Need For Speed: Shift

When I was told that I would be reviewing Need for Speed: Shift on PS3 I sighed quietly to myself. After all, I reviewed Need For Speed: Undercover almost a year ago, and found it to be desperately lacking.

Fortunately, Need For Speed: Shift takes the NFS franchise in a different direction. So, this time around it’s not so much about pimping your ride and going out onto the city streets and getting into massive police chases. And when I say not so much, I mean not at all. The only similarity that Shift has with other NFS games like Most Wanted and Undercover is that they all feature cars. Shift takes the series up a gear from arcade racer to fairly serious racing simulator. The racing here is all done on real racing tracks, the drivers wear helmets and they don’t use the handbrake on every corner. And although you can tart up your car with stripes and vinyls here, you’re more likely to be installing a new set of suspension struts than a 12″ exhaust pipe.

If all this is making you think you’ll need a PhD in downforce and cornering to enjoy the game, then you’d be wrong. Shift offers a comprehensive range of driver assists, from steering to brake assist and even if you want anti-lock brakes etc. You can either have the racing line displayed or not, and you can choose between car damage being just for show or actually genuinely smashing your ride to pieces. In a nice touch, the game throws you into a car at the start with no driver assists on, and tests you out around one lap to see what level of help you’ll need. As it turned out, I needed a lot of help, after spinning the car off the first corner and straight into a wall (the game chose Normal for me, but it is possible to change it at any time).

On Normal mode the game’s handling felt realistic enough to be challenging whilst still being fun. For the purposes of this review, I tried out Pro mode and found it incredibly tough to get round even the most gentle of corners, but at least it’s nice to know the option is there for those hardcore racers among us.

One of the things that I found fascinating about Shift is the default view when you are driving. It’s the “in car” view where you can see your driver’s hands turning the wheel. I have never once in my life ever managed to get along with this view in a driving game, it’s too restrictive, it’s hard to see what’s going on and it’s annoying. Somehow, though, Shift pulls it off. It uses clever blurring techniques when you are travelling at speed to mute your car’s interior, whilst leaving the rival in front of your windshield pin-sharp. It doesn’t sound good on paper, but it really works. Of course, if you can’t get along with this view, you don’t have to use it, but it is incredibly immersive when you do. In fact, if you had to ask me to review Shift in one word that word would be “immersive”. The graphics are excellent, and fly along as the cars do. The interior view really makes you feel like you’re inside the car, and the engine and tyre  sounds are some of the most realistic I’ve ever heard – and sound particularly amazing when you go through a tunnel. I was also particularly impressed with the vibration in the Dualshock 3 controller, run over a rumble strip on the left and you feel it on the left side of the pad. There’s even a little bump through your controller as you change gear on fast straights.

With all these immersive little touches, hitting 215mph on a rare straight on the Nürburgring in a Bugatti Veyron is a thrilling and terrifying experience.







5 responses to “Need For Speed: Shift”

  1. John.B avatar

    Those interior views looks mighty swish.

    It does look great but with Gran Turismo and Forza on the horizon it’ll have to wait until I have all the facts.

  2. Samoys avatar

    lot about you

  3. John avatar

    I’m playing this through at the moment and although it a HUGE improvement over the simply horrid Pro-Street, I’m not totally bowled over. Yes, the graphics are nice, yes the tracks are decent and yes the cars are real cars, but I’m still left feeling a little ‘meh’ about it. I’m going to run through the career mode to it’s ultimate conclusion purely for personal satisfaction, but I’m more eagerly awaiting Forza3.

  4. kalvaza avatar

    Racing titles seem to be on par with games based on movies for depreciation. Might pick this up when it’s £10 in the January sales.

  5. Doctorset avatar

    This is the welcome page for the Association web site.

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