Need for Speed: Shift


Review by Scooby Mad

The Need for Speed games have been pretty piss poor as of late. They’ve always sold well, but have become a yearly EA cash in where the quality of the product has declined since the first Underground (with the exception of Most Wanted). They were about street racing, neon’s, noise and spoilers that would make my ex’s new boyfriend blush. I personally think they sold well because the moronic boy racers that infest our roads effectively bought the same game year after year. EA has decided to try and change all this though and bring us a real racing game where the driving is the star of the show… but has it worked?

Need for Speed Shift is going directly for realism, it has Forza in its sights and is gunning for its sump. Gone is the arcade handling of old, in is a new more realistic approach. Follow the racing line, fight the under steer and making it to the line without going off is a challenge. This is all well and good but the handling model in Need for Speed Shift is not exactly controller friendly. Let me try and explain. In Forza 2 you get a sense through your controller of what the car is doing, you know when the back end is about to slide and how much of a boot full to give the car on the exit of a corner. In Shift its more try it and see, you do get used to it and the driver aids are plentiful if you just want to press race and have a good time but its not got the precision feel that you need in a game of this type.

The best thing about this game is the presentation, the driver view is where its at. Your head bobs with every press of the brake, shakes wildly when you go off the track and your vision blurs when you meet that very hard wall. The car interiors are modeled superbly with reflections off the dashboard to compliment. The sound is out of this world, best way to play this game is with the volume on MAX! The engine sounds you get in this game are so real, a press on the brakes makes them squeal in agony as they slow you just in time for that hard right hander. Basically a Carrera GT makes a better noise when you fully open the taps than any women could!

There is no story in Shift, which is good as you don’t need such a thing in a real racer. You drive to improve your driver level. Each level unlocks extra stuff. Each race has a set number of “Stars” to collect, when you get enough stars you can progress to the next tier (faster cars). My only complaint here is the game seems to throw stars, badges and upgrades at you. You wont have completed all the races in tier two, yet will be well on your way to unlocking five! Also the game throws cash at you to the point where as soon as a new tier unlocks you can just buy the best car and upgrade it fully. Kinda missing the point of putting a lot of time into this game to gradually improve your car.

I cant help feeling that EA would have been better going after the middle mans racers of choice here (PGR4 and GRiD) than the purists (Forza 3 and Gran Turismo). Or even sticking with the Arcade route and trying a fresh approach (Burnout Paradise anyone). As it is this game is a pretty soul less experience. Sure its worth a look if you’re a petrol head for the sense of speed and the orgasmic pleasures that can be had from those engine sounds. But if you really want a realistic racer, Forza 3 is out in just over a month. Save your money and I will see you on the starting line!


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