Having just received my shiny new copy of EA’s latest racer – Shift 2. I though I’d share my first impressions, ahead of it’s release this Friday (April 1st) to give you a flavor of what’s in store for any budding petrol heads thinking of picking it up.

For the who played first Need For Speed Shift, you’ll know it’s far more of a realistic racer in the same vein as Gran Turismo, as opposed to EA stable mates Burnout or previous NFS titles like Hot Pursuit and Underground. However Shift 2 isn’t as serious as GT nor is it as ‘arcadey’ as it’s prequel. Gone are the Precision vs. Aggressive driving styles, in favour of a single tier progressive career, although XP is still given for mastering corners, keeping to the race line and general driving skills shown whilst on the track. Many of the real world tracks also make the leap from the first game. As with all other Need For Speed titles, the cars featured in Shift 2 all come from real world manufacturers, although their numbers don’t come close to what’s offered in GT5 what is available looks great and every car has the ability to be driven in NFS Shifts greatest feature – in-car view. This has been taken a step further from the first game, with the addition of ‘Helmet Cam’ it still others the beautifully detailed in-car view created for NFS Shift but builds on it by giving you a true Drivers viewpoint – as you approach corners the driver’s head ‘will turn, lean and focus on it’ this really adds a new layer of immersion to the humble racing genre.

Other new features include Night Racing, which looks amazing and the inclusion of Criterion Games – Autolog, which allows players to challenge friends, recommend events and generally show off. Dubbed as Autolog 2.0 in Shift 2 my initial thoughts are that I prefer how it was presented in Hot Pursuit, it just seemed that much slicker. Although I must point out none of my PSN friends have the game yet so I may change my opinion on that down the line.

Other features worth noting are the ability to upload replays to YouTube and ‘Need for Speed VIP’ which rewards owners of previous Need For Speed titles with additional cars and cash.

So first impressions are good, it builds on what was achieved in the first Shift game and adds a whole new level features and sheen. So if you feel the need, the Need For Speed – Shift 2 Unleashed is out this Friday April 1st – see you on the track.

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