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Need for Speed Shift Review
developer: Slightly Mad Studios
|ESRB rating: E
release date: Sep 15, 09 (released)
|» All About Need for Speed Shift on ActionTrip|
After the below par Need for Speed: ProStreet and Need for Speed: Undercover, EA isn't prepared to weigh anchor and calmly abandon its once popular racer franchise. The latest NFS game marks a fresh start for a series. This seems like an almost impossible task for a series that changed its design and play style so many times. How does one regain faith of NFS fans and at the same time make it interesting for new-comers? Such an endeavor is difficult enough as it is. Quite simply, because of the previous two lackluster releases, there's a lot to make up for.
Hold it, which button am I suppose to press now?
Man, look at her go!
Need for Speed SHIFT does away with the story-driven experience from Undercover. The game also has less of an arcadish feel to it, placing increased emphases on more realistic driving and traditional racing events. During the Career mode, players are offered a range of races and challenges to go through before more "serious" events and vehicles are unlocked. It doesn't take too long to get to those, because a majority of tracks at the beginning are rather short. Also, despite the developers move to increase realism and add more believable car physics, the game itself isn't too difficult even when you've switched every assist option available. For those of you who need the help though, it's possible to set how much you want the CPU to assist during breaking and steering. If that's not enough there's a track indicator placed on the road, showing when the player should slow down or speed up.
There's no shortage of super-cars, that's for sure. You'll be glad that there are a lot of tracks on offer as well. Although it's not exceptionally difficult, SHIFT is a suitable test for your driving skills. The AI in this game does a good job of adapting to the player's driving style. Competitors know how to take advantage of your mistakes, while doing their best to stay in the race and achieve a decent score.
Speaking of scores, NFS SHIFT features an RPG-like score system with specific awards given to the player depending on the event was completed. More aggressive drivers -- those who don't hesitate to push other cars off the track - get a specific amount of points, as do those who manage to finish a 'clean' race. Eventually, you get an overall score that either leans more towards an 'aggressive' or 'precision' driving style, or indeed something in between. It's simple and easy-to-get-into. You also accumulate experience points, in addition to receiving cash rewards, which, again, hinge on your overall performance. An important part of this is completing specific challenges during each race, thus collecting 'stars' and increasing your chances to enter the NFS World Tour. Hm, an element very similar to what's available in DiRT 2.
Well, it's easy when there's nobody around.
I'd like to take this sucker through daily traffic. Just once.
Apart from that, SHIFT shares another similarity with Codematers' DiRT 2. The races become considerably more entertaining if you're playing against real opponents. You get additional fun and challenges thanks to the point system. Of course, being online during a single-player game also has its advantages. Players can check out leader boards and compare their best times in races to other players.
From a technical standpoint, the game works just fine. It also looks good, although still far behind games like DiRT 2 and what we're bound to see in future races like Turn 10's Forza Motorsport 3 and Polyphony Digital's Gran Turismo 5. The sound effects are okay and the choice of music is acceptable (also, thank God they've refrained from using those annoying announcers like in Pro Street).
When you consider all the ups and downs of this one, I must admit it just doesn't retain thrill we've got from titles like Most Wanted and the Underground series. Granted, it's a different type of game now, so it may be a bit unfair to assume this would bring the same amount of excitement you get from cop-chases or story-based races and challenges. Yes, it's a different game. But it's simply not fun anymore. Not to mention, it lacks a unique touch - something that would make it stand out from other competing games in the genre. Outside the multiplayer, I'm afraid there's little reason to keep returning to Need for Speed SHIFT. Solo play starts to feels thin and repetitive after about an hour or so. Perhaps it's better to rent this one before purchasing it.
Definitely a better experience than both Pro Street & Undercover, enough cars, events and tracks to keep you occupied for days, the reward system works well in multiplayer and single-player;
In the end not much of a challenge, still not the comeback we were hoping for, certainly hasn't restored the series' former glory.
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