Review by DUBTuner
A good restart, but needs lots of improvements
Racing sim? Arcade racer? It's up to you to decide. Or not. Need for Speed Shift doesn't play as good as it looks, and doesn't matter if you're looking for arcade or sim mechanics, you might get disappointed. While the first couple races are pretty impressive, soon you'll realize they are quite repetitive. And then there's the drifting.
Graphics: The cars looks amazing, both their interior and exterior. Slightly Mad Studios did an outstanding job with the first person view. From what I've seen, it's the best one so far. Go too fast and everything gets blurred, and you can see the driver's hands shaking and trying to keep the car in line. If you brake all of a sudden, you will feel the impact. You can customize the interior of your car with packages that turns the very basic vehicle into a truly racing machine. The steering wheel changes, you can see roll bars around you and the driver seat is the only one left. The sense of speed is also great. The damage modelling is not so good, but it's still there. If you played Need for Speed ProStreet, you will notice a huge downgrade regarding car damage. The tracks are greatly designed and they are very alike their real counterparts. Spa Francorchamps is fantastic, but Nurburgring could have been done better. There's a wide variety of tracks, I think 18 is the number. Talking about the cars again, they look incredibly good, but if you look close, the decals and vinyls are poorly done and looks awful. This can be ignored if you're using the first person view, but you'll be disappointed while watching the replays.
Sound: First of all, I loved how the menus sounds. There is no music, but some sound effects of typical racing things, like tires screeching and cars braking. This is awesome and really worth of praise, it's just a simple thing, but believe me, it fits perfectly with the game. The car's engines also sounds great, but some doesn't sound like their real counterparts. A major flaw is the lack of an option to turn off the replay music. When watching the race, I expect to hear my car, but instead, I'm forced to listen to EA's playlist. There is also music going on during drift events. By default, the game is set to not play any music during regular races, but you can change this in the Options screen. Rather ironic, you can turn the music on, but can't turn it off.
Gameplay: As I stated before, you might get disappointed by this game either if you are looking for a racing sim or an arcade racer. After the first race in Career Mode, the game automatically sets the best suited driving level, from "Casual" to "Experienced" and such, and turn on or off some assists like the braking assist, turning assist and the racing line. No matter how the game sets it for you, you will want to change some of the options after a few races, because you'll realize you can make it better/easier. The biggest flaw in this game is the Career Mode, which is way too short and ridiculously designed. For me it feels like I am racing in the same championship every time. The Career Mode lacks variety. There is the regular races and drift events. Drifting is way too hard at first, but after a few tries, it becomes so easy it's kind of boring, because you always win and there is the lack of challenge. There are also the so called Driver Duels. Here you can experience another big flaw of this game: the cheap AI. In these 1 vs 1 races, your opponent often act like a racing god and will make no mistakes at all. This is very frustrating, because you don't feel like racing against another human driver, but rather against an android or a machine programmed to win. During regular races, the AI often rams into your car, making you lose control. The "restart" button - the Back button which makes your car go back on track - is broken, and I don't recommend relying on it too much. Another frustrating thing I noticed, you always start the race in one of the lasts places on the grid and the first two drivers always are racing gods. It's really hard to make all the way to the first place. There are too many drivers racing on the same track at the same time, and every race starts awful, all the cars are pushing against each other and there's no coordination between the AI drivers. Plus, if you get into their way, you'll be screwed in no time.
Overall: It seems like I bashed every single point of NFS Shift, but there are the good things about it. The track variety is great, but the Career Mode doesn't seem to make good use of that. But, you can always play on the Quick Race mode. All the tracks have dawn, midday and dusk settings, and they all look great. There's also a large selection of cars, but if you like customization, you might get disappointed again. The livery editor is the worse I've ever seen. Good thing, there are already 4 pre-made "paintjobs" per car for you to choose, so the editor is 100% unnecessary. Again, the first person view is worth of praise and probably is the best thing in this game. But gameplay is what really matters and Need for Speed Shift doesn't impress in that area. After NFS Undercover this game is amazing though. Maybe in the next year we'll see an improved version of Shift, but this is Need for Speed, so I wouldn't be surprised to see Undercover 2 in the future.
- Large variety of tracks
- Great selection of cars
- Graphics, first person view
- Career Mode lacks variety
- Cheap AI
- Drifting is unbalanced
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Need for Speed: Shift (US, 09/15/09)
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