I played this game using the unofficial community patch by nogripracing, so I have no experience with the Vanilla version. Also I didn't delve deep into the tuning options and online.
As of this writing I clocked in around 37 hours and I am confident to say I really love this game. I played through the first SHIFT and it was my first ever racing game that made the cockpit view comfortable to play with. SHIFT 2 refined the experience with their new Helmet Cam -- The camera is attached to the driver's helmet and it mimics the head movement and shakiness when driving, gives you tunnel vision, and it blurs your vision when you hit a wall. A lot of people say the camera is disorienting, but personally I don't really think so. I was not once disorientated, confused or the effects got in the way of the gameplay. SHIFT 2 is arguably the only racing game that lets you truly be the driver, rather than be the car itself. You feel how scary speed is when driving at 200 miles per hour, underestimate the car, and the car will severely punish you. This what made this game so great for me.
Now for the negatives. The menu system is stylish, but atrocious. The key assignments for the buttons are all over the place. I am playing using the 360 controller and the game can't reassign the button icons to match the controller's.
Earning money is way too easy. Want to buy that certain car? Grind in Quick Race once your driver level is high. Select the Dakota Oval track, set it to one lap and no opponents, and bam, $20,000 per 35 seconds.
Visual customization is basic and practically useless.
The slightest bump and the slightest touch to the dirt will send your car spinning. To be fair, I haven't rammed a car or drove off-road in real life before, but these annoyances can ruin the entire race because the AI suddenly bumped into you or you get sucked to the dirt like a black hole.
Some of the DLCs are way too easy and one DLC broke the game's pace. The Speedhunter pack gives you the drag racing career, quarter mile career and access to some highly tuned cars. The problem is the cars are free to acquire. I won the drag race and quarter mile career without breaking a sweat because I had free access to the stupidly fast Nissan GT-R. Some of these cars can be used to your default career and I breezed past some of the events.
My narrator-guy-person-thing is annoying. I loved the British guy in SHIFT 1 and while the new guy is alright, he's too, uh... Not... I dunno. He's not British-ey and kawaii enough.
I hate drifting. I hate drifting in SHIFT 1, and I hate drifting in SHIFT 2.
The title of the game is stupid. Really? SHIFT 2 Unleashed? What's next? SHIFT 3 Insurrection? SHIFT 4 Reloaded?
Overall I love this game. The negatives are there and noticeable, but the core gameplay, the cars, the races, the tracks, the sights and sounds, are all great.
Posted: December 17th, 2013