Shift 2 Unleashed Interview

Published on December 2nd, 2010

GamerZines: Why did you decide to drop the Need For Speed name for Shift 2?

Marcus Nilsson, Executive Producer, Shift 2: Unleashed: If you think about the Need For Speed games you’ve played; Hot Pursuit, Most Wanted, Underground, they’re very arcadey and action-oriented. Shift is going after a different audience, a sim audience, and it’s about driving cars the way they feel in real life. So to not confuse the consumer – don’t take me wrong, Shift 2: Unleashed is still a Need For Speed game inside the Need For Speed family, but that family has different legs. Hot Pursuit fits the action games; Shift 2 is sim-like.

GZ: What were the core elements that you wanted to improve upon for a sequel to Shift?

MN: There were so many! Getting a game out there by millions of people is undoubtedly going to get you feedback on what you did right and what you did wrong. AI was a big one; it was too aggressive. Handling on really fast cars was another one, and we’ve worked very hard on the physics model for Shift 2. We’ve basically just improved across the board.

GZ: How has the handling model changed for Shift 2? From what we’ve played so far, Shift still has a certain arcade feel to it – it didn’t feel as raw as something like Forza or Gran Turismo.

MN: It’s interesting that you say that. What you’ve played here today is a setup with a lot of assists turned on and that’s exactly the feeling I want people to feel. I want it to feel like a sim, but a little more accessible. With everything turned off, Shift 2 is going to be a sim experience probably unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. What we’ve done is, the physics engine hasn’t changed all that much, it’s just been tweaked. Software takes time. For Shift 1 we had so much time, for Shift 2 we have this much time; we can make it better.

GZ: Has the career progression system changed since Shift 1?

MN: It has changed, but I’m not going to say how it’s changed at this point in time.

GZ: Autolog’s been implemented too. Has that seen any changes since Hot Pursuit?

MN: Yeah. You racing in the game becomes the fuel for other people to race, it’s brilliant. If you look at Hot Pursuit, from what I hear and what I read people are really liking it. Slightly Mad Studios has been working with Criterion from really early on exchanging ideas and executing on the core tenants that Criterion came up with. We’re implementing it slightly differently but integrating more into the core experience of what the game is. I don’t want the game to feel like I have a career and then I can go online to compete with my friends, I want it to feel like one whole. Autolog really weaves everything together into one compelling package. If you race this game and you beat people on your friends list, that’s going to give you more XP to propel you in your career.

GZ: How does Shift 2 differ from something like Gran Turismo 5?

MN: I think that we are the new blood in the new genre. We’re innovating the genre at its core, what it’s like behind the wheel and what it’s like to actually drive the car. We’re not trying to innovate by numbers; I’m not in the slightest bit interested by the thousand cars that they put into the game. It’s really about finding what excites people. We’re moving into this genre from Battlefield, and I really wanted to push the genre forward because it just hasn’t been moving. DICE made racing games in the past and everything else but Shift is basically still where it was. Something like Helmet Cam is probably the biggest innovation in car handling for a decade.

GZ: Need For Speed typically releases during November, but we’ve heard that the November 2011 game is being developed by Black Box. Are you going to be out before that?

MN: Yes, we’re out in spring 2011.

Check out our first hands-on coverage of Shift 2: Unleashed in issue 46 of P3Zine.

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