Shift 2 Unleashed loses 'Need for Speed' and adds Hot Pursuit's Autolog

What better day to announce a new entry in a long-standing franchise than the release date for what is, arguably, the best installment in the series to date. Today, on Need for Speed Hot Pursuit's big day, EA has stolen some of that thunder by announcing Shift 2 Unleashed, the sequel to last year's simulation-style installment.

In doing so, EA has dropped the "Need for Speed" half of the title (though the debut trailer, found after the break, still puts the game squarely in the NFS series, even using Hot Pursuit's n-shaped logo). In its place is Autolog, the excellent, always-connected enhancement that Burnout-dev Criterion brought to Hot Pursuit. EA calls it the "next generation" of the stats-driven friendship killer -- though, with less than half a year between both iterations, let's say we're skeptical of that claim.

The game is being built by racing veterans, and Shift developers, Slightly Mad Studios for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. This morning's press release says to expect the game in "spring 2011," which is pretty close to the previously reported Q1 2011 window. So, are you more of a Hot Pursuit or a Shift 2 kind of gamer?

This article was originally published on Joystiq.