Shift 2: Unleashed PC Performance Analysis

By on March 29, 2011

EA released today one of the most anticipated racing games of 2011, Shift 2: Unleashed. The game is developed by Slightly Mad Studios, the studio that also did the first part. We won’t be discussing its gameplay, but we have to say that we were pleased with it. It’s really a step in the right direction. So it’s time to see how it performs to modern PC’s. We used a Q9650 @ 4.2Ghz, 4GB DDR, a GTX295 with ForceWare 267.91 and Windows 7 64Bit.

Sadly, Nvidia hasn’t included any SLI profile for this game. We tried to enable it by forcing the SLI profile of the first Shift but the game performed terribly. At 1080p with max settings and normal AA, we had constant 30fps. Although this might be acceptable to consoles gamers, it’s not for PC racing fans. When we disabled AA, we had a 10-15fps increase, which basically means that the issue was with our GPU and not our CPU. Or to be more precise, with the SLI profile that we used. We also tried AFR2 and results were the same.

In order to enjoy the game for the time being, we had to run our GTX295 in Single GPU mode. As a result, we had 50-80fps. This basically means that the SLI profile we used previously had actually a negative impact. Our minimum framerate was when there were a lot of cars on screen (38fps). A single GTX275 will offer you great gaming experience, although there will be some slowdowns here and there. You won’t also be able to enable AA, unless you want to play with 30fps.

Shift 2: Unleashed doesn’t take full advantage of quadcores. The game scaled to all four cores and we had a nice CPU usage as we can see. However there is still room for improvements. Shift 2: Unleashed takes also advantage of Intel’s i5/i7 architecture. We were unable to reach a constant 60fps with our overclocked Q9650. Even when we lowered our resolution to 720p and our GPU usage was decreased to 78%. Furthermore, when we tried to simulate a dual-core system, we witnessed a 10fps performance hit. The CPU usage in our dual-core however was ideal (98% usage in both cores). To fully enjoy Shift 2: Unleashed, you’ll need an Intel i5/i7 CPU, that’s a fact. It’s pretty much the same situation we had experienced with Assassins Creed: Brotherhood!

Graphically, although the game looks great, it seems inferior to its predecessor. Textures are very good and the lighting system is a bit better than before. Shadows quality is good, although a bit low-res. Motion blur and DoF are overused and if the game is friendly to the mod community, we might see some mods that will reduce them and fix most of its graphical issues. The helmet camera is amazing but the aliasing is literally destroying the image quality of the game. We can’t wait for a proper SLI profile that will help us enabling AA without any performance hit. The damage model is incredible, as are the car physics. There are some glitches here and there but overall, the car physics are among the best we’ve ever seen.

And there you have it. We haven’t tested AMD’s CPUs as we didn’t have access to any of them. Shift 2: Unleashed runs and scales great but doesn’t take full advantage of quadcores. In order to run it with constant 60fps, you’ll need an Intel i5/i7. As with its predecessor though, 40fps feel smooth due to the clever use of motion blur. It also needs a proper SLI profile, so be sure to run it in Single GPU mode to avoid any negative impact. Enjoy these four high resolution screenshots!






About David Scarpitta

I am a critical guy, and love to review and give my professional opinion on just about anything. Though have a love for tech/gaming and music alongside the cinema. You can catch me consulting and developing the net any day of the week.