Need For Speed: Shift Review

Posted on November 26, 2009

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Need For Speed was a well known series when it came to illegal street racing, police chases, crazy crashes, and other arcade racer type features. But now all that has changed in the new Need For Speed: Shift game; where it takes a more realistic (and legal) approach to racing, with just a little arcade flair added in.

The game starts you out very suddenly– it drops you into an insanely powerful BMW and gets you to run a test lap to configure your optimal difficulty settings. You can retry the lap, of course, and also manually change the difficulty at any point in the game.

The first thing that I noticed when I started playing the game was that the controls were a lot more precise than Forza 3 or Gran Turismo 5. I found that if I jerked the stick off to the side around corners, the car would go off the track, you had to make smoother moves on the wheel to be able to keep your car under control. Being a long time Forza 2 player, this took a little getting used to. However, when I started getting the hang of it, it was great.

The game features plenty of great tracks to race on; from tight ovals to wide open road courses. It has a nice blend of real world tracks like the Laguna Seca, Road America, and the Nurburgring– as well as some purely fictitious tracks. But what good are the tracks if you don’t have any cars to race them on? Thankfully, NFS: Shift supplies you with an insane number of cars to buy an use; from old favorites like the Nissan 350z or the Mitsubishi Evolution IX– to new and rare cars, like the 2010 Camaro SS (My personal favorite), Bugatti Veyron, Pagani Zonda, and Lamborghini Reventon.

 

Someday I'll have one of these.... in real life....

But enough about the cars, let’s talk about the career mode.

Career mode is probably where you’ll be spending most of your time in the game, and for good reason. The career is great! It starts out like any other car game would– you get a few grand, buy a crappy car, and race it until you can get more cars. Simple! However, that’s where the similarities end. NFS:Shift has a somewhat different approach to it’s career mode. Most racing games focus on winning money as your main objective. But in this game, money is only a small part of the game. The main idea is to get stars and points by doing cool things on the track. Points and stars work pretty much seamlessly together, while your racing you earn points by doing different things on the track. Your actions are put into two categories: Precision and Aggression. You gain precision points for doing things like mastering corners, following the racing line, making clean passes, etc. On the other hand, you can gain aggression points by drafting, drifting, hitting cars, and stuff like that. No matter how you do it, though, the points all go together in the end.

You earn stars by doing different things, too. You get stars for getting a podium finish, getting a certain amount of points, or completing a specific task like beating a lap time  or spinning out a certain amount of opponents. Stars pretty much are your key to moving through the game. The game is divided into 4 tiers– each having a bunch of races in them. To unlock new tiers and races, you need a certain amount of stars to pass through. This really isn’t that hard to do, considering the vast amount of races that are given to you. Ive unlocked tier 3 already but I’m only halfway through tier 2.

One of the great things about this game is that you aren’t always restricted to the cars that you own in the game. For lots of the races (Like time trials and drift competitions) the game gives you a set car to use. Another cool way to try out cars is the car battles– this lets you choose between two rival cars (eg. Camaro SS vs Challenger Concept) and then race them in a best of three match. The first match starts with you in the lead, and you have to try and maintain your lead to the finish line or get ahead of your rival by 5 seconds. The second race starts with you in the back, and you have to pass the car in front of you (not as easy as it sounds). If those two races go into a tie, you go into overtime. One final race, where the cars are side-by-side.

Now, the game may have a great selection of tracks and cars, and a great career mode but…. how do the cars feel when you’re in them?

Fast.

The sense of speed in this game is unreal! Even in my first car, hitting 100mph was an adrenaline rush. In supercars like the Bugatti Veyron, I was hitting 200mph on a straight and I couldn’t even stay on the road! In this game, you always have to stay on your toes– flying around corners at breakneck speeds is crazy, and one tire going off the road can result in disaster. Many a time have I been in first place only to be ripped off the road on the last lap.

The graphics in the game are amazing as well– the cockpit views are extremely detailed and the cars and tracks are, too.

Overall, I think this game is a really good simulation title, with just a hint of arcade-style gameplay thrown in for fun. Tons of levels, cars, and the online play make for great replay value. Overall, I think this game should feel welcome in any racing game fan`s collection.

 

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Posted in: Gaming, Reviews