Shift 2: Unleashed is a highly challenging and exciting racing game which improves greatly on its predecessor. New features, such as the first-person helmet cam and the reworked graphics engine, make the driving seat a more thrilling place to be than it was in the first game. However, the car handling continues to tread the line between arcade and simulation, without mastering either. While Shift 2 turns the corner from full simulation, a compelling single-player Career mode, great online features and new Autolog integration make it an exciting and well-rounded package overall.
Shift 2 begins very much like the original, with a quick two-lap practice session to help it decide what difficulty level and which driving assists you require. Keeping your car out of the grass and away from the barriers becomes considerably more difficult as you turn off the assists, which means you can increase the challenge as you progress. However, Shift 2 is definitely not a true simulation of driving. The cars have a tendency to understeer in fast corners and oversteer in slow ones. This makes the game more exciting, allowing for big slides and a frantic pace, but it can also cause frustration if you prefer pure simulation, because it’s difficult to predict your car’s behaviour. Faster cars behave inconsistently at the same turn on different laps, so consistent lap times can be elusive. The game doesn’t have a rewind feature, which adds to the frustration if you crash during one of the longer races at the end of the Career mode. The unpredictable handling means you may need to spend a lot of time tweaking the advanced control options as well, especially when using a wheel and pedals because the default settings just aren’t responsive enough.