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Need for Speed Shift
Need for Speed Shift is a great racing game, but it’s like most every other great racing game in that there’s nothing new here. It’s a lot like one of the Gran Turismo games, but with much more forgiving controls and truly excellent graphics. If racing games are your thing, then this is the one to get. It is available for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Windows PC.
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Gameplay and Features
You begin this game with a little bit of money and the option to buy your own car. You’ll have ten or so to choose from, and your racing career starts there. After competing in a few events with your new vehicle, you will earn money to upgrade everything from the engine to the tires, and eventually you’ll start making enough money to buy a better car and upgrade it, too. By the time it is all over, you will have a small fleet of vehicles ranging from BMW’s to Ferrari’s. Your goal in the game is to compete in a series of racing events all over the globe, and as you get farther the cars will be faster and the racing tracks more complex.
This game uses an experience point system where you earn points for driving technique. As you gain levels in the game, you will get sponsors who give you money, plus it will unlock extra features for customizing your vehicles. You get experience points for winning races as well as doing things like passing other drivers, running them off the road, going a whole race without crashing, and so on. You can be awarded for either being aggressive or non-aggressive, but it is much more fun to crash into other cars. Depending on how well you drive, you can level up pretty quickly. This means you won’t be stuck driving the same vehicle for too long.
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I have seen several television commercials advertising this game, and part of the ad shows actual gameplay footage that looks like it came from a movie or a real race. This game really does look that good. I’m playing it on a 47” HDTV with an HDMI cable, so I have the highest possible quality picture and sound, and it looks stellar. The cars all look and move just like the real cars, and it’s the subtle details that really add to the realism. For example, you can see shiny reflections in the paint and glass on the vehicles. When you are driving at a high rate of speed, there’s a little bit of vibration on screen that really makes it look like you are moving fast. It’s almost dizzying to watch. The graphics in this game really show off the potential of the PS3 system’s video capabilities.
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The sound effects are typical of racing games in that you have the steady noise of the engine and the road. In surround sound, you can hear other vehicles coming up behind you. I can’t say that I even noticed the music at all, and that is mainly because you have to focus 100% on the driving and most everything else falls by the wayside. This is a game that you could play with the sound off and not really miss much, since the majority of the presentation is visual.
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Controls and Difficulty
Great graphics aside, I have always thought that the main thing that differentiates one racing game from another is the control system. I don’t care how great it looks when you can’t drive the cars. The controls in this game are pretty good, and they can be tweaked to your liking. I found that the steering wheel seems to be a little too sensitive and it’s easy to fishtail when trying to make a slight realignment on the road. On the other hand, I never actually spun out of control, even after running off into dirt or grass. That always happened to me in the Gran Turismo games, but not here. Because the game sometimes automatically brakes for you, I would describe the controls as forgiving.
This is not an overly difficult game because most of the drivers are not better than you. They do, however, seem to almost always have faster cars. If you want to win the races, the key to everything is learning how to corner properly. The basic idea is to slow down going into the curve and accelerate coming out of it, and if you can time this just right you won’t lose momentum and can pass the other drivers. On a wide open stretch of road, it seems like your car gets outrun every time. You might say this is a flaw in the AI or game design, but I think it works on some level because proper cornering is hard to master when different vehicles handle differently.
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There are tons of multiplayer options available in the game, and it’s always fun to go online and race other people. I also liked that the in-game menus will show you what your friends have scored on certain races. I have a friend who is also playing and it shows me his best score on each event. He’s a little better at the game than me, but it is still fun to have an extra goal to try and reach. I suggest you take the time to play through a bunch of the single player races in order to get a feel for the game before you try and compete online.
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Because there are so many cars you can buy and races to compete in, Need for Speed Shift is a racing game that will keep you busy for a long while. It doesn’t really offer anything new in terms of features or options, but what it does deliver is a solid gaming experience with some of the best graphics I’ve seen on the PS3.
Want more Need for Speed of all types? There are some superb NFS articles here on the console channel that you should check out:
Need for Speed Underground 2 Cheats for PS2