Driving the Nürburgring in the Mk1; check out the interior detail
While it’s hard to pull us away from games like Call of Duty and Halo, we have a sweet spot for racing simulators. We must admit to many hours on Gran Turismo and Forza, but there’s a new kid in town. Electronic Arts, along with developer Slightly Mad Studios, has got us hot and bothered with its new release Need for Speed Shift 2: Unleashed.
This isn’t your typical video game where there might be tricks or cheats to go faster. This is as real as racing gets, where the performance of the car translates to genuine lap times. The developers collaborated with several professional racecar drivers to ensure the game play and details were as real as possible. The graphics are also a step up thanks to a new rendering engine.
One of the game’s most interesting features is the helmet-cam view. It simulates a driver’s view on the track with detailed cockpit layouts and vision through the side windows. You can even see the vision narrow as the car exceeds 200mph, but also feel every bump in the road and experience g-force as the driver leans for apexes.
The single-player campaign has been improved, with many different levels to improve your driving skills. You start in grassroots racing and build up to FIA European GT3 and GT1 championships both of which are officially licensed.
The online component is far from forgotten. Made popular by the original NFS Shift game, Autolog allows you to connect with players around the world. You can go head-to-head or compete in Time Attack.
In the Time Attack mode, you set lap times on different tracks using your own car, alerting your friends when you beat them and allowing them to try to beat your record.
But a racing game is as only good as its cars. And NFS doesn’t disappoint. With over 120 licensed cars, there’s something for everybody. We had the opportunity to talk with a developer and discovered they did their homework to attract the Euro crowd. The game includes every BMW M3 from today’s E92 to yesterday’s E30. For the VW crowd, there’s the new Scirocco, Mk5 GTI and even the Mk1 GTI a car many video games have neglected.
Mk1 VW GTI with Berg Cup widebody, cage and ATS wheels
Customization options are almost limitless but designed to resemble what you can do in the real world if you had the budget. Change out the intake, exhaust, brakes, tires, body kit, etc. The list goes on and on
For the Mk1, we had the joy of fitting parts such as Euro bumpers or a Berg Cup widebody kit. There were also ATS, BBS
and Schmidt wheels to keep our GTI even more legit. As for the M3, we could build a simple racecar setup or go crazy with a Le Mans widebody conversion. The possibilities are fascinating and that’s before you get to the custom paint and graphics area!
And if you think the modifications were just for show, think again. Each part adjusts the settings of the car, affecting handling and performance just like in the real world.
After each change, the game calculates your top speed, 0-60, handling, braking, horsepower and torque ratings. Advanced tuning even allows gear ratios, tire pressures, damper settings and more to be set. There’s so much realism in Shift 2, it might take a certified race tech to set everything up properly.
So enough about the game How about owning your own copy of Need for Speed Shift 2: Unleashed? We’ll be giving away ten copies to our friends on Facebook. Simply visit facebook.com/eurotunermag and like our page. From there, we’ll reveal more details about how you can win a free copy for your XBox360, PS3 or PC from eurotuner.