Need for Speed Shift

Need for Speed Shift Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360PS3PCiPhonePSP

Need for Speed Shift promises to replicate the true feeling of racing high-end performance cars like never before.

Review Verdict Read Review
8Out of 10
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Shift sets a new benchmark for the NFS series
Shift sets a new benchmark for the NFS series

Shift sets a new benchmark for the NFS series

When EA announced that it would be giving its Need for Speed games more development time to ensure the series would become known for quality, the racing community clapped politely, but weren't hysterical. Over the years the franchise has had far more critical flops than hits, with the arcade brilliance displayed in Most Wanted generally being overshadowed by the mediocrity of ProStreet and Undercover. So when the next NFS title was revealed as a sim racer, not an FMV laden open-world thrill ride, we were initially confused. Then we realised that developer Slightly Mad Studios is the team behind the superb GTR2, and then we played it. Things suddenly looked very positive for EA, until the release schedule revealed that DIRT 2, GT PSP, Forza 3 and GT5 were all due for release in the weeks surrounding Shift's debut. Just how many racers does the average gamer have time for?

Let's get the most important thing out the way first: Shift is easily the best NFS title in years, perhaps even the best ever. There's no question that EA and Slightly Mad have created a game that will please millions of racing fans around the world and that this is a great new beginning for the franchise. If you want a serious racer, complete with some great cars and tracks, and the best in-car view outside of real life, look no further than Shift. On that front everyone involved should be congratulated and given a hearty pat on the back. But we'd still love to ask some serious questions about a few of the design choices.

Shift has a fairly traditional career structure. Events are split into four tiers, with a fifth - World Tour - being the Holy Grail that all Shift drivers aspire to compete in. Inside each tier is a series of events (race, time trial, head to head, endurance, eliminator and drift), each having a number of stars and cash up for grabs, as well as being an opportunity to earn points that go towards your overall driver rank. At first it's all a tad confusing. Stars, earned for podium position, points earned and achieving set goals, go towards unlocking new events and tiers. You'll move from tier one to two fairly quickly, but from then on you'll need to perform well in lots of events in order to progress.

Points are earned in a way not too dissimilar to the Kudos system in the Project Gotham Racing series, although here they're split between Precision and Aggression. Precision points are awarded for sticking to the racing line, drafting behind other drivers and taking corners well, while Aggression points are dished out for ramming opponents and forcing them off the road while you remain on the tarmac. It's undoubtedly a system that has been designed to give each driver something of a blueprint of their own, but the Aggression points seem slightly at odds with the sim nature of the experience - you don't see many professional drivers deliberately using their cars as weapons.

The in-cockpit camera is brilliant

The in-cockpit camera is brilliant

The career mode will keep you playing for some time, and getting a complete set of stars will take even longer, but it would all be for nothing if the actual driving wasn't up to speed. When you first start the game you'll be asked to drive a test lap in order for the game to determine your skill level - do well and it'll be suggested that you drive with settings suited to an experienced racing game player, while a poor performance will mean the game will recommend a ton of assists. All these settings can be changed at any point, but the test lap (repeatable if you're not happy with your result) is a very good starting point.

In terms of how driving feels, it'll depend a lot on the assists you've got turned on, but in general we reckon Shift sits somewhere between the flash of Project Gotham Racing and complete seriousness of Gran Turismo. Complete hardcore sim fans may find that a little disappointing, but given the series' arcade heritage this is still a massive departure and will be a huge change from the norm for anyone who has stuck to the NFS franchise down the years. Analogue stick controls take some getting used to, with the sensitivity likely requiring a tweak or two to feel right, but once you've got a setup you're happy with the cars handle superbly well.

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User Comments

EISPower's Avatar


I call this one Pro Street with advanced graphics & i don"t now where the scores come from,the drifting sucks ( Try drifting in Carbon/Pro Street/Juiced 2/Underground 2 ) & i only respect the full assist driving mode.They tried to make a sim game well i don"t get it what is Collin Mc Rae Rally 2004/Dirt/Dirt2/Race Driver Grid.NFS Undercover might have not had the best graphics but compared to this one that game is a 10/1.Want graphics go for NFS Carbon/NFS Hot Pursuit 2010 or Burnout Paradise The Ultimate Box/Juiced 2/TDU1/TDU2.
Posted 09:50 on 10 March 2011
clangod's Avatar


You won't regret it tashie. Just be prepared for something very different to what you may expect from NFS.
Posted 21:18 on 08 November 2009
tashie55's Avatar
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is this game out yet or not lol. i have played all the need or speeds so i got to do this one aswell.
Posted 20:45 on 08 November 2009
clangod's Avatar

clangod@ Shipo

Have you played the demo???
Posted 11:40 on 03 October 2009
clangod's Avatar


If you're asking me Shipo the answer is no I haven't played the demo as there isn't one available on the PSN.
Posted 08:09 on 26 September 2009
Shipo's Avatar


have u played the demo
Posted 07:49 on 26 September 2009
clangod's Avatar


It looks great. I'm definitely interested but I do have one primary concern. Are there only two camera viewpoints (cockpit & external) or can I choose bumper or bonnet cam? I tend to prefer racers using either of the later mentioned. I've read nothing indicating that there is multiple views but i'm hopeful all the same.
Posted 07:47 on 26 September 2009
Helldrunkard's Avatar


This game really is GOOD all the Versions were really fun and new game features are exciting.
Posted 18:29 on 25 September 2009
Wido's Avatar


I have got NFS Shift on the PS3. I couldn't agree more with this review to be honest.

Well deserved 8 and its pushing towards a 9 for me as it has a FORD ESCORT COSWORTH! :lol:

Love them cars. 2 litre engine with the output of 217 bhp. Tuned outputs have gone over 1000 bhp.
Posted 15:53 on 25 September 2009
justbrett's Avatar


I’ve been playing NFS for over 10 years, and I think this is the best edition yet…the cockpit cam is great, and the physics are amazing. This is my first NFS on a next-gen system, and I’m blown away by the realism.

Also nice to see a good soundtrack, I was thrilled that they used Rootbeer’s “Under Control” – that’s definitely an awesome under-the-radar jam.
Posted 06:23 on 21 September 2009
danik69's Avatar


I expected around an 8. Cant justify buying this when i already have dirt 2 so think i will wait until it comes down in price and then buy it. Dirt 2 is so good im ok about it lol
Posted 10:44 on 15 September 2009


Cool review, im thinking of getting this first tbh. first meaning before Dirt 2 :) but not sure
Posted 10:34 on 15 September 2009
TomO's Avatar


Sorry guys, there are modding/tuning options. Added some info to the review. Assuming you've bought the right upgrades you're able to fine tune loads of stuff and if you're into custom decals you can combine simple shapes to make more complex stuff - beyond my skills though :)
Posted 10:19 on 15 September 2009
thpcplayer's Avatar


WEll it deserves a 9 acc. to me it really does
Posted 09:47 on 15 September 2009
K3RT's Avatar


I like the sound of Aggression driving this is what I tend to do in racing games anyway so getting rewarded for it will be a plus.
Is there any car modding/customization in it at all?
Posted 07:59 on 15 September 2009

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Need for Speed Shift
Out of 10
Need for Speed Shift
  • Great sense of speed
  • In-cockpit camera is superb
  • Precision and Aggression don't mix
  • Trackside detail isn't great
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 17/09/2009
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC , iPhone , PSP
Developer: Slightly Mad Studios
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Racing
No. Players: 1-8
Rating: PEGI 3+
Site Rank: 1,572 10
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