Full PS3 Need For Speed – Shift Review
Every racing game you play on the PS3 is always measured against Gran Turismo it is after all the daddy of racing games on pretty much any format. So its always with much trepidation when you first load a new racing game to see how it measures up, because lets face it, its not going to be as good as GT is it…. well lets see.
NFS – Shift Game Overview
You start the game by doing a single lap short Brands Hatch circuit in a BMW M3, its this that sets up how much assistance the game is going to give you and how tough the AI is going to be. For me it didn’t quite turn out right as when it goes across the line and I had my foot flat to the floor the M3 wanted to spin like a top and I got a right swapper on, needless to say it didn’t end well. It kind of work but I still tweaked the settings, I didn’t need brake assistance and I wanted a stronger opponent so I upped it from easy to Medium. You then do an initial race that decides how much money you are going to get. I came second so I got $37,000 dollars to speed.
So what do you buy as your first car? Well I went for the 135i BMW and a cracking choice it has been. I didn’t want any of the 4wd Audi’s and the BMW already has good handling and is quick on the road so off I went.
Points make prices
Each game wants to add to the racing genre so what does NFS – Shift add? Points for being good and bad, yes if you leave it late to break into a corner and smash another drive out of the way then you get some points to help advance your career. But if you want to have a nice clean race, then hold the racing line, brake at the right time (take note of the changing racking line, if you are on it and its read you really need to brake) and you will get the same points for doing it right, nip inside of another car without touching them and you will get points for a clean pass, or just nip across an apex to master the corner and it gives you a bag load of points. Meet the criteria of that race and get first and you will get a full rack of stars that bring extra points and more challenges.
This is fairly important for a racing game, it needs to be able to react well to how you might think the car drives and in this type of game provide entertaining handling, but does it deliver? In buckets, its Brilliant with a capital B, OK so I’m playing with a new wheel (more of that later) but I’ve been playing GT Prologue all week and this is so much better its untrue.
Power out of a corner and you can nicely hold a drift or correct a slide easily and adjust your line, brake late and you can just about ease off the brake and tip toe around the outside of the corner just like you can in a car at a circuit. OK so I have a low ABS setting and the same for traction control again on low but who cares, I want the game to entertain me and it does. It makes the handling model of Gran Turismo feel wooden by comparison and yes with similar settings.
Each new car you drive also feels different as it should, take an MX5 for a drive and you can see why people rave about it, it feels fantastic, step into a DB9 and it feels properly quick but a bit cumbersome as well, you can feel the extra weight and lack of braking power that I bet is also apparent in the road car.
I have to say I’ve never wanted to go back and play a racing game more than this one, that includes all the GT and GTR/2 the lot, as a combination of a fine handling model and just a damn good fun it has to be up there with the very best, in short they have a winner on their hands in my opinion.
Tuning the Car
So you have bought your car and earned a few points and a bit of money so what can you do with it. Well the game also has a nice little upgrade center. You can make the car lighter, add uprated suspension, racing exhaust or add an aero package, the whole lot. You can also change the paint colour or add vinyls its a nice additional touch that only adds to the game and draws you in even more.
They are fiendish little things, brake a bit early and they will nip around the outside of you on the higher tiers, they are inteligent and will try to block you and they will easily out brake you if you try and take it easy. But if you attach they will also push back, you feel like you are driving a good on-line but fair competitor, it makes the game great fun to play.
Its good, but not quite GT polished good, but it really doesn’t matter, there is plenty of detail and there is never any slowdown or frame rate issues at any point. Things aren’t as slick or as polished but then I’m concentrating on clipping the apex and getting the line right and not looking at the view across the valley, but don’t take this as the graphics being bad they aren’t they are actually very good. They have also used the graphics to enhance the race, smack into the side of another car and the colour will suddenly go and the screen goes black and white, smack into the back of a car and the screen goes blurred so you can try and cheat but you can’t see for a while afterwards.
I’d hate to think that anyone would not buy this game because the graphics aren’t GT good, but then hey we have waited 5 damn years for an updated full GT game (way way way too long) and still no idea when it might appear, NFS Shift is here now…!! Check out the video below, it looks sweet.
You can’t have a good racing game without great sound and this game has great sound. Drive through a tunnel and you can hear the exhaust get louder as it ricochets off the walls. Each car sounds the same as the road cars do that I’ve heard, they haven’t just tired to make a sound something like it should, they have obviously done a fair bit of sampling to get the sounds just right. The effects when you skid or hit another car are good and the sound really works, you want to drive another car to see how interesting the engine is going to sound. Its one of those racing games that you play that little bit to loud because you just want to feel like you are in the car.
Any Bad Bits?
Well not really, I’d like it to remember my screen choice, not have to set it each time I race, but that might be fixed in a update. More circuits would be nice and more cars but so far I’ve not played many again so its not really a complaint yet.
Conclusion – Rating 9/10
As a game to entertain and offer brilliant handling, great graphics and some new and entertaining features its great. I’ve not played any of the NFS series for a while, but I used to love playing it on the PC, its more circuit based and less road biased than in the past but its still a cracker. If you have been thinking I will wait until GT 5 comes out don’t get this and sod them it really is a good match. No there isn’t a massive list of cars, but that just means you spend more time upgrading and playing will your current cars, lets be honest how many of the 1000 cars in GT will you actually drive anyway. I’ve dropped a point because the graphics could be a little bit better but then again I’m glad they just got the game out and spent more time on the driving model.
I mean I’ve just driven a large junk of the Nurburgring, which was great fun and it felt far more realistic than it does in GT, its great go and buy it and I hope there will be some new DLC to keep the game fresh for a long time to come. GT, eat NFS brake fluid, your days could be numbered.