Why SHIFT 2: Unleashed owes as much to Resident Evil as Gran Turismo

Slightly Mad’s Andy Tudor talks us through enhancements, timeframes, keeping on top of the pecking order and why you haven’t truly played SHIFT 2 till you’ve turned off the lights.

By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, December 1, 2010

For Shift 2, we wanted to continue on with that. So, if the cockpit view in Shift was analogous to a first-person shooter – disorientation effects, kind of like getting shot at or hit with a grenade – then helmet view in Shift 2 is kind of like a flight sim, so your head is banking into the corner, rotating in, and the depth of field is changing when you approach a corner, so your eye focusses on the apex – it’s something your eyes will naturally do when you’re in a racing car, but again conveying that different experience to somebody with a gamepad is very difficult.

You mentioned Gran Turismo in your overview. Would it be fair to say that the sort of intense perceptual simulation you’re exploring here, really pitching the player into the experience behind the wheel, is a design philosophy Western developers “get” but Japanese developers don’t?

There’s no way I’m answering that! I’m not going to slag Japanese developers off!

Afraid of the dark?

Oh go on. Surely you’ll concede that the big Western shooter houses, for instance, are very good at driving home the sensory side of war with shaky cam, desaturation and lens splatter. Whereas there perhaps isn’t quite the same tradition of disorienting audio-visual overkill in Japan…

I don’t know, because you could equally say that Resident Evil 4 captures the true horror of things jumping out at you from the dark, so I don’t think it’s an East-West divide at all. Just looking at what are the core things of Resident Evil – the core thing is being scared and walking in a straight line and using a flashlight to look around, go into the dark. But then when you look at our night racing – that’s the approach we took for night racing.

Other games have done night racing – Gran Turismo does night racing – but it’s not really night racing, it’s just the same environment but darker. But in our night races we don’t put great big floodlights on the corners, we don’t put great big flashing chevrons telling you which way to go. The headlights are like [Resident Evil's] flashlight, and you’re going into the corner completely blind, you’re going into the darkness. Because that is added gameplay value. You think you know a course? You don’t – until you turn off the lights.

So yeah, we kind of borrow from them as well.

Andy, thanks for your time.

Need for Speed SHIFT 2: Unleashed is out on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC in Spring 2011. You might remember Andy Tudor from our high-powered feature on 3D gaming – read here.

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