If you're not paying close attention, you might not realize it but racing games are enjoying a quiet renaissance. It's not just that there are a lot of them kicking around, but the ones that are coming to shelves are in many cases just excellent games. And, while Forza and Gran Turismo seem unfailingly perched at the top of the mountain, Electronic Arts has quietly been deconstructing and rebuilding the Need For Speed franchise into a contender.
This week EA rolls Shift 2 out of the garage as a true peer to Microsoft's and Sony's well loved auto-porn. Shift 2 certainly does a good job checking off the critical boxes to prove its heritage as a serious racer, beginning with a respectable car list that includes some of my personal favorites such as the Bugatti Veyron SS (the fastest production sports car in the world), Aston Martin's classic DB9 and DBS, the Pagani Zonda and the Lamborghini Murceliago LP640. Similarly the track list includes well known locales including the, dare I say, overused Nürburgring, the Suzuka and the classic downhill "Corkscrew" at Leguna Seca.
Of course, none of that means anything if EA has done nothing more than craft a stylish arcade racer. As a fan of racing games, particularly those that for a moment can suspend the disbelief of racing along at 170 miles per hour in a futuristic hyper-car, I'm hopeful that there is a new, well-established kid on the block. If nothing else it'll give me something to do while I wait for Forza 4.
Also quietly releasing this week, Tiger Woods 12, where hopefully there is a bonus achievement if you can make Woods win a tournament, much less a major, this year.
- Darkest Hour: A Hearts of Iron Game
- Patrician IV: Rise of a Dynasty
- Shift 2 Unleashed