Forza Motorsport 4 Vs. NFS Shift 2 Unleashed

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Screenshot - 822316

Now that the rivalry between GT5 and Forza 3 has somewhat quieted down, fans have more to look forward to in 2011. EA is planning a second outing in their Shift series while Turn 10 is ready to once again impress with Forza 4. Even though Forza might have the edge when it comes to realism, there is no doubt that it has made its racer more accessible even for the casual racer. Shift on the other hand comes from an ancestry of arcade racers, but tried to incorporate a simulation aspect. Which racer has the edge?

Coming from a release date point of view, Shift 2 Unleashed will be on store shelves well before Forza 4, with its slated release to be March, while Forza has an undefined date, but prospected for Q3 of 2011. This gives an obvious advantage to Shift 2 since it will be in players' consoles at least three months prior. Since this isn't a console-exclusive war, with Shift 2 being multiplatform, it also has the advantage of reaching a much wider audience.

Graphics (Technical) It's obvious that developer Turn 10 has an immense amount of passion for cars and all things automotive. Forza 3 already showcased over 400 breathtakingly detailed cars and their interiors, as well as stunning environments which means Forza 4 will surely raise the bar even higher.

Shift was a pretty racer, if pretty meant seeing your car smash and break into a bunch of junk parts. Like Forza, it also featured interiors views that made the game much more intense to play through. Flashy menus aside, it wasn't as technically impressive outside of its vehicle damage. Two years of development has hopefully served its purpose and made the game even better looking, but all bets are on Forza 4 to take the graphical cake.

Graphics (Design) While the Forza series continues to impress with its stunningly detailed visuals, outside of the pretty cars and detailed interiors, it looks like a standard racing sim. The same could be said for Shift, albeit not as detailed, until the head cam view was used. The player really got a sense of speed as the cam would shake the faster you went, as well as parts of the dashboard would occasionally shift. This made racing in Shift feel extremely exhilarating, even though the viewing space was limited.

The trailer for Shift 2 shows us a glimpse of the in-helmet view that will continue to keep the driving edgy, fast and dangerous. It's this feature, that gives Shift 2 the edge in design, even if it only pertains to a single camera view.

Gameplay The Forza series has started off as a hardcore racing sim, but has over the years become more accessible. With the ability to turn on automatic braking, racing lines that tell you when to break, accelerate or just let go of the gas, anyone is able to jump right into a quick race and not feel intimidated. This accessibility continues in Forza 4 as it will feature Kinect support. Obviously forgoing any time of acceleration or braking input, it will essentially be a more hardcore Joy Ride. Does Kinect integration ruin the game? All of this ease of use aside, the hardcore car enthusiast can rest assured that all of this assistance can be turned off, and played the way it was meant to.

EA's Shift was a bold move into the sim arena, even though it never truly felt like one. Though it took place on closed tracks instead of an open world, and included interior views, the controls were still much closer to its arcade Need for Speed predecessors. The Autolog, or Facebook for Need for Speed players, that was featured in Criterion's Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit makes a return in Shift 2. This is great news for competitive players who are constantly in need of self satisfaction by beating other players records. Unless Forza will have some sort of community features other than the custom liveries, Shift 2 might have the upper hand here. Gameplay preference all comes down to how realistic or how action packed you want your racing to be.

Which Racer Do I Buy? Well if you own a PS3, your choice is obvious. For 360 owners, Forza 4 will fulfill your car collector needs while Shift 2 will appeal to the adrenaline junkie. While they are both accessible, Forza 4 is the next hardcore racing sim that fans will be drooling over until its inevitable release, not to mention the inevitable Forza 4 vs. GT5 discussions.

Charmander
Mike Splechta GameZone's Editor-in-Chief, retro game enthusiast, savior of kittens. Follow me @Michael_GZ
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