Review by Exalted_O_N_E
"The Need For Speed Version Of Forza Motorsport."
Need For Speed: Shift, The 13th game in the long running Need For Speed series, and from a series I personally enjoy, I thought I would enjoy it thoroughly, I was wrong. This game is nothing like most of the many games in the series for this game takes place not in a shady back alley or a busy highway but a realistic race track. Now I'm not saying games focused on realistic legal racing are bad, but Need For Speed: Shift tries so hard to be like Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo that it falls flat.
Need For Speed: Shift starts out with a long drawn out cinema scene that tells you all about how you will have to race in places in many different continents and countries, which might sound good to some but for me and for most gamers, we don't care where we're supposedly racing in if all the tracks look and play the same. After the cinema scene you get thrown into the seat of a car in a race and get told that the race means nothing to your future career and it's just to adjust the controls, but right after that sentence you get told that the position you place in the race determines your starting money, money which you will have to use to buy your first car, something that's probably important in a racing game.
The first race is adjusted to what the developers thought would be the average racing settings for the standard player, which is wrong, sure the settings may be among the average for the standard gamer who plays games like Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo but they are nowhere near the standard for someone who loves and plays most of the games in the Need For Speed Series. Once you start the race you have to deal with a majority of those after-mentioned control settings and you'll be extremely lucky to get at least 10th in the first race, which rewards you with enough money to buy one of the lower quality cars in the first tier of cars you can purchase, but if you somehow manage to be already adjusted to those controls you get enough money to purchase any car in the first tier and also buy a decent amount of upgrades for your new car.
After you finish the race the game will automatically adjust the controls to what it thinks you want, it doesn't just give you a menu to allow you to pick what you want before the race and result in being able to get a decent car. After you finish the first race and get yourself a car, you can start your first real race, and then go back into the options menu to put the controls how you want them, You then get to race and learn to enjoy the shoddy AI of the other racers who all have better cars then you, except the two racers almost designed to have the worst cars and always place in the last two spots to make you feel better about getting 7th.
With the shoddy overdone handling, where it seems as though your avatar can not just turn the steering wheel normally but has to jerk the car into a full 90 degree turn no matter how slightly you move the controller stick. The career races are very bland and offer almost no variety to the experience, and you will soon get the experience that you're racing the same track, albeit one with the turns in a different order or the straightaways slightly longer. Don't get me started on the drifting in this game, for one it's horribly unbalanced, with it being incredibly hard and when you finally figure out how to properly do it, it becomes way too easy. The customization of your car is not what you would expect from a Need For Speed game, for one the options for changes are horribly slim, and the painting and decals system is flawed, for example you don't even have access to primitive decals (circles, squares, rings, lines, etc) until halfway through the career mode, and when you do unlock some decals don't try and place them in an organized manner, what with the horrible camera controls (you have to hold the right analog stick down while you move the decal around, and the camera can't even get a decent view of the hood of your car), and the fact that you cannot center a decal on your hood. Overall the gameplay is severely flawed and needs major improvement.
The story, if you could call it that, is a simple "race so you can go race more and then become winner" kind of story, with no characters even the boring unimaginative ones of the previous Need For Speed games.
The only part of the game that isn't below average, the graphics are incredible in some places but absolutely horrible in others, for example the cockpit view of the inside of your car is really amazing and detailed, however it happens to be the most detailed part of the game with the other parts looking no different than the hundred other racing games for this generation. As far as the scenery goes it's quite bland with the race tracks looking the same whether you're in England or Japan it's all the same grey street with some trees or buildings in the background. The cars look nice for a standard car game of this generation, and the best part is how they shine, shining so much and at such angles it seems as though there are 20 suns shining down at different angles, oh and did I mention that the suns also shine through walls and trees and the like, with your car shining just as bright inside your garage as it does outside during high noon. Overall the graphics are not bad but nothing special.
This game's main career mode is incredibly short, lasting a whole of 6 hours at maximum, and as I said before the game is very replayable if you like the same thing over and over again, which may appeal to some but not I. Overall the game time and replayability are really low.
As far as a final recommendation goes I recommend you rent the game from a rental place or buy it cheap or used with the intention of trading it in after you exhaust the whole 8 hours this game has to offer. This game severely disappointed me and if the Need For Speed series continues in this direction it won't last long. This game was Need For Speeds try at the professional racing game market, that is dominated by games such as Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo, In my personal opinion Need For Speed should stick to the street racing genre, where they are some of the best in that genre. But if you're into the whole professional racing games then do yourself a favor and get Forza or Gran Turismo instead of this game.
Great Cockpit view.
Lots of Cars
Bad Controls and handling
Short Career Mode
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 11/16/09
Game Release: Need for Speed: Shift (US, 09/15/09)
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