LT Panel
RT Panel
Just Visiting
Tuesday | September 18, 2018
Popular Review Links:
Need For Speed: Shift (X360 & PS3)

Need For Speed: Shift (X360 & PS3)

If you have already uttered a groan due to seeing yet another Need For Speed game then take heart because Electronic Arts have passed the development to Slighty Mad Studios (the guys behind GTR) and ‘Shift’ is all the better for the fresh perspective. I would actually go as far to say that this is the best NFS game I can remember.

Many of you will be pleased to hear that the franchise has taken a welcome change in direction from the weird handling arcade style racer to the more realistic simulation zone. Now before you break out in a sweat, I use the word ‘simulation’ rather loosely. Developer Slightly Mad Studios have smartly decided to give the gamers a racing experience which is more like a real life scenario but have opted to keep the controls more in an arcade zone to attract as wide an audience as possible. While many simulation racers will immediately scoff at this mixture, it is worth saying that the end result is that the game plays extremely well, with realistic movement and handling being the order of the day.

NFS Shift has ditched the open world setting and opted for a track based style of racing which will appeal to Need For Speed purists of yesteryear. I almost wet myself when I heard that Nurburgring was one of the selectable tracks and it is wonderfully represented ingame – certainly the scenery is not totally accurate but I appreciate that developer spiced up the environments to make them more appealing. There are around twenty tracks in total and all of them are lovingly designed and created for a great racing experience.

This time there is no story involved and I am glad to see the overpaid actors getting ditched and the money spent on improving the handling and tracks. There are no pompous cut scenes from some dumb semi clad woman saying how poorly you raced and how she is ditching you for another racer – this is a return to racing form for EA’s latest title.

So far I perhaps haven’t painted an exciting picture for Drift but the racing is stellar. Switching to first person mode in the cockpit of the cars adds a massive amount of realism to the proceedings. Every car in the game has a unique inside view which, when I looked at the detail, blew me away. The view shifts when the accelerator and brakes are applied and if you nail the accelerator on a corner, your head which shift accordingly to reflect the internal G forces of the chassis. The camera is fully dynamic and mirrors the real life situation you would be in if you were actually driving the car. It is a subtle touch that adds a huge level of immersion to the experience without becoming distracting, after a short while I did not realise it was actually there anymore but returning to another racing game’s cockpit view showed me how much I actually missed it when it was removed. Even after a crash you will get tossed around and the colour scheme will revert to black and white as your head get bounced about and your vision blurs.

This sense of realism extends to the immersive nature of the feeling of speed throughout the game – because when you are sitting at 200mph, by god you will know it. Racing the Bugatti Veyron or Koenigsegg CCS is about as close to the real thing as most of us with ever get and loosing control of the motor on a corner is almost enough to move your stomach into your mouth. The fact that you can feel the various ground surfaces through the handling and when the car is about to loose traction is a wonderful touch.

This is also one of the few racing games I can remember that gives you a great feeling of being able to control a car in various circumstances – for instance just before you get the impression the car is about to lose traction you can adjust your driving style to compensate and hopefully keep it pointing in the right direction. The games driving mechanics have a great sense of realism with just enough arcade elements to keep it enjoyable – believe it or not, there are a very small percentage of us with enough driving skill to keep a Veyron on the road, flat out. It is this combination of stunning cockpit view, realistic control mechanics and heart pumping track design that make this one of the most enjoyable racing experiences I can remember. I don’t think the racing accuracy is quite up there with Gran Turismo however it really is still very impressive.

The Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 versions are almost graphically identical with the 360 having better anti aliasing applied, however I think the PS3 version is slightly more detailed so in the end it pretty much balances out.

On an audio level the game also impresses. The noises of the engines are all sampled from the actual cars so if you have a high end audio output the sound is simply stunning. All the audio of tyres squealing and the clutch slipping are mirrored perfectly in the game – there really are not enough adjectives to thoroughly describe how awesome this aspect of the game really is. If I told you that the developer have opted to turn off annoying music once the racing starts (so you can focus on the cars) it will give you a good indication that this is not a run of the mill racing game – they have thought it through.

The Drift events are not my favourites because the developer have opted to change the physics to suit a more ‘cartoony’ style of racing which just didn’t gel with me. If you hit the accelerator hard then the car will spin out, even in a straight line from the start. The vehicles are programmed to be difficult to manage and it is your task to guide them carefully around the tracks. Thankfully the career mode is set in such a way that you can avoid these entirely, which I did after a short time of getting annoyed at the way they worked.

The Career mode is great fun and you earn stars for almost anything, such as finishing in a high position in a race to completing a special per event objective. As you progress through your career these stars unlock the additional tiers which means you get access to more difficult events and more impressive cars. You also earn profile points which you get for taking corners or following racing lines well. These profile points are tied into options for earning additional parts for your cars as well as free cars or bonus cash. The game rewards everyone for even the most mundane aspects of the game, which will appeal greatly to a younger audience who might find most ‘grown up’ racing games very difficult.

There are a total of approximately 65 cars in the game which means that almost everyone’s favourite will be in the mix and while there are certainly ‘best’ cars in each specific class you are able to collect all your favourites, if you play well enough. Spending time (and money) at the dealership means you can pump a lot of money into the upgrades which can significantly improve even the best cars. Some specific events require a certain car and by doing this the game attempts to keep you on an even footing with the opponents which works well.

The online side of the game is pretty fun but quite limited. There is a straightforward Quick Race option (both ranked and unranked) which is exactly what you would expect but there is also a Driver Duel mode which is great fun. There are a selection of levels in the ladder that you are trying to climb and you start at the very bottom facing another racer at the same level. This means you move from basic tracks and vehicles to supercars on very technical tracks. If you get beaten you return to the very lower rung of the ladder which makes it very challenging.

Need for Speed: Shift is a fantastic return to form for this high profile franchise. Electronic Arts made the perfect decision of handing the development work to a creative team and as such it has breathed new life into a somewhat stagnant series of racing games. The circuit design is brilliant and the handling of the cars is superlative. While it won’t appeal to the hardcore simulation fanbase, everyone else will enjoy this title, immensely.


The driving experience is the best this franchise has seen.
Fantastic, with only a minimum of popup.
Stunning effects and engine sounds throughout.
Great single player experience backed up by a fun online mode.

Put this on your ‘to get’ list.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

It appears you have AdBlocking activated

Unfortunately AdBlockers interfere with the shopping cart process

To continue with the payment process can we ask you to

deactivate your AdBlocking plugin

or to whitelist this site. Then refresh the page

We thank you for your understanding

Hardwareheaven respect you right to employ plugins such as AdBlocker.
We would however ask you to consider whitelisting this site
We do not allow intrusive advertising and all our sponsors supply items
relevant to the content on the site.

Hardwareheaven Webmaster