PS3 Review – Need for Speed: Shift

October 24, 2009Written by Draisey

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True to real-life circuit racing, the game rewards players for both precision driving and aggressive driving, and based on how you drive the challenges in the game will adjust to demand the opposite from you. If your driver profile is deemed Aggressive, expect to see a lot more Precision-based challenges, and vice-versa. It’s a smart system that acts similar to a driving instructor. Those who play Need for Speed: Shift will unknowingly become better, more capable racing drivers because the game forces them to improve upon their weaknesses. There’s no way to fully complete the game without being proficient in both racing styles, and it’s willing to teach you how to pull it off.

There’s a multitude of options that not only teach the proper racing lines for each circuit, but also the proper braking patterns. By default, the game has automatic braking implemented, which act as digital training wheels. They’re useful up to a certain point, but eventually they wear out their usefulness and you can act independently without them. And honestly, this game works best without absolutely any HUD, as the EA representatives joyfully pointed out back at E3.

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Playing the game in the driver’s seat without any HUD is about as close as anyone will get to real-life circuit racing, and that’s a huge deal. Even Gran Turismo doesn’t go as far as to simulate the effects of dramatic fluxes in speed and gravity on the driver, and that’s what makes Need for Speed: Shift ultimately stand out from the crowd. But there is a big drawback.

The windshield, like much of the car, is prone to damage and quickly becomes a visual nuisance. As much as I loved the driver view, a few minor collisions with other cars or the barrier can quickly make completing a race a big hassle. Changing to any of the other views immediately makes the game easier to play, and while they could have eliminated the windshield damage, there really should have been an extra reward put in place for completing entire races from the driver’s perspective. The driver’s perspective also exposes some unexpected flaws in the collision system, as sections of other vehicles (including tires) can end up poking through the windwhield. The damage in the game also isn’t as realistic as it should be.

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