Generally favorable reviews - based on 70 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 62 out of 70
  2. Negative: 0 out of 70
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  1. Apr 13, 2011
    Shift 2 is not quite a full-realism simulator, but it's not exactly an arcade game either. The Xbox controller makes precise control difficult at best, but configuration settings and driving aids can help tame the unruly driving quirks. The evolutionary Helmet Cam provides a nice boost of realism.
  2. May 2, 2011
    When it comes to racing games I generally prefer fantasy and fun, especially when the NFS brand is being used, but Shift 2 Unleashed successfully blurs those lines of fun versus realistic sim creating a unique and highly competitive, flexible, and totally addicting experience that rewards your mastery of skillful driving techniques and track memorization, making this the most enjoyable racing "sim" I've played on my Xbox 360 to date.
  3. Mar 29, 2011
    Shift 2 successfully hits its target: delivering an exciting racing experience, highlighting all the aspects that make magic in motorsports. Hardcore racing lovers won't find it a super-simulative experience even in the new Elite mode, but its accessible driving model, spectacular visuals and great challenge level will please every fan of the genre.
  4. Apr 4, 2011
    Shift 2: Unleashed takes its rightful place between the "behemoths" of the industry, such as Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport. And this is achieved through the most realistic helmet camera ever, a superb sense of driving, great graphics and the all-mighty Autolog!
  5. Apr 4, 2011
    This is one of the best driving games published in this generation of consoles, polishing everything that could be improved in the first game.
  6. Apr 2, 2011
    Shift 2: Unleashed is a must own for anyone who loves racing. The feeling of racing is perfectly recreated here and the love for the sport that Slightly Mad Studios have oozes out all over the game.
  7. Apr 1, 2011
    Pressure -- be it from the oppressive ambient noise, to the sense of speed, to the just-on-the-edge-of-control grip -- is what made the original Need for Speed Shift such a shock to the system. Pressure is what makes racing fun, and Shift 2 Unleashed is fit to burst.
  8. Mar 31, 2011
    With the release of Shift 2 Unleashed, the Need For Speed franchise now holds the distinction of representing the best of arcade-style and simulation racing on consoles. It's an evolution of the original -- not a revolution, but still markedly improved across the board -- and a worthy sequel, easy recommendation for those who enjoyed the first game and great entry point to "real" racing in general.
  9. Mar 31, 2011
    Despite not being another "Real Driving Simulator", Shift 2: Unleashed is one of the best driving experiences of this generation.
  10. Mar 30, 2011
    Shift 2 has finally created a racing sim that gives car geeks like myself numbers to tweak, but puts the real focus where it belongs, on the visceral joy of actually racing the car.
  11. Mar 29, 2011
    Thanks to the quality of its singleplayer and multiplayer, the richness of contents and, most of all, the realism of the whole driving experience, Shift 2: Unleashed proves to be one of the best, if not the best, driving simulator currently on the market. Turn 10 and Polyphony have now found a worthy rival.
  12. Mar 29, 2011
    It really emproves on its predecessor's original formula. The simulation feels more tight and controlled, and at the same time gifted with an incredible first person driving experience. It might not be suited to simulation fanatics, for its sometimes forgiving and inaccurate phisycs, but it is once again an original and thrilling take on Turismo driving. Excellent graphics, Autolog, a long career mode and some multiplayer goodness make it worth all of its price.
  13. 90
    This excellent sequel capitalizes on its precursor's strengths while breaking some fresh ground for the simulation genre. With its snazzy additions, sharper visuals, and gearhead-focused customization options, Shift 2 Unleashed strikes a fine balance between appealing to sim newbies and grizzled vets.
  14. Mar 29, 2011
    Shift 2 is technically very impressive, but like Hot Pursuit, it's the social features surrounding the game that define it as an experience. If you're a serious fan of the genre, know that Shift 2 does several things better than anything else on the market right now, which makes it an essential purchase.
  15. Mar 30, 2011
    Refines the strengths of the first game and extends their value indefinitely through the competitive environment of autolog. There aren't any breakthrough new features here, but this is a racer that will constantly push you to improve and make you sweat under the pressure.
  16. Mar 29, 2011
    Shift 2: Unleashed builds upon the firm base of the previous game and offers more features and better features. More tracks, vehicles and multiplayer options thanks to the inclusion of the social system Autolog, and also better physics and simulation, which have improved the right way. It is not a perfect simulation experience, but will please most gamers.
  17. Apr 11, 2011
    Though it still can't be considered as a full-fledged racing sim, it is a great game to play.
  18. Apr 1, 2011
    The only real negative are the unskippable tutorials that you get, featuring racing champ Vaughn Gittin Jr. Really, there's no way to get past his pep talks, and we really could've done without them for the most part.
  19. Apr 1, 2011
    SHIFT 2 Unleashed does some things differently and gives the franchise the extra boost to completely dissociate itself from the arcade experience that Need For Speed is known for.
  20. Games Master UK
    Apr 1, 2011
    Less scientific simulator, more heart-pumping race experience. Not a GRID beater but still ace. [May 2011, p.86]
  21. Mar 31, 2011
    The helmet-cam is a revelation of exciting perspective in a genre who's main innovations come in the form of physics-tweaking or creative power-ups on the arcade side of things.
  22. Mar 31, 2011
    There is everything a good racing game needs. Fast cars, nice tracks and great vision. Shift 2 Unleashed is the perfect combination of arcade and simulation racing. EA has done everything to make a game for a broad audience. Hardcore gamers on both sides will not be fully happy.
  23. Apr 3, 2011
    Embellishing the high-impact racing simulation even further, Shift 2 proves enough appeal for both racing purists and casual fans.
  24. Mar 29, 2011
    Much like the original SHIFT, SHIFT 2: Unleashed does a great job of being that hardcore sim that's not too hardcore for the more casual, arcade racer to get into. It's a perfect bridge between something like NFS: Hot Pursuit and Forza.
  25. Apr 21, 2011
    Shift 2 is a better game than its forebear, although it's still perhaps a bit of an acquired taste. Visually, it's an improvement and the handling and gameplay can be as realistic or as forgiving as you like. Hats off to Slightly Mad for taking on-board the criticisms levelled at the first Shift, addressing them and then some. Shift 2 kicks things up a gear, that's for sure.
  26. Apr 15, 2011
    One of the most authentic racing games of all time – unfortunately, not the best of all time. One of the things that holds it back is the sometimes unfair enemy AI.
  27. Apr 9, 2011
    Shift 2 Unleashed is a great racing game, with some nice touches like the helmet cam or the presence of rubber on the tracks. But its frantic gameplay makes the Elite game mode the only one that's truly playable and realistic. Overall, the AI is excellent, and that's nice. Recommended for all the racing fans out there.
  28. Mar 29, 2011
    A violent and immersive racer that recreates the driving experience like no other game on the market. In doing so it builds well on the first Shift's foundations, benefitting from Slightly Mad Studios' more refined touch and the inclusion of Autolog, but its handling is still too loose and its steps forward too small for it to truly beat Gran Turismo and Forza – although it does enough to ensure that it's pulled ever closer.
  29. Mar 29, 2011
    Shift 2 defines the franchise in a way that the first one didn't. Although the cars can feel like they swivel on a center axis, the racing is pretty good, and the overall experience gets a boost from the graphics and the erratic nature of the AI racers. It doesn't blow by the competition, but by improving its lap times, Shift 2 is on its way.
  30. Apr 18, 2011
    Like the original, Shift 2 is a flawed sim but still manages to become greater than the sum of its parts. The wonky handling and annoying load times haven't been completely eliminated, while the new reduced methods of earning XP make getting through career mode more time-consuming than it should be. However, despite its flaws, the overall game is definitely worth a purchase. Not at $60 though - given the flaws and its nickel and diming of players through DLC, I'd say that it's worth paying $40 for if you enjoyed the first. Since there's no demo available, if you didn't play that one, then either download Shift 1's demo or just go ahead and buy it for the $10 or so it goes for now. Then, you'll have an idea of what to expect from this game, and if its problems don't really bother you there, they won't bother you much here.
  31. Apr 4, 2011
    An aggressive, untamed racer that delights in depicting carnage as viscerally as possible. Pitched somewhere between 'arcade' and 'sim', Unleashed may lack a clear identity but it certainly doesn't lack excitement and, as a result, is an ultimately rewarding experience.
  32. Mar 30, 2011
    A rewarding experience. Sure, it doesn't have 1,000 cars made up of more polygons than the moon or a vinyl editor Michelangelo would have deemed 'adequate,' but it's still a complete package.
  33. May 11, 2011
    Overall, Shift 2 Unleashed is a fantastic driving game that should satisfy fans on either side of the arcade/simulation spectrum. The game may not be as sheer fun as Hot Pursuit was only six months ago, but could easily occupy a cherished spot on your shelf right next to it.
  34. Apr 22, 2011
    Shift 2: Unleashed is a very good racing game, but it's not quite refined enough to be a great racing game. Shift 2 is fun, but you need to know how to play it in order to appreciate it and get the most out of the experience. When played correctly, this is an intense, borderline terrifying behind-the-wheel experience, and it's worth checking out the game for that aspect alone. Shift 2 may not be ready to play with the top dogs in the genre, but it's still a wild ride from start to finish.
  35. Apr 21, 2011
    A very good racing game, no more no less.
  36. Apr 20, 2011
    Who knew that having the frame of my vehicle obscure my view of the racetrack in a corner or that trading the inside lane for the clarity of my headlights during a nighttime race would bring me an enjoyment I've never found in sim racing games before?
  37. Mar 29, 2011
    Due to its awesome cars, nice graphics, realistic handling and amazing atmosphere (night racing + in-car-view rocks!), Shift2 is a perfect pick for every Gearhead and car enthusiast out there. If you consider yourself a mere "NFS-Fan" though, you're still better off with the "other" NFS: Hot Pursuit.
  38. Mar 29, 2011
    If you found Forza or Gran Turismo to be too austere, polite, and reverent, but you still crave a bit of sim-style racing, you'll surely enjoy Shift 2 Unleashed -- as long as you're willing to deal with the consequences of its lack of manners.
  39. May 13, 2011
    While Shift 2 may not be as sim-heavy as Forza or arcade-like as Burnout, it does cut out its own groove in the genre with it's amazing helmet cam and driving aids that can be toggled to suit any racers experience or play style.
  40. Mar 29, 2011
    Shift 2 is again a solid iteration to continue building a simulation saga for Electronic Arts. Unleashed tries to accomplish as many goals as its first entry but doesn't quite manage to fully achieve them all.
  41. May 18, 2011
    At its best, Shift 2 is one of the most intense and rewarding racing games around. There's some flaws (like the entire drifting part), but the overall package is really solid and fun.
  42. 80
    The main reason that I cannot put the game down is the overwhelming sense of immersion that I get from playing it. It may not be the most anal simulation of driving available but as a simulation of the exhilaration of racing, Shift 2 Unleashed has no equal.
  43. Apr 24, 2011
    Shift 2: Unleashed is a very good racer, one that walks a very fine line between simulated precision and arcade adrenaline, and while you'll enjoy the fantastic experience the game can offer you at times, you can't help but wonder that if by trying to do so much, the developers missed out on making anything truly outstanding.
  44. Apr 18, 2011
    Shift 2 Unleashed is a solid racing game. It may not be on the same high level as a Gran Turismo or Forza, but it's sure getting close. If you enjoyed the last game or are looking for a new simulation racer to get into Shift 2 Unleashed is a good one to check out.
  45. Apr 11, 2011
    Just don't expect many things you haven't seen before.
  46. Apr 7, 2011
    Shift 2 is an enjoyable racing game and you could do worse than to lay down your hard-earned for it. However, it's difficult to shake the feeling that it's merely a prettier version of the first Gran Turismo game. In a genre in need of a breath of fresh air, Shift 2 isn't it.
  47. Apr 7, 2011
    Only the monotonous music besmirches an otherwise delightful atmosphere.
  48. 80
    Shift 2 is one of the very few driving games where we'd actually prefer to boot-up its predecessor rather than this new iteration. It's still a thoroughly decent and innovative racer but fans of the original may be justifiably disappointed by the many missed opportunities here.
  49. Mar 30, 2011
    Shift 2: Unleashed is a really good game, but it is not a Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo beater. However, it's still very fun to play.
  50. Mar 30, 2011
    Neither nerdish simulator nor abstract arcade game, Shift 2 proves that compromises don't have to be boring - as long as they have autolog.
  51. Mar 30, 2011
    Shift 2: Unleashed might not be the realistic racing game of which the developers speak, but it does offer an intense racing experience we haven't seen before on the consoles. You literally experience the race through the eyes of the driver which offers a lot of exciting moments which will keep you interested from start to finish.
  52. Mar 29, 2011
    Shift 2 Unleashed is a double-faced game. Besides good visuals, an incredible helmet view, realistic handling and a revamped career, we also find terrible A.I. in different ways so unfair, stupid and unpredictable, that it turns a race into a destruction derby.
  53. 80
    There are many places where Shift 2 seems unpolished. The career is rather boring, the announcer grating, and navigating the menus is a tedious affair. Once you hit the track, though, most of the problems get left behind in a cloud of dust as you're careening through the corners looking for the next apex. Awesome graphics and great sound. Shift 2 is not for everyone, but with enough patience there's a great racing experience hidden here, and races that can compete with the giants of the genres.
  54. 80
    Throwing accessibility out of the window like a misjudged motorway Ginsters, Shift 2 is an unashamedly stoic love-letter to hardcore driving fans. For casual fans of the genre, though, it's the kind of correspondence that leads to restraining orders.
  55. A solid, thrilling but aimless racer, given firm direction thanks to the genius of Autolog.
  56. Mar 29, 2011
    As an update to the previous SHIFT title, Unleashed is a significant draft forward. While the driving itself retains the boisterous character of its predecessor, there's been a considerable tightening of focus in the experience system, which makes every race feel meaningful whether you win or lose.
  57. Apr 6, 2011
    Mind you, with these commendable adjustments to the previous game, Slightly Mad Studios still didn't quite push this one into the big league category where we find racers as Forza Motorsport 3.
  58. May 9, 2011
    Stellar tuning options are perfect for diehard racing fans and, assuming you're playing online, the integration of Autolog makes this one of the most competitive racing games on the market. Even so, peculiar choices in presentation and very questionable actions on behalf of the A.I. make Shift 2: Unleashed an alternative to other simulators, rather than a replacement.
  59. Apr 14, 2011
    Feels like an intern, in that it knows what it wants to be - but it isn't quite sure how to do it yet. From a simple consumer point of view, this isn't THE game. But from an industry standpoint, it's an exciting warning shot to Turismo and Forza.
  60. Apr 8, 2011
    Shift 2: Unleashed doesn't offer the experience that so much of the preview footage was based on. That being said, it's still a great racing game.
  61. Apr 3, 2011
    With more than 140 vehicles, most with tongue-twisting monikers like "Lamborghini Murcielago LP640," Shift 2 should satisfy the car fetishists in the audience. Unfortunately, Career mode, as in the original, still feels less like a career and more like a shopping list of tasks.
  62. Apr 1, 2011
    A good sequel that will serve as an enjoyable entry point to serious racing; however, more experienced racing game players should stick to Shift's more realistic rivals.
  63. Apr 22, 2011
    A decent package, only let down a little by its lack of ambition.
  64. Apr 13, 2011
    The rest is sort of cookie cutter so far and unfortunately the game's poor controls hold Shift 2 back from being a truly great title.
  65. Apr 1, 2011
    Quotation forthcoming.
  66. Mar 31, 2011
    Shift 2: Unleashed offers quality racing with nice simulations to some degree, but hasn't been improved since the original as much as it should have been.
  67. Apr 26, 2011
    I have a feeling that I would love Shift 2 as I loved Gran Turismo 5 if it was a little more welcoming to series newbies. The high learning curve and stiff controls, however, are anything but welcoming, and it hurts the overall experience.
  68. X-ONE Magazine UK
    Apr 25, 2011
    A truly baffling headline gimmick causes obvious problems for the game, but even if you can get your head around that, notably odd physics routines are the true enemy here. [Issue#71, p.74]
  69. Apr 4, 2011
    Those with a less all-consuming enthusiasm for all things on four wheels will find it provides more frustration than enjoyment.
  70. Mar 31, 2011
    There's certainly nothing game-breakingly bad about Shift 2, and generally it is a polished, high quality, nice looking product. But it does fail to provide a more engaging alternative to the admittedly quite clinical driving experiences offered by the Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo series. Underneath its fancy aesthetic effects Shift 2 is also rather on the dry side, with no especially compelling reason to pick it up if you already have one of the aforementioned console racing giants in your collection.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 112 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 47 out of 112
  2. Negative: 20 out of 112
  1. Jun 30, 2011
    Damn, this game sucks so bad. 1/10
  2. Apr 4, 2011
    I nearly didn't buy this because shift 1 had the worst handling of any driving game i've ever played. This however has GREAT handling,I nearly didn't buy this because shift 1 had the worst handling of any driving game i've ever played. This however has GREAT handling, exciting races, a good difficulty curve and wonderful cars. The single player game reminds me of PGR2 (which in my eyes is the best racing game ever). you do a series of events with different cars at different tracks from around the world. Normal races, elimination, hot-lap, drifting are all here and the variety is great. If you are thinking of buying this but didn't quite like shift 1 then my advice is give it a try. I'm glad i did! Full Review »
  3. Apr 2, 2011
    SHIFT 2 : Unleashed is for ONLY those gamers who:
    1. Love the **** View and Helmet Cam View
    2. Aren't Bent on the game being a complete
    SHIFT 2 : Unleashed is for ONLY those gamers who:
    1. Love the **** View and Helmet Cam View
    2. Aren't Bent on the game being a complete simulation or complete arcade.

    This game is a mix of both and it does so very well. THE BEST Driving Experience you can get in the market now! Might not be as obsessive and realistic as Forza 3 or Gran Turismo 5, but it delivers a very authentic driving feel that is completely out of the world. Very Interesting soundtrack mix, but it just works! The songs that play once you win a race are really good but might get repetitive. FMV sequences could've been better. Car Models are excellently modeled and car sounds are mindblowing! Great Game! overall. but it's only for a certain group of gamers. NOT SUITABLE for every gamer.
    Full Review »