PS3 Review – Need for Speed: Shift
Not only are the races composed of only a handful of opponents at a time, they can be incredibly unbalanced, and in some cases unfair. There’s a built-in penalty system that punishes overtly aggressive behavior, as well as going off course for more than a fraction of a second. Despite this, opponents still tend to ram each other (and you) off the track at every opportunity. The penalty system doesn’t work all the time, and will even punish victims of bad driving. Getting a five second “corner-cutting” penalty sucks when you were shoved off the track by someone else. There’s enough incentive in the game to at least try out the online mode, but not enough to stick with it for very long. This is evident in the fact that only half of the eight opponents in an online race are still there after the first two laps. Many tend to quit once they realize that 3rd place isn’t going to happen for them.
The graphics are something that really stood out to me in Need for Speed: Shift. The developers smartly used motion blur and high-end shaders to accurately mimic the way cars look in real life. The environments are also expansive and beautiful. It’s not quite on the same level Gran Turismo in terms of lighting or sheer polygon counts, but it should give all other racing games on the market cause for jealously. In the end, it’s the lack of significant car damage that ends up holding back the game from looking truly spectacular during the more violent crashes. It’s odd to see cars flipping multiple times on the asphalt, only to come out of the wreckage in flawless condition. Hopefully the manufacturers will be more open to realistic visual damage in the next outing.
Despite some minor flaws, I can confidently state that the Need for Speed series has been successfully rebooted and definitely has a promising future in the hands of Slightly Mad Studios. There’s room for improvement in terms of online multiplayer balance and implementation, as well as collision physics, but the core product is still very well done. Need for Speed: Shift offers countless hours of replayability, and the intensity of the driving experience really is second to none. If you’re short of ideas for a quick Christmas gift, you won’t go wrong with this game.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Online multiplayer has balance issues, despite compelling rewards.
Incredible presentation style, and tons of in-game content.