Need for Speed: Shift Review 07/10/2009


Not perfect, but (at last) a really decent NFS game.

Now I have been playing Need for Speed games even before the PS2 days of “Underground”, the game of course that made the franchise as well known as it is today, and threw it into the world of customising and tuning. Before that came titles such as “Hot Pursuit”, a game I spent many hours as a young lad on my PC, being the police car and chasing down naughty boy racers. At the time it was awesome! Need for Speed is also the most successful racing franchise ever, would you believe, having been around since the 90’s, however, I wouldn’t say I’m a die-hard fan-boy of the franchise, being that several titles in the franchise have been total crap. Un-flushable turd’s such as NFS “Carbon” and “Undercover” spring to mind which were just so lame, short-lived and shallow. I didn’t even like “Underground 2” as it was too easy and also far too short. These titles are not necessarily awful, but just played like they were designed very quickly, in an EA developer’s lunch break, and put together simply in an effort to make a quick buck, rather than a desire to make a joyful celebration of vehicle, tuning and track. I even abandoned the franchise for the first time when “Undercover” was released and bought Midnight Club: LA, a good game, but not a great one, and it left me wanting for a better racing, customising and tuning game. EA can do good things, as they produced the brilliant original “Underground”, which at the time was unbelievably good, the hugely entertaining “Most Wanted”, which I particularly liked, and the controversial “Pro Street”, which, I must confess, I really enjoyed as well despite the weird handling of the cars. “Shift” is easily the most mature in the franchise as it is a proper track racing and tuning game designed by real enthusiasts, with many cars, many upgrades, many unlockables, many trophies and many tracks. You basically spend the whole game experiencing the career of a pro racing driver, starting from scratch with minimal cash and amateur rides, such as Honda Civic’s and VW Golf’s, on small tracks, to becoming the ultimate pro racer earning millions in sponsorship, racing Pagani Zonda’s and Mclaren F1’s on the worlds most famous and difficult circuits, such as Laguna Seca, Spa and the terrifying Nordschleife. Now there is no story here, like previous NFS titles, and there is no street racing or having the free roam of a city to drive around in. It’s all track based. Here is where I assume the fan boys will pipe up, but if you don’t like the racing, upgrading, customising, tuning and blistering sensation of speed delivered by Shift, simply because it doesn’t have “free roam”, then you really need to ask yourself if you are a racing game fan at all.


What’s good?

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Well of course, it’s the racing. The racing is nothing unexpected to anyone that’s played racing games before, but the driving engine is really good, where you will genuinely feel the weight, down force and speed of your vehicle and feel it differ and change between classes and models of cars, and to what extent you tweak and tune them. The cars all handle really realistically but it wont slap you in the face with a giant hand of realism. The different types of vehicle will all feel very different, for example, an M3 BMW will feel tail happy and vastly different to a front wheel drive Ford Focus ST, which is different again to a four wheel drive Nissan GTR, all of which will feel different again the more turbos, nitrous injection or spoilers you add to your vehicle. All have varying gifts of speed or grip/handling until you break into the hugely expensive works converted cars that mesh the two in a ludicrous bundle of speed, cornering g-force and noise. Taking a highly tuned Corvette Z06 to a fairly tough track, like Spa, manages to be challenging yet rewarding, and exciting yet terrifying at the same time. You will have to get breaking distances, oversteer, understeer, cornering speed, everything correct or, generally, you will lose a lot. You will face many opponents in every race as well, up to 20 opponents, which are all intelligent enough to know where you are and have varying degrees of aggression and pace. They also have accidents on their own and are just as willing to fight it out with each other as well as you, giving the full on racing experience. There are varying forms of racing as well, as it will jump between all sorts of events, from your standard track race, time trials, one on one battles, drifting, manufacturer events (where everyone has the same car), race series, invitational events (where your given a car to compete with) and generally never lets the racing become stale. This, coupled to the blistering feel of speed and the full on attack on your ear drums by the sound, makes for one seriously exciting racing game.



There is huge satisfaction derived from your progression through the career mode. There’s something so fundamentally satisfying about starting a racing career with bog all money, buying a beat up car and turning into a full on apex kissing racing machine. This is exactly what you do here, and after a quick intro in a BMW and a few laps round Brands Hatch, you are given some cash and off you go. There are 4 tiers of events, upgrades and cars, each one, predictably, harder, better and faster respectively, but the rewards are higher. 4 tiers may not sound a lot but bare in mind that the tier 2 races, for example, consist of around 10 events, with around 6 to 10 races in each one. Plus I guarantee you, if it’s not set on “easy”, you will have at least 2 or 3 goes at each race before you claim the top podium, and probably a lot more at the higher tier championship events. Each tier of vehicles has around 10-15 vehicles in each list and every one can be customised and tuned to your exact racing style. You will unlock various upgrades, vinyl’s, and cars throughout the game and you will await with eagerness what each unlockable will do to your beloved vehicle. It rewards you for hanging on to a favourite vehicle and adopting a preferred driving style, but has just enough alternative events, such as a European or Japanese manufacturer only race series, in order to make sure you vary your cars and skills. The achievements don’t stop there either, as they have incorporated a point’s and stars reward system that gives you bonuses for the manner in which you overtake, your aggression or precision during the race and generally how well you did, rather than just what place you came. This of course unlocks further cars, upgrades and gives you further cash. There is so much money to win in this game so don’t think for a second you will ever be strapped for cash, or have difficulty buying a favourite vehicle. I only got half way through the tier 2 races, around a quarter of the way through the game, and my bank balance was already in the millions. For anyone that’s a fan of career based racing games will like a lot here.



The sensation of speed in this game is unbelievable. There’s one thing that EA have definitely cracked in this latest NFS title is the thrill of speed. It will feel fairly fast in the tier 1 cars, but as you progress through the different tiers of vehicles the faster they get, and when you hit the more complex tracks, it will blow your mind. Firstly, to truly experience this you have to drive in the perspective of the cock pit, and secondly put yourself in a car with maxed out stats on a tight fast track, such as the Nordschleife. There’s several cars that have a maxed out “speed” stat, like the Bugatti Veyron for example (but it cant go round corners), but the one that delivers the most mind blowing speed sensation is the Pagani Zonda R, simply because of its savagely rapid acceleration, cornering ability and ear bleeding engine note. You hit 6th gear in this V12 beast and the madness starts. The noise of your engine escalates to deafening levels, the roar of the wind as you car carves through it increases, the vibration of the your vehicle starts to become uncontrollable, your vision starts to blur, your palms start sweating, whatever horizon you were once pointing at has rushed to meet you and just before it gets too much and you contemplate pressing your unused trembling left finger hard into the break button, the racing line goes red and its time to slow down, or become one with the crash barrier. “Fast” doesn’t come close to describing what it’s like hitting top speed in a car with maxed out stats. It’s literally a perfect 50/50 blend of the ultimate thrill and sheer unadulterated terror.



The sound is ear scorching and brilliant. The game has little to no music whatsoever. What you get instead is a full on racing car related assault on your ear drums. From the cock pit view the tyres are going to scream in rubber burning agony through every corner you go round and on every straight the engine, especially in the larger engine faster vehicles, such as the Koeniggsegg CCX, is going to bellow, roar and shout in your face the entire time your finger is on the accelerator, and in a supercharged vehicle, such as a works converted Viper SRT10, the wine of the supercharger is relentless and ear piercing. It is without a doubt immersing to say the least and “Slightly Mad Studios” has done an awesome job in capturing and enhancing the attack on your ears whilst driving a highly tuned race car. Even in the menus you don’t get music just sounds of engines at full throttle as they flash past, and tyres at the very limit of a blow out. It’s atmospheric and tense and petrol heads will love it.



There is, of course, a load to customise and tune. The customising and upgrading of your car boils down to several menus, all of which are very obvious, very clear and really easy to access. Firstly, your upgrades: each vehicle has 3 levels of upgrades, which, through one way or another, will make your car faster, accelerate quicker, have more grip, etc. However there are lots and lots of them, and the more you upgrade an aspect of your car, i.e., suspension, gear box etc, the more you can fine tune/fiddle with it in the tuning options. Once you have applied all possible upgrades to your vehicle, you will then have the option of “works converting” your beloved car. You can’t do it to all vehicles, but if you’re struggling to decide which car will serve you best in an upcoming tier, it’s generally a good bet to buy the vehicles with a “W” next to them. (Just so it’s clear) You have to apply all conceivable upgrades to the car first, then it will give you the option of pressing “select” in the upgrades menu, and your car will receive a ludicrous but awesome body kit and have all its stats increased further, often maxed out. It’s very expensive, be warned: you will be spending in the region of $1,000,000, but you will have one seriously tuned, awesome looking and fast car as a result. You then have the visuals menu where you can add an eternal amount of paint jobs, around 50 different rims and lots of vinyl’s, none of which at any point you will have to pay for, so go nuts. The vinyl options are not anything more or better than previous NFS games but there is still enough to satisfy the customising junkies. If you cant be arsed to do your own vinyl’s there are 5 racing paint and vinyl jobs already set up for you, just pick your favourite free of charge. Finally there is the tuning menu where you can adjust tyre pressures, break callipers, suspension stiffness, gear ratios, downforce, the lot. All the menus are very accessible and simple as well so nothing will be overwhelming and all tuning options have a tutorial/description, encase your wondering what the hell camber angles do. For anyone who likes customising and tuning you can spend hours doing it here. It certainly doesn’t add anything that the NFS franchise hasn’t had before, other than the fine tuning, but they have just simplified and made everything easy to use and rewarding to do, when you get it right.



There’s lots of tracks and cars. NFS has gone all grown up with its tracks this time, as instead of racing randomly around an open city, you have actual race tracks such as Laguna Seca, Spa, Brands Hatch, Silverstone, the mighty Nordschleife and all sorts. Each one has been perfectly re-produced and has various colours and backgrounds enhanced to make them a bit more exciting and interesting to behold. There are 18 in total but each one has several smaller versions of the same track plus a few make believe ones such as a circuit through central London and Tokyo. There is a lot to get your head round and you will have to race a hell of a lot to master every one of them. For the cars, although there are some missing favourites/NFS classics which may put fans off slightly (more on that later), but you have to bare in mind that there is still 72 cars to be had here, and each one, especially the works converted or tier 4 cars will take a very long time to build up enough cash to purchase and fully upgrade. Admittedly around a third of these cars can’t be used in career mode, but cars are cars and it does have that many to be fair. The list is enough for any car fan.



The game is as “arcade like” or “driving sim like” as you want and will accommodate any racer of any skill level. The racing is a mixed bag to be honest, in terms of its handling and driving. But fortunately they have managed to be very broad with its appeal, as there is definitely a lot of interest here for the hard core racing and tuning fan, the sort of person who lies awake at night debating the stiffness of his rear suspension and length of his gear ratios, and the casual racer, the sort of chap who goes “which ones the accelerator pedal?”. You don’t have to know anything about cars to play this, unlike, of course, Gran Turismo, as you can set up traction control, steering, braking and tuning assists to help you or turn them all off completely, and become a pure racer. This will remind you though of just how far away you are from a real racing driver. For most it will lean mostly towards the arcade style of racing games as, although you can’t just sling vehicles into corners at any speed (like you can in Midnight Club: LA or previous NFS games), it is forgiving to an extent. It really depends on how hard core or easy you want it, and the game can provide all variations. Bare in mind it is still a long way off Gran Turismo and Forza though, even if you make it as realistic as it allows.



The drifting is really good fun, when you get it right. Slightly Mad Studios have got rid of the various forms of racing that previous NFS gamers may be used to, such as drag racing (but honestly you wont miss it), but drifting has survived. It has also been seriously revamped and made to be a lot more realistic and will feel vastly different to any drifting you may have done before. It is incredibly difficult (more on that in a bit) as you have to be spot on perfect with every aspect of steering, throttle, braking and angle but when you nail it is supremely satisfying and good fun. Plus after lots of practice you will start to get the hang of it. The cash rewards are huge as well considering it can take barely 2 minutes to do a drifting event.


What’s bad?

It’s far too easy to earn money. This game gives you way too much cash and points for your efforts so you very rarely have to do races again for the sake of funds or try too hard to buy a car you particularly want. You can get money, points and stars, for finishing last in some events! As a result there is little incentive to “go the extra mile” to gather enough funds to buy a favourite car, or the best car in the tier. Whenever you get to a new tier or event you will always easily have enough cash for the best car in the tier. For example, I had gained enough stars and unlocked all tiers of races when I had barely started the tier 3 races, which is only about half way through the whole game! Plus I had about $4,000,000 in the bank which can buy the most expensive car in the game twice over. You also get money when in “quick race” which is basically an arcade mode, so the opportunity to make ridiculous sums of cash is overly frequent. I think it should make you work slightly harder, do races more than once, ultimatley making it more satisfying when you do purchase that Mclaren F1, for example. To rub salt in this wound, EA have done this ridiculous thing where you can go online and use your credit or debit card to purchase in-game cash, encase your struggling. I find this so insulting, as who in the hell is going to be so awful, as if it is set on “easy” its really really easy, they don’t earn enough cash in this cash filled game, and stupid enough to use your real money when you have already used your cash to buy the sodding game in the first place! It’s such a pathetic extra money making scheme, showing EA’s money grabbers still have a say in quality games such as this. It’s very underhand and devious, and I don’t like it.



You can’t upgrade the tier 4 cars! It’s seriously disappointing to get as far in the game to warrant the unlocking of the tier 4 races and cars, and finally get enough money to buy a tier 4 car and the consequential upgrades, and, after relinquishing a good $1,000,000 for it, when you go to customise your ultimate ride this message flashes up: “There are no upgrades available for this car”. That’s right, you can’t improve the performance, you can’t add aerodynamic aids/body kits, you can fine tune them, but the options are pretty limited, and you generally can’t make your tier 4 car any better than it is already. You can change the paint job, but that’s where your customising will end. This annoys and disappoints me on several levels: Firstly, this game is predominantly about customising and tuning cars, the tier 4 cars being the ultimate goal (or at least your led to believe that), and they decide to take away that aspect for the most expensive, rewarding and fastest vehicles in the game. Secondly, the majority of the tier 4 cars’ stats, which you cant change/improve, will be worse than several works converted tier 2 and 3 cars. The Corvette, Viper, Nissan GTR, Murcielago, Skyline GTR, BMW M3, Mustang GT500, Mitsubishi Evo X, for example, are all more worthy of your cash, ultimately making the tier 4 cars worse but costing about the same. Thirdly, real life GT racing versions exist for nearly all the tier 4 cars available (with the exception of the Veyron, Reventon and Carrera GT), as I have seen them race with my own eyes, so it is not as if such racing paraphernalia are not applicable to these cars, they are just not applied. Fourthly and finally, you have to go through most of the f*****g game, having these machines as your goal, only then finding out that there is no point in buying them whatsoever, as they will be worse than cars you already own! It really feels like these cars are only in the game so EA can gloat about the car roster on the box and fool people into buying it for their love of the Bugatti Veyron, for example. Maybe I am in a minority, and most players wont care, but it really really f****d me off. They are still pretty fast, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just not the same and it doesn’t feel like it’s your car if you can’t tune and customize it. The Pagani Zonda R is worth buying (but it is the most expensive in the game at $1,200,000), as its stats are maxed out (top speed is not quite maxed out, but close enough) making it one of, if not, the best car in the game, but all the others have a flaw that makes them too tough to drive. This ranges from being incredibly fast but unable to go round corners and needs brake, suspension and aerodynamic upgrades, that you cant add (Veyron, Koeniggsegg), twitchy as hell and needs down force, that you cant add (Mclaren F1, Pagani Zonda F), or just comparatively not that good and needs all upgrades in general, which you cant add (Mercedes Mclaren 722 edition, Lamborghini Reventon, Lexus LF-A, Porsche Carrera GT). Other lower tiered vehicles have such flaws as well, sure, but the difference is you can tune and upgrade these cars to suit your driving style.



The customising is definitely a step back from previous NFS games. Despite the fact there is still a lot to customise it is noticeably not as detailed or as plentiful as previous games. For those that played Pro Street, you will easily notice the difference especially in terms of your cars vinyls and wheels, as there is considerably less choice on both fronts, and far less choice in terms of what you can customise about them. For example, most wheels will have a set size and if you fancy putting 20 inch rims of a wheel design on instead of 16 inches, then that’s tough luck. You can’t. There’s no more “auto sculpt” anymore, which sucks as I liked fiddling with your cars aerodynamics and visual appeal. The real kick up the arse for me is that there is no option to mirror your cars vinyl’s at all on different sides. This really wound me up as for anal people like myself that want symmetry on their vehicles racing colours, which I firmly believe is not unreasonable to expect, there is no option at all. How could “slightly mad studios” have missed this? It seems such an obvious, simple and vital part of an otherwise good customising system. The fools! Also, you don’t get full control of the view of your vehicle when adding vinyls. You can move the camera but it’s overly sensitive, quite limited and never really makes the view any better, making the necessary DIY vinyl symmetry even more of a pain in the arse. Another irritant, is that you have several options of pre-made racing vinyls that you can apply to your car, which is fine, but you can not make such paint schemes yourself at all, as you simply do not have enough options and resources. For example, you can’t change the colour or, in any way that’s worth it, the size of the manufacturer vinyls, where often the in-game paint jobs will have such vinyls of all different shapes and colours. Your often better off using the predetermined racing colours as you wont be able to make such paint jobs yourself. How hard would it have been for them to allow you to change the colour of the manufacturer vinyls? It’s really annoying. You also have to unlock the vinyl’s as you go but you wont have all of them unlocked until you have nearly completed the game, and its annoying when you want to add simple things such as numbers to your beloved vehicle, and you can’t. There’s a lot to unlock other than vinyl’s so I cant ascertain why they bothered with this in terms of incentive to play. It honestly feels like they have been doing the customising lark for NFS games for so long, that they are just bored of it now and can’t be arsed.



The car list is not as robust as previous NFS games either. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of high performance machines here to keep you interested, however it’s not as plentiful as “Undercover” or “Pro Street”, and there is some odd choices in what was introduced this time and what was discarded. There are noticeable missing favourites from the car list, such as the tuners favourite, the Toyota Supra, and all classic muscle cars are gone. No classic Charger, Stingray, GT500, Hemi Cuda or Chevelle at all I’m afraid. In fact the choice for muscle car fans is a bit thin on the whole. The only true muscle cars are the (modern day) Dodge Challenger, Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang GT500. To a lesser extent there is the Corvette Z06, Viper SRT10 and Ford GT but they are more firmly a member of the supercar family, and all have been around in NFS games for ages. There are some strange cars now introduced such as the original 1960’s Nissan Skyline 2000GTR, which, despite the fact it’s the worst car in the game, I don’t particularly have a problem with, but why at the cost of a way more awesome vehicle such as a Dodge Charger or Toyota Supra? Seems a strange choice to me. They also have several iterations of the same vehicle, for example, there are two versions of the new Nissan GTR and three versions of the BMW M3. Of course they have different variations of age, power, speed, etc, but they are not vastly different from each other. The only thing that really separates them is whether they can be works converted or not, but lets be honest, you really want to works convert all your cars anyway. Considering some of the missing NFS favourites, there doesn’t appear to be a particularly good case for the inclusion of some of these vehicles, especially the totally useless tier 4 cars. For those foolish enough to have played “NFS Undercover”, that one game’s perk was the awesome vehicle list, which is just not as good in Shift I’m afraid.



The drifting is really hard. It’s not all simply track racing in Shift as you can still do drift events, the only reprise from track racing mind. Although it is good when you get it right, and there is not many of them, the drifting events are really really tough. The same mechanics of the drifting will be vaguely familiar with NFS veterans, however they have made this a lot more realistic, and just like everything in real life, it’s much harder. The steering and throttle are so insanely delicate and if you put the tiniest amount of either in too much it will spin, instantly. Even going in straight line, even in 4th gear, it’s really tough to keep your vehicle from spinning, and if you are in a high powered vehicle, car control becomes impossible. Your line, angle and speed into the corner also have to spot on perfect or the entire remainder of the course is buggered. You simply cannot make even one mistake and it’s just far too hard to get it 100% perfect, and if it is not your in for a hug with the crash barrier. The tracks don’t help either as some of them are a ludicrous maze of chicanes, tyre walls and hair pin bends. It’s a lot more realistic, yes, but at the cost of having 20 goes at each event and it generally frustrating you into boredom makes you occasionally wish they had simply left this one out. The key is smoothness, throttle control and never ever using a powerful vehicle (seriously, don’t ever upgrade your drifter too much, you wont be able to handle it), despite how tempting it will often be. Fortunately, there are so many points, stars and rewards in general available elsewhere you can simply just not do them at all and still progress through the game just fine. That does kinda defeat the point though and, although it is satisfying despite the extreme difficulty, I did think it could have given you a bit more of an easier time with it.



Several cars are a bit too “twitchy”, “slidey” and “skiddy”. Apologies for using words that don’t exist but its quite frustrating trying to drive some of these cars. It seems like several vehicles, no matter how much you tune them or fiddle with their handling you can never really truly sort them completely. Several cars will still fling the back out wildly or understeer into a wall no matter what you do. The works converted BMW M3 is a good example of this, as it is ludicrously tail happy, constantly, and no matter how much downforce you add, how much you deflate your tyres or how much you stiffen the suspension it will still be a nightmare to drive. It literally feels like it’s constantly driving on sheet ice. Any tuning you do will be futile and furthermore, are works converted racing vehicles not supposed to eliminate such handling difficulty? Isn’t that the point of slick tyres and spoilers? Do you see the grid of the Japanese GT Championship or Le Mans sliding and skidding round every corner? In Shift’s defense this is what modern racing cars are like, as every conceivable tiny aspect has to be working in conjunction with every other part, otherwise it will simply spin off the track. It’s the difference between “Mclaren” and “Force India” in the Formula 1 world championship, but several cars will make your tuning efforts feel so futile. Most vehicles you will probably manage just fine and some feel very planted and predictable, such as the Mitsubishi Evo, Nissan GTR, Dodge SRT10 Viper and Audi R8, but quite a few will drive you mad. For example, the Subaru Impreza has the most appalling brakes and understeers like a b***h, no matter how much you tune it. The Corvette Z06, although one of the best cars in the game, will be ridiculously tail happy until you add loads of downforce, but it will seriously effect the top speed, and the Lamborghini Murcielago has a serious “twitchyness” problem, making it a real handful and tough to keep on bumpy track. Nothing you can tune on any of these cars is going to make much difference to its handling, whilst still being able to use it in a race. It is possibly down to my crapness at tuning, but I know a lot about cars and how they handle, and besides, I have spent hours tweaking and fine tuning every conceivable component for it to make no difference at all. HINT: whenever you works convert a car, don’t ever use the “quick tune” option for your car as it will seriously muck up it’s handling. Always use “detailed tuning”, press “L3” to switch everything to default settings and simply make small adjustments to these settings, if needed at all. On some vehicles, though, you are wasting your time.



There’s no where to practise. The tracks are so variable you really want some practise space before you race, to get used to the track, figure out its tricky corners, its breaking zones or, if you have just been fiddling with your cars set-up, to figure out if it’s all working in conjunction with each other or if it is now uncontrollable. But there is no option to do this. If you want to practise on a track you have to race on it, full on with all opponents, whether you like it or not. It’s kind of irritating especially when tweaking your cars set-up, as you are not really ready to race, that’s the whole point of experimenting with the handling of your vehicle. I fiddled with the stiffness of the suspension on my BMW M3 only to find out in the race that it was far too stiff and the car simply bounced off the track every time it went over bump. I would rather have found this out by practicing, not in a full on race. Shift does compensate for this by having a racing line on the track with breaking zones, and the fact that everything rewards you whether you suck or not, but I reckon having an option to do some warm up laps or something is not to much to ask.



You win cars throughout the career mode, but you can’t use them. Yet another bizarre decision in the way this game rewards you is that while going through your career you will, amongst other things, unlock several cars as prizes. These include a “Falken Mustang GT”, a “Le Mans Audi R8”, a racing “Porsche 911 GTS”, the BMW M3 GT (the car on the box), a “Maserati MC12 GT” and various other high powered exclusive vehicles that you would love to have at your disposal in the career mode. But, as a lot of things in this game, you simply can’t. You can use them in the “quick race” mode but that’s it. Why? Yet again, why would it have been so difficult to allow you the use of these cars in career mode? What’s stopping this? They would be of use to you in career mode. “Quick Race” does not really serve any purpose, other than winning some extra cash, and has nothing to do with the career mode, so why did they have to give you this limitation? What makes it worse is that you can’t works convert an Audi R8, Aston Martin DB9, Porsche 911 or the 2009 BMW M3 in career mode, so it rewards you with works converted versions of these cars that you can not convert or use in career mode. Why could they not allow you to simply works convert these cars in the sodding career mode, rather than rewarding you with something you can’t really use? It is utterly incomprehensible as to why they would do this, almost as though Slightly Mad Studios were being deliberately obtuse. Again, I may be in a minority here as you do get to race them, but I just reckon it’s yet another strange decision in this games production.



You can’t view your vehicle how you want too. This is admittedly a “nit pick”, but I don’t care as it still bugged me. You can’t control the view of your vehicles in your garage, or anywhere at all in fact. If you have just spent hours customising your car with awesome visuals, wheels and body kit etc and want to look at it, your only option is a weird tilted orbit of your vehicle, that shows it through various angles that don’t really show it that well. Why would it have been so difficult to allow you control of the camera view? Another odd decision.


Conclusion:

If you like cars, there is a lot to like here. There is loads of fast paced edge of your seat racing, loads of cars, loads of tuning, lots of customising, lots of tracks and it will deliver a seriously rewarding career mode for those who enjoy the thrill of turning road cars into snarling speed machines. The sound is an assault on the senses and it will deliver the most amazing thrill of speed you will have ever experienced. The game will also accommodate almost any driver of any experience and help you as often as you want it, or don’t want it to. It does a lot of things well, but rather expectantly it does things badly: the vinyls and cars are noticeably more limited than previous games, you cant mirror your vinyl’s, which really is proper stupid and annoying, the drifting borders to finely on “too hard to bother with”, there’s some odd decisions in the car line up, you cant upgrade or tune the best cars in the game (tier 4 cars), several cars are very “twitchy” and “slidey”, no matter how much you tune them and generally some really odd decisions and pointless thought processes that they really should have contemplated a lot more. As a whole though “Slightly Mad Studios” have done the most important parts very well and as a result, have made a really decent NFS game, but with a few cons that stop it being perfect. It will inevitably put off the hardcore fans, as there is no street racing or free roam aspects, but I certainly didn’t care, and I’m confident next years title will return to the streets, as that seems to be EA’s thinking at the moment, one on, one off etc. If you like cars and racing then this is a “must” for purchase at the moment. How does it stack up against the competition? There is not really a lot of competition to be honest, however, it easily better than any previous NFS game and much better than Midnight Club: LA, although they are much older games to be fair. Race Driver: Grid is really good, if slightly simplistic and short, and although Shift is very similar to Grid, it expands on a lot of areas that Grid doesn’t, I suppose, ultimately making it the best racing game available right now. At least until Gran Turismo 5 comes out, that is. CA.


Summary:


Is it user-friendly/easy to get into? – 8.0

Very easy and simple menus throughout. Will accommodate all drivers of all skill levels and technical knowledge. Will underline the joys of the career racing driver. Couple of unclear menu choices and missing customising options though.


Is the story any good? – 0.0

There isn’t one, but it doesn’t need it.


How does it look? – 9.0

Won’t exactly pop your eye balls with visual brilliance (but what racing game can?) but tracks and cars look really good, with lots of details.


How does it sound? – 10.0

No music, but a full on attack on your ears, through roaring engines and screaming tyres, without any SFX ever sounding poor. Any car enthusiast will fully appreciate.


Is it good to play? – 8.5

Exciting and seriously exhilarating. The sensation of speed is mind blowing. Lots to upgrade and customise, but less than previous games, you can’t touch the really fast metal (tier 4 cars) and several cars will be impossible to drive and un-tuneable.


When will I get bored? – 9.0

It gives you far too much reward for your efforts, but if you want to win all races and get all trophies then there’s a hell of a lot of racing here for you. The fact that you won’t have to however, kinda takes away the sense of achievement.


OVERALL – 9.0

Review created by C. Armstrong.

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