There’s what looks like a canyon in the apex as the camera slowly pans across the ground, then up the door of a car to the window where, inside, there’s a driver who’s clearly looking a little worried about something. It’s probably the big crash that’s taken place right in front of him; sparks of light and bits of car debris litter the air, brake discs glow red hot from behind the alloy wheels and the camera pans around the car. Finally the camera pulls out to reveal your car and the others around it coming up the first hill in the dark at Spa, all of you just frozen in a single moment in time, and that’s just the intro to the menu screen. Seriously.
So here you are, welcome to the hub of SHIFT 2: Unleashed. You’ll find all the standard options floating around your Nissan GTR: career, options, garage, online etc as you swish around your car. From the menu alone you can’t help but feel that this game is going to contain that something special that’s been missing from racing sims for the last few years. Don’t be put off by the words “racing” and “sim” next to each other in the same sentence though; while it is what can be considered a core game in a very core genre, it’s still very accessible to gamers of any age or skill level. At the start of your career SHIFT 2 will ask you to complete a hot lap of a circuit on your own and will then assess your driving skill based on how you performed before suggesting settings on things such as brake assist, traction control, vehicle damage and racing line. I’d recommend hitting retry after finishing this the first time around just because it’s bound to set you on numpty mode (or ‘novice’, as the game prefers to call it) as getting used to how the game handles takes an attempt or three. Once you’re happy with that you’ll move on to the next race where the game will do exactly as before, but this time it will assess you against how well you perform with other cars on the track and set your future rivals’ difficulty level. You can change any of these options at a later time, so don’t sulk if the game still says your a novice.