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Adam Ghiggino
01 Oct, 2009

Need For Speed SHIFT Review

360 Review | A shift from the norm?
The Need for Speed series has worn a number of faces, especially in the last decade or so. Initially a simple arcade racer, we've seen Need for Speed games that place you in the shoes of the police and in the significantly-more-expensive-shoes of the undergwith round street racers. Now, with Need for Speed Shift, the series is tackling previously unknown territory, that of realistic simulation racers. Until now, Need for Speed isn't a name you'd associate with genre-leaders such as Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport, but does Shift have what it takes to change all that?

Did we say simulation racers? That's not entirely accurate. Sure, at first the selection of closed-circuit tracks and professional racing cars give the impression that this is as straight-laced as a strict-simulation game, but there's a little more to it than that. The game sits between this appearance and the arcade racers of the series' past, meaning that while the realistic driving mechanics and look of the game may indicate a Gran Turismo clone, it sure doesn't feel like one. Instead of harmlessly bouncing off walls or gaining penalties for crashing into opponents, its possible to rear-end someone, flip their car over and be rewarded for it, something you wouldn't normally expect to see.

Unfortunately carbonetic is carcinogenic.

Unfortunately carbonetic is carcinogenic.
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The driving mechanics of the game are very solid. Many racing fans may be furious that they may not be entirely accurate, although the cars do feel like they have the appropriate weight. However, everything is adjustable to suit your needs, and overall we walked away very happy with the feel of the cars. This is important, because it provides a great foundation for the main premise of the game, which gives players the freedom to choose the style of driving most suited to them. It's mentioned very early in the game that there are two main areas in which the player will be rewarded - 'Aggression' and 'Precision'. If you're an aggressive driver, you'll be rewarded for tapping other cars out of the race, sending them spinning out of control, and drifting around corners at breakneck speed. Precision drivers will find themselves gaining points for perfect corners and following the perfect racing line. The best part is that the player doesn't have to assign himself completely to either of these sides, as you gain points in both 'Aggression' and 'Precision' as you race, which you can keep track of thanks to a handy meter at the top of the screen.

In the game's career mode, you can earn points in either of these categories as well as badges. You can also level up your driver profile to earn entry into higher tiers of races, by collecting points and stars, which are awarded based on how well you drove and how highly youre placed. As you start the game, you'll only have access to three events, each with about five races, but as you progress you'll find yourself racing in many, many more events, with your eye on the grand Need for Speed tournament. In addition to simple races, you'll occasionally be invited to special events, where you'll participate in elimination races, time trials, special sponsorship races and other variations on the formula which spice up the pace of the game. Perhaps its not quite as meaty as more 'proper' simulation games, but we doubt anyone will be left unhappy.

Canyon see the detail?.

Canyon see the detail?.
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Thankfully, this is the first Need for Speed game in a while that doesn't have a story. You'll simply hear your objectives being stated to you over the crackly intercom of some manager or co-driver or formless racing-buddy, who teaches you the ropes of the gameplay and the progression system. It's a remarkable step up, although his low-quality static-y voice can begin to grate after a while. There is a simple menu system that helps you sort out which events have been unlocked and which cars are in your garage. Stylistically, the game takes a few cues from GRID but this is not a bad thing at all.

As we mentioned before, the game has a steady stream of rewards for the player, not just in the form of trophies and achievements, but also in content you can use in the game. You'll constantly be unlocking new decals, or paint finishes, or just plain simple money you can use to buy one of the seventy-two cars on offer, most of which are very appropriately chosen and display a good variety. The never ending stream of rewards both enhances and shifts the game a little bit away from simply being a 'collection' game as the Gran Turismo series has become known, as a casual player could boot up the game, play as aggressively as they want, and unlock some cool paint jobs for their cars. Tuning and customisation is also present in the game, although due to the title's more-arcadey focus it is optional, but very functional for those who want to dig into that sort of thing. A strange addition is the ability to purchase cars using Microsoft Points on the Xbox 360 version of the game, instead of in-game currency, although we don't see this feature being used by anyone when they could simply enjoy the game and unlock cars that way. Finally, the online multiplayer present in the game isn't anything exceptionally different, although there is a lot of fun to be had with the Driver Duels and standard Quick Race mode on offer.

Hey Forza, I'm real happy for ya and I'mma let you finish, but my music in Shift is the greatest racing game music of all time!

Hey Forza, I'm real happy for ya and I'mma let you finish, but my music in Shift is the greatest racing game music of all time!
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One area in which Need for Speed Shift does shine is in its presentation. While the cars may not be the highest quality models we've ever seen, with some low resolution textures and bodies, they nonetheless look quite dazzling under the superb lighting and realistic locations in the game. You'll race from standard motorways to cities like London, and while these locations may not always be accurate, they'll get the atmosphere down pat pretty well. The cockpit view of these cars is also outstanding, and this is one of the few games we've played where we haven't wanted to switch views (which, rest assured, you can), as the cockpits for every car are marvelously detailed as are the driver's animations. The cockpit view moves as the car turns corners and hits bumps, and blurs as you hit high speeds. When you crash, your vision blurs and fades as your driver presumably regains consciousness, which is a great effect and an appropriate punishment for careless driving. The sound effects all have a lot of punch, and the music (when you turn it up, as its off by default) is great as well, with tracks from artists like Kanye West.

Overall, while Need for Speed Shift appears to be aiming at providing a simulation-racing experience, it obviously hasn't forgotten about the series' core fan-base, making a game that can be enjoyed by just about any kind of racing game fan. The 'Aggression'/'Precision' system sees you constantly rewarded by playing the way you want to play, and the game's presentation, especially the cockpit view, will leave many eyeballs satisfied (if not totally violated, like others in the simulation genre). If you've been waiting for the new Forza or Gran Turismo sequels to hit, you might want to spare some time for Shift, as it proves to be a more than worthy contender that is absolutely worth a look for some thrills on wheels. Dare we say, this is the one time when it's good to be... shift-y? You're right, that's lame.
The Score
Shift sits somewhere between arcade and simulation racers, providing an extremely fun experience.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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10 Comments
4 years ago
best need4speed game I have ever played apart from the lack of cars, bring on forza 3 wahoo icon_biggrin.gif
4 years ago
I love this game, the perfect balance of arcade and sim for me. Anyone who is outburnouted (word?) and handing for some awesome straight up car racing with no fuss and speed, check this out.

Killer review.
4 years ago
Very accurate review of the game, only recently started playing shift and it is quite fun and a major turn around from the disappointment that was Undercover. It's also good that you don't have to pay to visually upgrade your vehicle with paint jobs, vinyls and rims so you can play around with different styles for your vehicles.

As for the ability to buy cars with your MS points this feature started in Undercover which also allowed you to buy upgrades in packages as well. Obviously enough people used this feature in Undercover that they used it again and I am sure some people who don't want to play the game all the way through will use this feature.
4 years ago
Had plenty of trouble with this game to work on the PC with my G25 but now that it's setup it's great. With the dust slowly being removed from the wheel it's good to see a game that takes advantage of it again (although huge amounts of tweaking is required). The game itself is no GT but in it's absence I'm enjoying this for all the reasons stated in the review. It's just that balance of Sim and arcade that lets me pull it out with a few mates round to enjoy.
4 years ago
The one thing I forgot to mention is that the drift events suck in the game, it's way too hard to get drifts going especially linking drifts. That is the only drawback of the game.
4 years ago
Nice review. Just be warned if you purchase the PC version, it seems to be riddled with bugs, such as the game constantly crashing at the start of a race. That said, it seems the console versions aren't that much better, for example, crashing at the Playstation Store screen on a 360...

http://kotaku.com/5368824/nfs-shift-crashes-at-playstation-store-screen---on-a-360


Regarding the actual game itself, well, it didn't do anything for more. It's half arcade racer, half simulation, and unfortunately, I became quickly bored with it. The career mode is linear and became somewhat tiresome after a while, and while the graphics are great, the sound is good and the sense of speed spot on, it just feels like it is missing something. My two cents, maybe this should be a try before you buy.
4 years ago
I don't get the love for this game. It seems to have won good reviews and comments based on the cockpit views but when you finally get it and play it, geez it is generic and boring.

Heaps of bugs and a small car and track list show it really was a rush job to cash in on the time before Forza and GT released on 360 and PS3.

Especially considering EA were ready to scrap the NFS series altogether after the previous flop, yet a few days later announce this game and release it so quick.
4 years ago
Phreakuency wrote
Especially considering EA were ready to scrap the NFS series altogether after the previous flop, yet a few days later announce this game and release it so quick.
While Undercover was a flop, I'm sure the game sold enough copies to justify continuing the series in EAs eyes i.e bank balance icon_wink.gif
4 years ago
From what I've heard this is actually one of the buggiest games this generation, across all platforms.
4 years ago
Playing on the 360 I have not encountered any bugs yet, apart from the fact that the leaderboards appear to be broken which is a disappointment but not a deal breaker.

I agree with The Answer that the drift events are a bit sucky, they really feel out of place compared to the rest of the game, the complete change in the racing physics is ridiculous but once you find a car that works for you, you will be able to win events. I generally skip them for the most part and when I do feel like giving it a try I do a whole lot at once so that I don't have to keep switching between the two styles of driving which can be very jarring.

The main part of the game however I am loving as the racing gives you a great sense of speed and being on the edge of control (or maybe that is just my bad driving icon_smile.gif ). Racing online also seems to very smooth and trouble free.

A really good review.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  24/09/2009 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Electronic Arts
Genre:
  Racing
Year Made:
  2009

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