Need For Speed Shift
I first got acquainted with the Need For Speed series by clocking my flatmateâ€™s copy of Need For Speed Underground. Later, I spent long hours with Most Wanted, acclaimed by many as the best in the franchise.
Regrettably, more recent instalments of the long running racing series have begun to look more and more like a money grab. So, not surprisingly, EA have decided to go with a full reboot with Need For Speed Shift. Instead of illegal street racing, races are now on the track (including several real life tracks such as Laguna Seca). The game is also closer to a simulation than an arcade racer, while still keeping that familiar Need For Speed edginess.
If all of this sounds awesome, well, I have some bad news. Itâ€™s not.
Certainly, there are a wide selection of drool-worthy vehicles, the graphics are crisp, and you get some of the most incredibly detailed dashboards (if racing in-car is your thing) of any racing game to date.
The problem though, is that in trying to be a Jack of all trade, Shift is a master of none. First of all, the feel of the racing itself is off. Some might find the in car effects â€“ your head tilts back as you speed up, and your vision goes blurry when you crash â€“ innovative and immersive. I found them distracting and nausea-inducing. But, that is far from the worst problem. The cars handle terribly. They all under steer like crazy, and the controls are far too sensitive. Thatâ€™s and issue, because if you veer off track, you will find out that the â€œgrassâ€ appears to be smeared with superglue.
The pacing of the career is not quite right either. You will have unlocked tiers 2 and 3 a long time before youâ€™ve completed tier 1, and so your motivation for driving a Ford Focus will go up in smoke, particularly with a Porsche on offer. And while Shift claims to reward you for your driving style â€“ precision or aggression â€“ I found that no matter how many power slides I performed and cars I bumped out of the way, Shift regarded me as a â€œprecisionâ€ driver.
Perhaps a few years ago, Shift would have cut the mustard. But in light of the competition, it just doesnâ€™t. The Forza series is still the king of the simulation on Xbox 360, the Burnout series owns the arcade racing side of things, and if you are after the kind of experience Shift seems to be aiming for, Racedriver GRID still does it better, and with better graphics to boot.
Unless you are a life-long Need For Speed devotee, or obsessed with picking up every racing game available, Iâ€™d give Need For Speed Shift a miss.
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Available on: XBox 360, PS3, PSP, PC