The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Barely two years ago Electronic Arts entered the sim-racing business
with Shift. It wasn’t the greatest racer, and at the time it made me
wonder what EA and developer Slightly Mad Studios were trying to achieve
by entering the sub-genre. If that title was the foot in the door, then
Shift 2 serves as more of a true introduction for the franchise because
it has enough style to set itself apart.
The series’ overhaul
starts with the great graphics, which don’t just catch your eye, but are
positively arresting. The lighting from car headlights and the
environments in the night races are awesome, and the sense of speed
helps sell the experience. I liked the helmet cam, which bobs around as
you attack the corners and decelerate, but even though it’s another aid
that gives you the sensation that your car is going fast enough to break
free and slide out, I got used to it quickly and started not to notice
it. Overall, the graphics give the game an atmosphere and identity that
is stylized enough to stand out and offer more than just realism. This
is no small matter in a field crowded with games trying to look like the
Shift 2 also betters itself by using a basic XP
leveling system in lieu of the old Driver Profile that offers rewards in
five set categories (cash, vinyls, cars, rims, and paint) up to level
20. Still, I’m glad the concept of corner mastering has been retained,
and I like how it’s unobtrusively integrated into the HUD map. I liked
seeing how I was doing on each corner from lap to lap, and it gave me
something to shoot for at every interval on the track.
getting more XP for mastering all the corners of a track is a cool
bonus, Shift 2 doesn’t solve the larger problem in racing games of how
to lead the player through a large amount of races and still have them
feel interested at the end of it all. It has race variants like Time
Attack, Duel, and Elimination, but the tenth race feels the same as the
twentieth. Shift 2 tries to inject some excitement by having real-life
racing stars like Vaughn Gittin Jr. comment on your progress in live
video, but it didn’t work for me. At least the game paces its money and
gift cars easily enough so you’re not left grinding or stuck in a dead
end. A lot of races give you loaner cars, so you don’t have to waste
money on some specialty car only to use it once.
borrowed from Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is about as close as the game
comes to making its mark on racing as a whole, as it posts your best
speeds at a track on the Speed Wall for all your friends to admire. You
can also jump right into the races they’ve finished to try to show them
up or take back your crown. I think it would be cool if the next game
took the Autolog a step further and integrated your friends’ times into
appropriate finish times for Career races not dependant upon AI racers,
like the Hot Lap and Time Attack race types.
Shift 2 defines the
franchise in a way that the first one didn’t. Although the cars can feel
like they swivel on a center axis, the racing is pretty good, and the
overall experience gets a boost from the graphics and the erratic nature
of the AI racers. It doesn’t blow by the competition, but by improving
its lap times, Shift 2 is on its way.
Email the author Matthew Kato, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.