Need for Speed SHIfT
Date: Sunday, September 27 @ 13:50:24 EDT
Topic: Action Game Reviews
If GRID, FORZA and PGR had a threesome, Need for Speed SHIFT would be left on the sheets in morning.
Let me begin by saying that SHIfT was not a typo. Need for Speed SHIFT is not a good game, contrary to what IGN, TeamXbox, Gametrailers and others may be telling you. And this is not a bad review for the sake of giving a good game a bad review. No, this game is not good.
I also have to say that i really wanted to like this game. I have stuck with these series for a long time now and I own every single Need for Speed game ever made. However, SHIFT should not be bought by anyone.
First time you fire the game up, you are thrown into a single race that will determine how difficult the game will be. You are also greeted by some disembodied voice with a fake british accent that gives you lame pointers and tries to hype you up in completely flat tone. Who is this guy? Where is he? Why is he talking to me? Plot grows thicker. After you finish the lap, the game tells you your supposed difficulty setting. As a veteran of racing games on both PC and Consoles, I consider myself pretty good, but the game still thought I had to have the easy setting. Well, fuck a duck, I'm going Expert with all assists off.
Therein lies the first problem with the game. The cars handle terribly. I guess EA thinks that "ultimate driving experience" consists of constantly trying to keep your car from going sideways. Even the weakest of the weakest cars oversteer as if they were 1000hp monsters. Even with analogue acceleration and breaking, courtesy of 360 controller, even at 10% acceleration your cars will burnout and wheelspin as if they were driving on molten lard. It makes the whole driving experience an exercise in frustration. Steering isn't any better, sadly. Anyone who has driven a car will tell you that cars usually like to go in a straight line until prompted to go sideways. SHIFT begs to differ.
Also, the game thinks that if you crash into a wall at 200mph, you will get away with some blurred vision and a scratch. And that's on REALISTIC damage setting. Hey, SHIFT, bunch of dead race drivers called, they want their money back.
Ok so it handles like SHIT, and it is not a sim, contrary to what it says on the box. But it must be a t least very pretty. Well, yes and no. The menu is style-ish, but very confusing and not very practical. The car models look good until you see the replays when they get this weird shine that makes them look extremely fake. The replays are there but the camera angles are pretty bad and the game loses sense of speed. Cockpit views are the only good part about the graphics. They look amazing. Every gauge works as its supposed to, it counts miles driven, boost etc etc. With different upgrades, you can see the interior change. One thing though, a lot of cars have a clock displayed and that clock never works. It may be a small thing but it bugs me when I've been racing for good six minutes and my clock in the car is just as it was when I started. Making it show real time or at least advance would have made it much more immersible.
But there is also a problem with cockpit view. You're supposedly in the head of your driver, yet your point of view bounces so much, you'd think the guy has full-body Tourettes syndrome. Every bump, turn, nudge, every little insignificant move results in your view shifting and rolling, making it really hard to see what you're doing and where you're going. In real racing, the drivers don't actually move their heads around like that, or they would throw up, or break their neck while crashing. They really wanted to give the game that feeling of being the driver that GRID nailed, but they over did it and all it gives you is nausea.
The car selection is pretty decent, though there are a few questionable choices. A skyline GT-R from 1970's? Who would possibly buy that ugly piece of crap when there's an S2000 and a BMW 135 available for same price? But you have your Supras, and bunch of Skylines, and Stangs, and Dodges, and so forth. The car selection is better than most ARCADE racers, but for the game that calls itself a SIM, it's sorely lacking.
Then there's customization. Since this game is a "SIM", you can only do stuff to your car that is sort of realistic. Tier 1 Cars get most available upgrades, and Tier 4 cars barely get any. It makes sense. What doesn't make sense is why you can't preview the rims you're about to buy. You select the manufacturer and then you see a small icon of the wheel, but unlike all previous NFS games, you cant preview the wheel until you buy the damn thing.
Also, in keeping with tradition of Need for Speed, you can put vinyls onto your car. Unfortunately, the vinyl system is so backwards that you'll give up soon after trying to put first vinyl onto your ride. First of all, the car is separated into different zones. The game, however, thinks that FRONT of the car doesn't include its hood, no matter how hard I tried to extend my vinyl from bumper to the hood, it just wouldn't show up on the hood. Oh and all the manufacturer decals are now considered vinyls, so have fun placing each and everyone of them by hand. Also, you can no longer resize/flip/stretch on the fly. Each one of those functions has a separate menu. So you select a sticker, highlight it, then you select MOVE. You then select a zone where you want to put it. Then you exit all that and go to next function. Stretch. Select the vinyl and start stretching. And so forth. This takes forever, and as previously stated, some zones are glitched up so your car ends up looking like ass. Whatever happened to simple and easy to use NFS menus is a mystery.
Thankfully, designers realized that most people dont have the patience to make a custom livery that doesn't suck, so every car has 4 pre-made liveries littered with ads and ugly designs and, BACK FROM YEAR 2002, are the dreaded low-res jaggy vinyls. Honestly, I thought we were through with this after ProStreet?
So, thus far, the game handles like SHIT, the insides of a car are pretty but most of the time your bobble-headed driver won't let you see it and you can't make your car look good. What else do we have left?
Career is a series of races arranged according to tier. Every race has a number of stars assigned to them that you get for performing certain tasks. Most stars are for finishing first, finishing in top 3, getting some points etc etc. Yes, the game in 2009 still gives you STARS for driving well. Oh, and the game also has a point system for performing certain driving feats like, say, driving straight, overtaking a car. PGR called, it wants KUDOS back. Only these points are given for both driving well AND driving like an n00b (or what the game calls "aggressive"). Based on how many points you get in the proper/n00b driving category, you level up. Hello there, FORZA. Only in FORZA, leveling up served specific purpose, of you know, progressing through the game, in SHIfT leveling up system only gives you MOAR VINYLS and some random cash.
So, the game handles like crap and it rewards you for being a dick and crashing into everything. Does it at least sound good? Well, you see, this game takes everything good about cars and makes them EXTREME! Every aspect of driving a car is exaggerated and/or slowed down, as if the designers thought that the target audience are either energy-drink junkies or complete retards. Your driver takes forever to switch gears, even with automatic shifting. (Mind you, this doesn't mean your gearbox is automatic, it just means your bobble-head will lazily shift whenever he feels like it ). Every car also sounds as if it has a 1000hp V12 under the hood. Even a stock S2000 sounds like a tank. Note to EA, most cars have very subdued engine noises, unless they're purpose-built racers. In SHIFT, every engine is so loud, its as if you hooked up your cars audio system to your engine and then turned it all the way up.
Oh, and it nod to PC gamers everywhere, EA only recently released a patch that "adds" LAN gaming and mouse support. God forbid PC gamers would wanna use a mouse with their PC game out of the box.
If I were to give this game a number based on me liking it, I'd give it a 0. However, as a game, it can barely manage a 6. There are better games out there that do what this game tries and fails to do.