Game Reviews

Need for Speed: Shift

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Need for Speed: Shift

A lot of racers have taken a turn for the outrageous in recent years, prioritising aggression and ‘extreme’ tactics along with car crashes and practically unlimited boosting powers.

For the most part this has been a welcome mutation of the racing genre. But, in a way, the more authentic racing games have all but disappeared as a result.

With this in mind, Need for Speed: Shift trades ridiculousness for realism. And it's all the better for the change.

Drifting off

The single-player Career mode is the game’s shining light. You compete across 28 stages in events with different objectives in an effort to earn stars that open the way to new events and locations.

For example, placing first in a three-lap circuit race will earn you three stars, while placing second in an Elimination event (whereby the person in last place is eliminated after each lap) will get you two stars, and so on.

There are also stars within each event that are earned by doing particular things, like beating the best lap time or never going off the road.

This way you don’t always need to complete everything in order to progress. Instead, you can focus on what you’re good at or what kind of events you enjoy the most, whether that’s drifting events, eliminations, or time trials.

Drifting itself is enjoyable but quite difficult to get the hang of when you first start out. Luckily, this has more to do with how your car is designed to handle realistically at high speeds, rather than being a fault with the controls.

Can you handle this?

In fact, the Xperia Play’s buttons give the racer a fully 'console' feel in a way they sometimes fail to in other titles. Gone is the accelerometer, used for steering in the iPhone version and on other Android phones. In its place is the trusty D-pad or touchpad (whichever you want).

Meanwhile, drifting is activated by tapping the L or R shoulders according to which direction you're turning in. This replaces the somewhat unpredictable method of twitching the phone quickly in one direction to activate a drift and it feels like a healthy improvement, even if it still takes some practice to master.

This difficulty is actually one of the appealing things about Shift. Partly it has to do with you becoming accustomed to handling your vehicle and partly it has to do with keeping your car upgraded so that it can compete well with your opponents.

By winning events you earn cash to spend on upgrading performance attributes like top speed, acceleration, tires, suspension, and nitro capacity. But you also need to save enough money to spend on new cars which eventually become unlocked.

Tires, some

The game does have flaws, but they're so few in number as to be completely negligible. The initial difficulty of the drifting events can get frustrating, for example, and a lot of the same routes are repeated throughout.

What’s more, the local multiplayer for up to four people feels like something of an afterthought.

But these are only tiny scratches on an otherwise shiny bonnet. If you’re looking for a racer that will be a nice change of pace from the fashionable ‘xtream’ crowd then you'll appreciate Shift’s more measured style.

Need for Speed: Shift

Need for Speed: Shift is a welcome return to a more steady and reserved style of racing and the lengthy and enjoyable Career mode will earn it a lot of fans
Brendan Caldwell
Brendan Caldwell
Brendan is a boy. Specifically, a boy who plays games. More specifically, a nice boy who plays many games. He often feels he should be doing something else. That's when the siren call of an indie gem haunts him. Who shall win this battle of wills? Answer: not Brendan.