The SoCal launch event for EA Games' "Shift 2: Unleashed" attracted hundreds of enthusiasts and fans eager to demo the latest installment in the Need for Speed series. The event also brought with it a couple of racing celebs, around 50 of Southern California's hottest cars and even a brief moment of sunshine on an otherwise gloomy Saturday afternoon. After some behind-the-wheel time with the game, we think it's safe to say that Shift 2: Unleashed will offer all of the excitement and fun we've come to expect from a Need for Speed title--along with a few welcome twists.
The launch itself did not disappoint. Held at Source Interlink Media's El Segundo office, home of Motor Trend, Modified and Hot Rod Magazine, the building's facilities provided the perfect backdrop for the SoCal event. A handful of game consoles and two driving simulators were set up in Hot Rod's project garage and the neighboring photo studio, while dozens of show-quality rides filled the parking lot. Inside the garage, the Team Need for Speed Girls were on hand for photo ops along with several other show cars.
Also in attendance were 2010 Formula Drift series champion, Vaughn Gittin Jr. and multiple time attack record holder, Chris Rado. Since both of these celebrities have cars featured in the game, it only made sense to put the genuine articles on display.
Vaughn Gittin Jr. brought along his 1969 RTR-X Ford Mustang, while Chris Rado showed off his radical time attack-prepared 1,400-hp Scion Tc. Needless to say, seeing these awesome machines in the sheet metal was slightly more satisfying than driving them in-game. But only slightly.
Having been rendered in amazing detail, the cars are brought to life on the screen in glorious high definition. The game's crash damage feature demonstrates this level of detail even further, proving that the RTR-X Mustang is beautiful even with its bumper falling off and its headlight bashed in.
With an emphasis on realism generally not found in other Need for Speed games, Shift 2: Unleashed both looks and feels like a real racing game. Utilizing surprisingly realistic physics and crash damage, Shift 2's gameplay is a treat for the ace racing gamer while still being relatively easy to pick up for a novice.
This event has shown that EA Games is in touch with the enthusiast community and knows what many of us look for in a racing game. Shift 2: Unleashed promises to be a departure from previous games and should hold more appeal for enthusiasts. And we mean a lot more.
Shift 2: Unleashed is available today on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360