Shift 2 Preview: The Race For Greater Realism

Posted on December 12, 2010

When you’re racing against seasoned pros like Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo, you can’t afford to take your foot off the pedal. Though critics hailed Need For Speed Shift as a solid racing sim, developer Slightly Mad Studios knows it needs to improve on the little things if it wants to find itself in pole position in the subgenre. For Shift 2, the team is opening the hood and making some tweaks to the game’s already competent racing engine.

First and foremost, Slightly Mad Studios wants to better capture the visceral nature of racing. A driver isn’t just taking on other racers; he or she must also battle the track and the car to come out on top. The new helmet cam tries to capture the intensity of the cockpit experience by adding movement to the normally fixed camera perspective. This subtle change gives you the feeling of speeding along at hundreds of miles per hour. The driver’s head jerks forward when you slam on the breaks, bobs backward as you kick the car into a higher gear, and looks into turns to help you spot the appropriate line.

In further service to the cause of realistic racing, Slightly Mad is revamping the AI. In the last game drivers were sometimes overly aggressive, as if they were more concerned with dueling you than they were with placing. This year their attention is focused on coming out on top, and the dev team is giving them more varied brake points on turns to make them more humanlike. If they brake too early or late, that can be the opportunity you need to make a pass. With the FIA GT1 World Championship license in their back pocket, EA also plans to use the Need For Speed sponsored racers as boss battles.

Though EA didn’t go into details, the company claims Shift fans can also look forward to a revamped career mode, deeper car tuning system that lets you more accurately achieve the kind of performance you want from your vehicle, and more realistic car damage. We’ll find out if these changes can earn Shift 2 a place at the podium next spring.


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