Tired of the same old, same old? Have pimped out cars, ridiculous body kits and time-consuming cop chases outstayed their welcome? If so, do we have the game for you! It’s called Need for Speed: Shift, and it’s attempting to take the franchise in a different direction by creating a new, more realistic racing experience.
As soon as you turn the key of Shift, the developers attempt to hurl you into a completely different world than you’d expect. The career mode sends you through four tiers of races before propelling you into the world championships, with each tier offering different cars and race types. EA has jammed Shift with a ton of different race variations, including drifting, one on one, and manufacturer-specific types.
The player receives stars during races to unlock new tiers and events. Spinning out an opponent, drafting, and clean takeovers will all add to your star tally, though these maneuvers are rarely easy to pull off as many tracks require you to master every turn to advance. One cool aspect of NFS: Shift is that it tracks your precision and aggressiveness, as your character will gain experience and skills based on the way that you drive. You’ll be bestowed with the aggressive driving style if you carelessly spin out other racers to get ahead, while you’ll get pegged with the precision style if you’re a clean racer with good timing. As such, other drivers will react to you depending on your style. This adds a layer of strategy to the racing that just wasn’t present in previous Need for Speed titles, as you’ll have to use more than just money to pass the competition here.
Shift is a far more realistic racing experience than fans of past games might be ready for. You can’t just bolt into a wall and jam on the turbo button to boost your way out of a mistake this time around, as precision and skill are constantly needed. The game paints a driving line on the track to help you get accustomed to it all, which changes from green to red to let you know when to speed up or slow down. Utilizing this feature is key, as carelessly careening off of the track might cost you more than just a few MPH. The developers have struck a solid balance between realism and fun, and the adjustable assists should help anyone settle into this style of play.
With all things considered, Need for Speed: Shift is a welcome breath of fresh air for a series that really needed it. A great selection of cars, challenging tracks, and a chance to win the world championship should keep racing fans locked into their wheels with this one for awhile.