Summary: There's no need to shift expectations here
Pros: Intense driving action the leans towards the simulation end of the spectrum; plenty of driving assists for those who want a more arcade like experience; first-person cockpit mode puts you right in the thick of the action; loads of cars and events to try out; autolog function increases online value.
Cons: Collisions with AI traffic feel cheap and unrealistic; a few minor control issues; EA store attempts to grab money from you at every turn.
Excerpt: I caught quite a bit of flack for my review of Sony's realistic racing simulation Gran Turismo 5 . You see, I gave it less than a perfect score, which some readers didn't quite agree with - to say the least. Look, it's not that it was a bad game, I just found that the developers focused too much on the realism and left out most of the fun.
Conclusion: Need for Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed makes it pretty clear that Electronic Arts is looking to split its premiere racing franchise into two very distinct lines, one dealing with the road-racing experience, complete with the concept of an open world and police chases, and another one that is more simulation focused and is more interested in the pilot's experience.
Excerpt: I don't know if you've noticed, but the car simulation genre is starting to get a little crowded. PC gamers have been playing the hardest of the hardcore games like iRacing and Live for Speed for years, and the console crowd has been catching up with stellar releases like Forza Motorsport 3 and the love-it-hate-it Gran Turismo 5 .
Excerpt: My advice? Don't bother with any of the exterior cameras when playing Shift 2: Unleashed. Just don't. Play it as you'd drive a real car; perched behind the windscreen, head dancing to the contours of the track. Be the driver, not the car. Because in terms of making you believe that you're sat there in the driver's seat, fingers curled around the steering wheel as the car screams around a track at 150mph, Shift 2 has no equal.
Excerpt: Need for Speed has always been a franchise more about replicating the exhilaration of driving than actually offering a simulation of the sport. Everyone wants to chase past police cars and dodge rival street racers, but not everyone is ready for in-depth racing simulation. However, it didn't stop the company from making the well-received Need for Speed Shift, a racing title barreling head-first into the very market Forza and Gran Turismo have settled themselves so nicely...