Repost: Need For Speed: Shift Review

Need For Speed: Shift left the arcade-style gameplay and ventured into new territory focusing on the simulation gameplay made famous by Gran Turismo. Did it succeed in defeating the reigning king of simulations with its first entry?

Not entirely, but it came close.

Need For Speed: Shift has a lot going for it. The simulation gameplay is solid and still retains the addictive nature of the series. Fans may be turned off by the new focus, but those who put the time into this title will emerge finding a new appreciation of the work by the team at Slightly Mad Studios.

From the outset, Need For Speed: Shift focuses on two things. Precision or Aggressive driving. The first race that is run is simply a test to see how a person drives. From the results of the first race, the game assigns difficulty, the amount of damage effect, and many other small statistics. Right after that race, the game opens into the Tiers where the rest of the game is spent.

The Tiers are a smart way to introduce the different types of racing. From straight forward races, one-on-one car battles, time attacks, elimination tracks, and invite events, Need For Speed: Shift constantly changes the work that has to be completed to gain Stars, which open the next Tier, and unlock new types of upgrades and extras. Drifting, for those wondering, is more difficult to accomplish than Gran Turismo and performing a perfect drift around a corner feels incredible.

The cars of Need For Speed: Shift also are assigned to the specific Tiers and races carry different requirements and prizes in the form of money for said upgrades or purchasing a new car. The game utilizes a level system, which works in relation to how races are driven. Driving with precision or barreling through the tracks aggressively gain points that are tallied at the end of races. Gaining levels results in money from sponsorships, invitational events, and opening more garage space for more cars.

A nice thing about the invitational events is that they usually are in a Tier higher than you are currently at, so experiencing the next level of racing is a good sample of what to expect and what the opponents are capable of doing.

Need For Speed: Shift looks like a next-generation title. The car damage, which can be superficial or effect how the car runs, looks good, though there are some issues when I ran into a wall at some 200 miles per hour and the front end looked like I just tapped another car. The physics of the game are amazing. Running my tuned Honda Civic through some races in Tier 2 resulted in drifting around corners and losing grip on the track because my torque was higher than many of the other cars.

This is another small annoyance with the game, Tier 1 and 2 races are no problem to place first in. If a moderate car is purchased and upgraded, there is already a good advantage against other cars in those Tiers. Once Tier 3 hits, the difficulty becomes less about enjoyment, but white knuckled staring contests with the television, making sure every single corner is perfect and using drafting against opponents. The swift change in gameplay is a little jarring, but once I got used to the new difficulty, the game began to shine again.

In the higher Tiers, series races open up along with endurance races which do test the patience and hand-eye coordination of driving. Those races take some practice and the first lap was usually just a test to get used to the track and the places where others could be passed.

In the world of simulation racing titles, Need For Speed: Shift doesn’t contain the minute tuning that other games contain, but there are a fair amount of specific points where a car can be fine tuned. Though for most, simply upgrading the car will prove the most useful and beneficial.

As a new focus for the Need For Speed series, Need For Speed: Shift is a great change. Small annoyances aside, with a lot of content for car enthusiasts to complete and enough for the casual racing fan to complete until satisfied, this racing title is a must have for the console library. The single player is deep and long and the online multiplayer should extend the life of the game for some time to come.

Review Copy Provided By Publisher