PS3 Review – Need for Speed: Shift

October 24, 2009Written by Draisey

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Even when I tried my hardest to ram my car into barrier after barrier, vehicle after vehicle, it still looked very recognizable, with entire sections of the car still completely pristine. Despite what the commercials imply, there’s not much destruction in this racing game, despite the high impact collisions and realistic vision blurring. Yes, sections of the car crumple and the hood flies off, but that’s about it. Like Gran Turismo, this game uses real vehicles, and the manufacturers are most likely the reason why the final version of Need for Speed: Shift seems to have less visual damage than what we see in games like Burnout and GRID. But that doesn’t mean that the damage doesn’t have any effect.┬áPrecision driving is the key to winning, and collisions quickly start screwing up the car’s handling and performance.

And the upside is that the actual driving experience is top notch. It’s not 100% realistic, but the way you have to approach the tracks is. Also, exercising a certain level of courtesy with your A.I. opponents is definitely not encouraged, which is awesome. The visible scoring system makes the racing addictive, and you’ll quickly find yourself going through turns faster and more efficiently by utilizing drifting techniques, in addition to trading paint with rival vehicles. It’s pretty much impossible not to drift through turns, as the cars in Shift eagerly slide through corners. But the fact that you can fine tune minute aspects of your car emphasizes the developer’s desire to add a secondary layer of depth to the title. It’s not required, but utilizing it will improve your overall experience.

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There’s a great customization system built into this game, allowing you to upgrade the car’s visual look (both exterior and interior) and overall handling and performance. And because it’s expensive to do this, you’ll find yourself trying to earn every last secondary goal in every race to squeeze out a few extra bucks. Also, there’s certain races in the game that are both quick and profitable. Learn to exploit them, and you’ll have the ultimate racing car in under an hour. That said, there’s a huge amount of content in the game. Just when you think you’ve seen every car or race track the game tosses out several new ones for new to try. The invitational events are my favorite, as they give opportunities to try out new, high horsepower vehicles that you may be interested in purchasing later down the line.

This also bring’s up EA’s dirty little secret regarding DLC content in this game. You can cheat by buying a car that you can’t afford yet. In fact, they make this pretty obvious within the first 15 minutes of the game. If a gorgeous, high-performance vehicle isn’t within your fake-monetary reach, just cough up some hard earned cash if you want it instantly. An hour of skillful racing, or two bucks off your PSN account? The choice is yours. The game also encourages players to take their custom rides online, but the experience isn’t anywhere near as compelling as the Career Mode, and for good reason.

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