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Need for Speed Shift – PS3 Patch fixes everything

When I first started playing NFS:Shift I thought it was great. The graphics, sound and handling were excellent, that was until I started to drive some of the high end cars.

This was when things started to go wrong, the cars just bounced and lurched from one corner to another. It was terrible and very difficult to enjoy.

But now its all fixed with a new patch. Gone are the problems with the handling and the game is back to its best. With Gran Turismo 5 still way off after what seems like a decades wait this is the best driving game out on the PS3 at the moment and should be the top of anyone’s Christmas list.

Full PS3 Need For Speed – Shift Review

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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.

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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.

Handling

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.

Opponent AI

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.

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Graphics

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.

Sound

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.

Gran Turismo 5 to get damage?

So Sony has just played the video that you see below at the 2009 E3 show and what do you see? Yes that’s it some damage at last, check out the front of that Subaru in the rally stages. They also seem to have added some Nascar racing to the mix, all great to see.

But no news on a release date yet or even any indication, how long do we have to wait? Its been over 4 years since GT4 that was launched on the PS2, are they trying to kill it off. Surely they can release it in stages with new downloads every quarter adding tracks and more features, but no its delay delay delay.

Anyway enjoy the updated video and all its potential new splendor.

Oh the joys of a new gadget, this time the PS3 – Review

Yes I know its been out for ages, but I’ve only just got approval from the finance director (read wife) but arrived it has.

Games Console

I’ve only got a few games so far but oh my is it a cracking console. For those that have waited to get one now is the time to go for it. Its whisper quiet and very fast, playing something like Burnout Paradise is a dream, jump on a bike and the sound and graphics are an absolute joy.

Games
Little Big Planet 10/10

What a cracking game. I got this in the bundle and didn’t thing I’d like it, the pictures just don’t do it justice. If you need something to sell getting the PS3 to your other half do it with this. They won’t think its much but get it through the door and they will love it. My better half loves it to bits, its interesting enough and not ‘too’ hard to make it frustrating and the controls are easy peasy. But you just have to love it as its so cute(I’m a bloke and yes I did say that), design your own character from things you pick up from the game or download from the store it just works.

The look and feel of the game as your playing is a joy, it never gets mboring, its a cross between Lemmings and manic minor (yes that was a spectrum game) but then good basic games sometimes do just work. Its this simplicity and purity than make it so special, I think its possibly the must have game on the PS3 at the moment, yes it really is that good.

Burnout Paradise 8.5/10

Well I had heard this was good but its not, its great. The graphics are good and but its the sound and the game play that makes it work. Each car is different and fun but then, you try the quick bike. What a hoot, you can throw it round and take it through tunnels and hear the change it the exhaust note the sounds is spot on, very realistic.

You aren’t going to learn the roads in two minutes its vast, not quite Test Drive vast on the PC but its not that far off. No you don’t kill people and do all the rest like Gran Theft Auto 4 on the PS3 but its still a great driving game, from what I’ve read possibly the best on the PS3. A must have if you like driving games.

Gran Turismo 5 Prologue 7/10

Well this was the big daddy of the PS3 but I won’t hold my punches its a mini game nothing more nothing less. It was the biggest draw to the PS3 and it is a great game but its just over to quickly. Why they don’t have physical damage yet is just plain daft, but then they say its due but thats not going to come until the full game or thats the latest potential.

The graphics are fantastic and a joy to drive through, I think it will get even better in the full game though its just missing that last tenth. The handling model has improved and is a little more tricky as a result, you feel the weight shift more than in the last game especially at high speed. Throw the GTR into a corner at high speed and get it wrong and you can feel the car losing it rather than gripping that just won’t happen in reality. It does mean its a little harder to finish it, I’m still to complete the top two races that seem to have got harder on the latest update. Its good, but with so few challenges and so few cars to play it just doesn’t justify its price tag compared to something as vast as Burnout.

Blu-Ray Player

But its no one trick pony of course, let it suck in a Blu-Ray disk and sit back to amazing depth and quality. Watching SkyHD in the UK is good but this is on a different level. The sounds is great as well on the right disk.

Media Player

More? well how does a media centre sound, yes lock it onto your own media server for me a Windows homeserver and it will immediately show all the tracks in your collection, all the images you have stored and all the movies and video you might have put in the server. It could do with a few tweaks to make it easier to search for the right track or album when you have a large collection, but when you find the right track it does a great job at playing it to the highest quality.

Sound

I’m sending the glorious sound via HDMI to my Onkyo 875 that just laps it up. Everything plays at the highest quality and without problem

Yes it justifies its own title. If you want to get the best from the PS3 you need an internet connection and a fast one at that. But Burnout today and it downloads three updates, how much, well

The Downloads

Yes it does justify its own title. To get the best from the PS3 you need a fast internet connection plain and simple. Take Burnout for instance, it had three updates the first time you put it in, first one 153Mb, second 73Mb and then another 10 at the end. If you have a slow connection thats going to take a while, so always put the new games in well before you might want to play them especially if they have been out for a while. Its not terrible but something that does become apparent. If you have been added into the PS3 Home Beta (A new on-line erm, experience) you will know what I mean, 73Mb to get started, then another updated before it lets you in then 4 other updates to before you can look round everywhere. It does mean a bug can be fixed but it does have its drawbacks.

Conclusion

If you are even remotely considering getting a PS3 go for it. If you have an HD ready TV and want to get the best quality of picture playback then get a PS3, I mean why just get a dedicated player that review after review in top HiFi magazines only put on a par to the PS3, it just doesn’t make sense. The fact that you get a cracking console that has some cracking games and a great media player all in one lovely box for less than £300 is a complete bargain. Its reached the right price point to make it work especially with the current deals, its a must buy for me.

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