The game has a Career mode that makes use of the numerous points youll score playing through the game. Here, youll play through races of steadily increasing difficulty, requiring you to make use of the experience you gain to unlock progressively faster death machines that will let you garner even more experience. There are a lot of things to unlock, and theyre usually close enough and good enough to keep you drooling for the next one.
Gaining experience, surprisingly in a racing game, takes priority over such things as winning races, sometimes. The game awards experience on a regular basis as you race, if you do things right. Advancing past an opponent, blocking the advance of another car, staying in the lead for a whole lap, all give a player more and more experience. Theres also a green line which shows the ideal line for the course that youre rewarded for following. Of course, when you do win races or get the best time on a time-trial race, youll receive a huge experience bump, too. All this experience leads to more cars and tracks, as well as further upgrades that can be unlocked.
One issue about this game is the way the cars handle. Its not quite realistic, especially compared to more simulation-styled racing games. The handling with a keyboard is abysmal, and really needs either a wheel or a gamepad to play successfully. The handling isnt always consistent either, with slight adjustments sometimes making the adjustment you needed, and sometimes not doing anything. That dead space in the middle isnt always the same, and takes a lot away from the experience. Handling is probably the most important thing in any racing game, and this games car handling could be done better.
This probably has something to do with the viewpoint. Initially, and by default, youre looking through the eyes of your character. While this is an interesting perspective, it actually makes the game more difficult to play. From this first-person viewpoint, its easy to crash and not recognize which way youre supposed to be going. Fortunately, there are a couple of different viewpoints that you can race with, and itll probably improve your game to switch to the third-person view.
The saving grace in the title is the enormous number of races that must be overcome, and the playability of the RPG aspects in doing so. These races, while not strictly correct to simulation standards, are still a blast to play due to the experience points that you rack up as you race through them. While Shift 2: Unleashed might not satisfy the simulation gamer in you, it has plenty of sheer fun gameplay to make it worth your time.