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By Chris Roper
EA's Need for Speed franchise has had its up và downs. Unfortunately, the past few years has been one of those "down" bits, with the last couple games doing nothing lớn advance the series in any way that you would hotline good. So, something had to lớn be done, & EA decided to h& off the reins to lớn Slightly Mad Studios, the folks behind the PC racing series GTR, khổng lồ create Need for Speed Shift. So did the changing of the guard pay off?

Oh, yes it did, & in a huge way. There are so many things done right in terms of kiến thiết that this feels lượt thích the freshest take on the "simulation" racing genre in many, many years. I put the word "simulation" in quotes because while Need for Speed Shift is undoubtedly closer lớn that kết thúc of the racing spectrum than, say, Burnout, Slightly Mad made some very smart choices in deciding what would be realistic và what wouldn't. The result is that the team is essentially giving you a racing experience that is extremely cthảm bại khổng lồ the real thing in terms of presentation, while keeping the controls just arcadey enough lớn allow relative sầu newcomers a much easier entryway into lớn the game than the likes of Gran Turismo.

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Let me step bachồng a little bit before delving into the racing experience. NFS Shift returns to the track-based racing of old (& ProStreet) rather than the open-world stuff seen in most of the modern titles. You'll find mainstays like Laguna Seca, Willow Springs & Nurbergring as the backdrops khổng lồ your tire burning, and each of these are brought to life excellently. They're not 100% accurate compared lớn their real-world counterparts however as Slightly Mad has tweaked the scenery khổng lồ provide more compelling views in spots that were a little drab, but the course layouts are indeed intact, which is what's important. Given the course selection in the game (totalling somewhere around the 20 traông chồng mark), it's of little surprise that practically every meter of road in the game is fun khổng lồ drive sầu. Unlượt thích pretty much every modern day Need for Speed title, there's zero story involved, and I'm very happy about that. The closest thing you're going lớn get khổng lồ some sort of tale is the voiceover that you'll hear at the start of the game, telling you that you've been given a chance lớn prove yourself in a BMW M3 around Brands Hatch before winning some cash và choosing your own ride. After that, the voice only returns khổng lồ explain new events & the lượt thích, but never khổng lồ tell you that the cops are on your tail or that your love sầu interest can introduce you to lớn some jackass in a garage. Nope, this pretty much as pure of a racing game as you can find, and I for one am very thankful for that. That's not lớn say that the experience is drab. On the contrary, there's fantastic & somewhat atmospheric music in the menus, a generally slichồng interface all around & some stylistically edited videos to introduce new events. It's the sort of stuff that will keep your blood pumping between events without getting in the way.


All of that is great, but pales in comparison khổng lồ what happens when you get behind the wheel of a oto. And let me just say that you should get behind the wheel and not race from a third-person camera because the cockpit view is what makes NFS Shift stvà out from the extremely competitive sầu racing genre và come inkhổng lồ its own. Slightly Mad has created an extraordinarily good cockpit view for the game, one that makes you feel like you're actually in the seat of a horsepower-bleeding supercar. Rather than remaining static, the view shifts và undulates slightly when the gas or brakes are applied. Sitting at the starting line & revving the engine can rochồng the vehicle back và forth, and slamming on the brakes khổng lồ take a tight corner will throw your view forward towards the dashboard. It's a dynamic camera that moves to impart the inertia and g-forces that you'd feel while racing. Fortunately, it's not overdone khổng lồ the point where it'll make you sick; it's subtle enough that you know that it's happening, but may forget about it after a while. But, go inkhổng lồ the same view in most any other racer and you'll realize what you're missing. Perhaps the coolest bits come when you crash as your view is tossed around, the colors fade out (và then baông xã in as you recover) và your vision blurs. Again, it's not done to the point that it'll make you vomit all over your controller, but it does a very good job to lớn let you know that you've sầu just totaled a $200,000 autoSmartphone. This exceptional cockpit view extends to the game's sense of tốc độ. When you're doing 150mph, you know it. When you're doing 200+mph, you'll get scared. More than pretty much any other racing game I've ever played (và I've played a lot), NFS Shift makes you respect speed. When you get into lớn the later races in the game and get behind the wheel of a Zondomain authority R, Bugatti Veyron or Koenigseggisseggggntekkenbasara.mobiigsegigisegggg CCX, you will actually consider taking your foot (or finger) off the gas in a slight bover because you can feel the oto start to get loose. Slight undulations in the road that were previously unfelt will cause your car to thua trận traction for a split-second, which is enough to lớn send it into lớn the wall. It's a startling feeling, one that's rare in racing games & one of the biggest elements that separates real driving from its virtual counterpart. You still don't get the feeling of fearing for your life, but I'm pretty sure that's a good thing.


The brilliant part here, và this goes baông chồng to what I had mentioned about Slightly Mad doing a fantastic job of deciding which elements of the game to lớn make more realistic vs. arcadey, is that while you'll feel lượt thích you're out of control, you actually have a lot of control over your car at all times. The game's driving mechanics are at the same time very forgiving while also rewarding khổng lồ those who respect tốc độ và each car's limits. The line between being in or out of control is way closer khổng lồ your car's limits than it would be in a more hardcore simulation racer, which allows you khổng lồ push your rides further than you would otherwise be able lớn vày without needing an excessive sầu amount of skill. But, khổng lồ get those last few horses lớn work for you, you'll still need to really dial in your abilities. So the over result is that it's easier for newcomers to lớn be able to lớn push their vehicles, but there's still that element of needing lớn practice & hone your skills khổng lồ be very good. Fantastic stuff in this department, khổng lồ be sure. So the driving mechanics & sense of speed are fantastic, but let me now get inlớn the sound because it is awesome. A lot of other racers have great engine samples, nice crashing effects và so forth, but very, very few actually get the mix of all of this correct. If you're driving around town in your day-to-day car và brake a little late inlớn a turn or push your tachometer a little high before disengaging the clutch then you might get some nice tire squeals. Those squeals, however, are nothing lượt thích what you hear at a track, especially when you're inside of a superoto. Those squeals sound like the rubber is alive sầu và being torn from the axel while also being burning alive sầu. It's a raw sound that is not unlượt thích what war in Hell would sound like were it taking place underneath your car, & pretty much no racing game on the market conveys this correctly. Need for Speed Shift actually does, & it's music to the ears. Or, actually it's extremely grating, but that's the point. If you have sầu your volume up lớn the appropriate cấp độ (past where the physical dial tries to you let you turn it) then you will get a deafening introduction to lớn what these engines sound lượt thích when there are only inches of steel, cloth and/or leather between you & 600+ horsepower in the bachồng seat. I'm sure there will be some people out there who buy this game & think that the sound isn't as good as their grandmother's racer, but they're dead wrong. This is how it should be done. Oh, và as a nice "we want you to lớn hear the cars" nod, the music is turned off by default in races. Thank you.


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Now, as I previously mentioned, Need for Speed Shift isn't the most accurate racer around. I have driven a few of the cars in the game và the handling, feeling of weight and all that just isn't as accurate as what you'll find in the likes of Forza or Gran Turismo. It's not bad by any stretch of the meaning, but it isn't accurate. However, in this case, I don't care nearly as much as I would in other simulation-slanted racers. The driving experience is so cthua thảm khổng lồ the real thing that I can't bring myself lớn nit-picking over the finer details of how the Civic Si in the game does not feel lượt thích the same car I drive sầu to work every day. The feeling of weight might be off, but if I were to lớn take it up to 150mph at Lagumãng cầu Seca, I'm pretty damn sure this is exactly what it would look & sound like, which is exactly what Slightly Mad was going after. One area that I didn't like in terms of the driving mechanics, however, is with the drift events. Here, the physics simulation feels completely different, and punching the gas will cause your oto to spin out even at the starting line. Vehicles are phối up lớn be extremely slippery and it's your job lớn be careful & caress them through the corners. I found it to be extremely difficult khổng lồ keep my car in kiểm tra, often oversteering way, way too much even though I barely had my finger on the gas. I would have sầu greatly preferred to have tackled this the other way around, where you need khổng lồ work to get your oto inkhổng lồ a spin và over-rev in order to lớn keep the tail out rather than having the game try to lớn make you spin out & have you fight to keep the oto in check. Fortunately, the career mode is mix up in such a way that you can skip these without much of an issue.


The career mode is set up in a rather brilliant fashion in that it rewards you for doing pretty much anything. You'll earn stars for your finishing place in events, meeting point requirements while racing và completing a special per-sự kiện goal (lượt thích mastering all of the corners). These stars accumulate over your career and are what unlochồng the successive sầu tiers in the game (i.e. harder events & better cars). You'll also earn protệp tin points, which are sort of lượt thích the Kudos that you would earn in the PGR games, except that they're awarded for much more than just showboating. Stiông xã to lớn the racing line and you'll get points. Take a corner well and you get points. Drafting gets you points. Overtaking a car gets you points. Slamming inkhổng lồ a oto gets you points... You get the idea. Basically, you can just race và completely tekkenbasara.mobiore the scoring system and you'll raông xã up a ton of profile points regardless of how you approach the game. While stars earn you more events lớn race in và new cars to buy, profile points net you things lượt thích additional parts for your cars, bonus cash and even free cars from time to time. The result of this is that regardless of where you place in an sự kiện, you'll have earned something. This is a very good thing in that it keeps you going even when you know that you're going to thất bại. One cool extension of this is that it applies khổng lồ both online and offline racing. You rack up the same bank tài khoản and points total regardless of what you're doing, so you can help advance your career while playing online, which is obviously nice.


The career mode isn't perfect, though. One problem is that there are only 60-some-odd cars in the game, so it's not really a collector's dream. The selection here is great though, so you'll definitely find stuff you like. However, there's a fairly distinct "best" oto in each class, & assuming you have the money when you unloông chồng a new class, buying that oto pretty much negates the need to lớn ever buy the others. You can tăng cấp & tweak any oto in the game to stay competitive sầu, though why would you buy an Aston Martin V8 Vantage when a Corvette Z06 becomes available at the same time và absolutely trounces it? Obviously there's a cost difference, though as I played through the career mode, I never had an issue with cash. It would sometimes be cthua, but I always had enough money lớn buy the best car in a new class that I never had to khuyễn mãi giảm giá with second-best & tăng cấp later. Granted, I didn't spover a whole lot of money on upgrades (which can get costly) because I was doing well enough with the stock models, but still, I didn't exactly spkết thúc much time at the dealership. Fortunately, the game does phối things up quite a bit for you in that there are specialized events where you're given a specific car (or a choice of only a couple) to lớn drive sầu, so while you might not ever purchase a 350Z, you'll drive one a few times in events that feature it. I vày lượt thích this element quite a bit, though again, I wish that I had khổng lồ spover more time managing my stable of vehicles, slowly upgrading them over time & then finally purchasing a better car và reaping the benefits. In this respect, Gran Turismo this is not. This sort of leads me to my own subjective sầu view of the career mode in that it feels more "checklist-y" than I would lượt thích. I'm sure a lot of people will be fine with the phối up, but for me I found that I never really went bachồng to lớn complete earlier races & always just kept going forward - I was simply working through all of the available events until I had completed them all with a decent number of stars. There aren't really events that require that you own specific cars (since car-specific events give you the appropriate ride), so you won't really go bachồng down a class to compete in an sự kiện that you finally bought or earned a qualifying oto for.


So again, the career mode feels more like I'm going through a "to do" menu in a mostly linear order (though you always have sầu a lot of events you can choose from) rather than hopping around, trying out different stuff & building up my stable of cars. Again though, I'm sure a lot of folks will find this perfectly acceptable, & maybe even preferable to lớn a more open-ended cài đặt, though it was certainly worth mentioning as I'm sure I won't be alone. The last thing that I want to lớn mention before wrapping this up is that while the online mode for the game doesn't offer a huge number of options, it's really fun. There's a basic Quiông chồng Race option (both ranked & unranked) which is pretty much exactly what you'd expect. But then you have a Driver Duel mode, which plays out sort of lượt thích a King of the Hill match. There are a handful of levels in the ladder that you're trying khổng lồ climb, & you start at the bottom faced off against another racer at the same level. You'll both be in the same car (which is randomly chosen for you), và the car and traông chồng match the cấp độ that you're on. So on the first màn chơi, you'll be in pokey rides on easy tracks, while at the top you'll be in supercars on the most technical courses. The interesting thing here is that if you lose, you go all the way bachồng down lớn the bottom. It's fun và fast-paced enough lớn keep you going for a good while.


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