-Value: Moderate
o   Overall, much like the gameplay and playability, Shift 2's dollar-value is just a mixed bag. If you are big into the racecar scene and really like racing vehicles, this game is worth absolutely every penny. You will get a huge amount of very sharp and detailed gameplay, hours upon hours and game time, and a wide variety of both vehicles and upgrades to explore. Yet, on the flip side, if you don't know a great deal about racecars or vehicles, you will probably find yourself left in the dust with nothing but ongoing frustration as you try and figure out how to make your car do what you want it to do. So, in short, if you like cars, definitely buy it! Likewise, if you don't know alot about cars, it's probably best to wait til this one has come down a bit more in price.

-          As Shift 2 has a high amount of Kid Friendly-ness, we do not need to recommend any games due to mature content. However, if you are looking for other racing simulators, we recommend just about any of the Need for Speed series, the Forza Motorsports series, or the Gran Turismo series. Note: Forza is exclusive to Xbox360, Gran Turismo is exclusive to the PlayStation 3.

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