EA’s Need For Speed: Shift has been around the block to bring us their latest driver game. Slightly Mad Studios has polished their development skills when making Need For Speed: Shift and it shows very well. The enhanced detail of NFS: Shift is amazing. By far the best feature are the much needed road arrows. Now, you can clearly see when a sharp turn is too sharp for your vehicle thanks to “green”, “yellow” and “red” arrows clearly marked for you on the road. You’re first race sits you in the most realistic cockpit view I’ve ever seen of a sleek white BMW. By the way, have I given you the impression these graphics are amongst the best in the racing franchise? Good.
Vehicle selection. After your first race you’ll be able to purchase your very a vehicle and store it in your garage. Not much to choose from for now, but if you’re able to win your first race you’ll net 40k. That picked me up a Red BMW 135i Coupe. You can choose up to 65 vehicles from the following makes: Ford, BMW, Audi, Chevy, Honda, Infiniti, Mazda, Nissan, Renault, Scion, Seat, Toyota and Volkswagon. These are your Tier 1 vehicles to choose from but once you reach Tier 4 you’ll see: Lamborghini Reventon, Bugatti, Mercedes Benz and Porsche. Don’t spend all your winnings cause you’re gonna have to upgrade that baby too.
Racing Competitions. You have a clear objective in any race you decide to compete in — cross the finish line in 1st place — but not in NFS: Shift. Yes, you’ll want to win your races, but it’s how you “perform” in these races that count. You can be an aggressive driver and bump cars from behind or drift into a corner all while gaining points. These points allow you to upgrade your driver profile. As you progress you’ll unlock venues only offered to higher Tier drivers which bring in serious cash. With your winnings you’ll want to enter “Upgrades” to fully deck out your ride. Yes, you can paint your vehicle and change your rims, but the performance of your ride wins races. Upgrade your tires, install a spoiler, or reduce your vehicles weight all play an important role to making your car a faster one. Don’t forget the Nitrous Kit!
Aggressive or Defensive driver, it’s your choice. The Need For Speed franchise uses a new innovative approach towards each driving style. Similar to Forza, where you rewarded to drive carefully and avoid the bumps and bruises of the road, Shift follows those ingredients but adds their own spice by encouraging you to drive aggressive. Points displayed for which type of style are represented in two colors. For a “Clean Overtake” (pass opponents without making contact) the points awarded will show blue as opposed to a “Dirty Overtake” (make contact to pass opponent) the points will show red. Choose your style wisely because your Driver profile icon will be prominently displayed showing the world (ie. the EA Network) what type of driver you are. I know from experience that my Aggressive icon initiated several battling ram matches which I can say I provoked… and succeeded… once.
No Carpool here. The friends leader board has a neat and noticeable feature. Once your friends compete on their single player campaign, the race times will show over the invitational. For once, the friends leader board isn’t tucked away behind some “other” option screen. You can finally compete with friends’ time scores, and when you’ve beaten their score the once “red marker” above the event will now display a “green marker” with your PSN username to boast!
Hear No Evil, See No Driver. I love attention to detail. So when I think it’s needs mentioning, I’ll do just that. The collisions in Shift are brilliant. While I’d never want to know what it feels like to collide into into a corner at over 100mph, this game makes me feel like I was there. At first the screen gets blurry where you can hardly tell what’s in front of you when at the same time altering the visuals to show grey images. Cracking the windshield has been done but Shift’s obstruction of a spider web crack makes you wish you drove more careful. The circuit tracks are challenging yet rewarding and only show off NFS:Shifts impressive graphics. And finally unless your playing with a surround sound system, you’re truly missing out on the tire squeals, heartbeat pounding and the eerie sounds of crashing into walls. Disturbing but I felt I needed a helmet sitting in my living room.
Difficultly behind the wheel. I’ve played other racing games, so I’m familiar with a virtual steering wheel. But Shift is tough. Leaving my settings on Normal handling mode and Easy AI still left me in the dust when I graduated from Tier 1 and raced in Tier 2. I’m not complaining how tough it is — well maybe a little — but a beginner driver or even casual fan may find that this game is difficult. In a way, the realistic value for Shift interrupts the “fun value”.
Road guided arrows
Trial race sets customizes difficulty
“Select” button resets car on track
Online glitches required power off of console
Load times, PS3 required HDD install
Unreasonable “Warning Cut Track” decisions
Final Thought: There’s a new driver game in the market, and it’s NFS: Shift. The hardcore fans may whimper with some of the lacking details in the game but the casual gamer will enjoy what it has to offer. True, the game is difficult but what’s a good racing game without a challenge. In 10 hours you can beat career mode, but like other games that offer online gaming, you’ll want to take your vehicle online. Careful though, the competition is fierce so don’t pretend to audition for the chauffeur role in Driving Miss Daisy.