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Need for Speed: SHIFT

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You think you can slam into an embankment at 90mph with no penalty, Slick? Not with the new concussion elements. Jarring collisions not only damage a vehicle’s performance, but also cause a temporary disturbance in your vision. It’s subtle, leaving your eyes momentarily blurred and ears ringing as if hit by an automotive flash grenade, but the effect is undeniably cool in creating a varied and recoverable visual disruption.

Also new to the series is an optional guide line, a la Forza 2, to see you through the hard turns. It’ll glow red to tell you to slow the hell down, green if it’s steady as she goes, and blue to suggest a tad more velocity. SHIFT’s newfound focus of speed over style could (and should) come as quite a surprise to NFS fans, but the developers were quick to distinguish it from elliptical car porn like Gran Turismo. Rubber banding AI is generally the product of the spotlight shone more heavily on licensed cars, but they’re not the star here. You are. And it was great to see computer opponents react to specific course events with dynamic independence while taking visible performance damage. NPCs (yes, the term works) can even form a grudge pattern against you. Not only will they adjust to your techniques… they’ll seek you out and hit you back!

Of course, licensed cars are a given - this is a NFS, after all. But they’ve been given an attention to detail beyond that of just handling and acceleration. While in cockpit view, vehicle’s interiors are modeled as authentically as the outside, and a thorough customization mode is definitely in the cards. Plus, all the gauges unique to each make and model, eliminate the need for a traditional HUD.


Above: Just like a real Porsche, sans the central AC

Most of our time on the track was behind the wheel of a more than capable Audi RS4 and Corvette Z06, but taking the reins of a Zonda proved to be a different experience altogether. Luckily, the official Brands Hatch track compensated by tailoring itself for a course more suited to the unbridled speeds found in an F1 experience.

This is all being brought to you by Black Box and the folks behind the critically lauded GTR series; so clearly, these are people that know their business. But we were assured that SHIFT will strive to avoid the more burdensome trappings of other racing sims. How do you remove the grind? Well, by offering the player goals other than coming in 1st place. And while we weren’t given specifics as to what these milestone incentives would be, the prospect of a racing game that doesn’t make us restart after one mulligan is enough to get our attention.

Maybe we would’ve gotten upset about SHIFT’s abandonment of everything in NFS: Undercover, but we got too distracted by the glitz of Need For Speed’s most significant update in years reflected off our hood. Fear not, series fans. Need for Speed: SHIFT is looking damn fine, and still has plenty of room to grow before it’s released this fall.

Mar 4, 2009

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42 comments

  • Godstrike3020 - April 19, 2009 2:37 a.m.

    No cops it sucks already
  • Cobra_Fangs - April 17, 2009 10:10 p.m.

    They shounld'nt make another one like prostreet. I like the ones like underground, carbon, and undercover.
  • Admiralv - April 5, 2009 5:17 p.m.

    I started playing the nfs series on the PC with High Stakes, Porsche Unleashed, and Hot Pursuit 2, with PU being my favorite by far. It had just the right mix of realism and authenticity while keeping some of the arcade elements to keep it fun. I've had varying degrees of satisfaction with the games that came after that (didn't really like the fast and furious style shift it took). I hope this one turns out to have that similar blend of realism(which i personally find fun, but hey) and just plain arcade fun that keeps it from being too frustrating.
  • jojimukumura - March 30, 2009 8:32 p.m.

    I can't deny that it looks good, but I just dont think its a good choice on their part. Considering the first thing i thought of when I saw this was GRID and not NFS they should reconsider thier course on games. In my personal opinion they should stick to storylines like Most Wanted and abilities to tweek your ride like in Underground 2 and then some. And one bit of beef I have with game makers nowdays, were the hell are the old school Civics? First and second gen CRXes are used a lot in Street racing and we never have seen them in a NFS. Ive seen them in Tokyo Extrem games and thats it. Plus, they only had an older Civic hatch in NFS:Prostreet and that game wasnt on the top of anyones "A" list for playability. Just for reference, if anyone from "EA" or anyone else who wants more tips on what gamers want in a racing game, so they can reclame their place as the race game kings then just email me at jojimukumura@yahoo.com and we'll talk.
  • Savannah1994 - March 13, 2009 7:03 p.m.

    I liked carbon , hopefully this is better..
  • MdubG - March 11, 2009 3:55 a.m.

    the first NFS title i played was HP2 for gamecube it was fun now i went from most wanted, carbon, prostreet and undercover...honestly despite all the negative attention prostreet has gotten i think it is a great game i also have grid...which from the LOOKS, i think SHIFT is borrowing from it...and the gameplay might actually lean to the style of grid as well...we'll just have to wait and see
  • goranmax - March 8, 2009 6:50 p.m.

    And I hope there will be replay.
  • clarkandblakemovies - March 8, 2009 5:46 p.m.

    PS360 lol
  • m3ntalist86 - March 8, 2009 10:38 a.m.

    dont they mean need 4 speed:shit...lol they need these graphics combined with street gameplay...this jus looks too pro street..
  • iKOemos - March 7, 2009 8:58 p.m.

    I was disappointed by the last 2 Need for Speeds, but I've got high hopes for this one.
  • danporter2k8 - March 6, 2009 2:45 p.m.

    looks proper good but yeah they do need more games like need for speed underground. the street racing seems better, modifiable cars to work on. still, looks amazing!
  • Octaviux - March 6, 2009 12:51 a.m.

    looks Good I'm excited
  • darthpat - March 5, 2009 8:29 p.m.

    hahaha im not actually calling him a racist its a joke from the podcast he made a comment like "its one filthy race even the biggest bigot can get behind"
  • Sebastian16 - March 5, 2009 4:35 a.m.

    I'm pissed, I don't buy racing games to get a "real world experience", I buy them so I can get a cool car, trick it out to my taste, race it at unrealistic speeds and pull off all kinds of crazy shit. That's what NFS has been about, and that's why I enjoy the games. It's like if Infinity Ward decides that their next CoD game will be a 3rd person shooter with elements similar to Operation Flashpoint. DUMB!
  • Synster - March 4, 2009 11:43 p.m.

    Yeah. From these Screens alone, and the Drivers seat view. This is reminding me a lot of GRID. Which really? Codemasters has that down pretty solid by now. I personally think Need for speed should go back to the roots of Underground or Most Wanted( The two best In my opinion. ), but expand on it by giving you the Drivers view. The collision effects. Everything here. But in an Underground/Most Wanted style. Now it's like Need for Speed has little to no Customization, and No. Not Chassis work. That's just Dumb and you save it for last. I mean Most Wanted style, Super Chargers, Air Intakes, V8 Egines. The whole damn lot of it.
  • darthpat - March 4, 2009 10:15 p.m.

    chris is SUCH a racist
  • CoD_22 - March 4, 2009 10:03 p.m.

    wouldnt it be great to have a free roaming, mmo online type nfs? that would be awesome, you'd get clans going round smashing up everyones cars it would be unbelievably fun. and is it just me that randomly starts going round in circles on forza if i drive in a straight line? i hope not
  • Ramen_Soup - March 4, 2009 8:09 p.m.

    This is the first time I ever looked at a racing game and said I want it. This looks bananas.
  • sixboxes - March 4, 2009 7:05 p.m.

    All those visual touches meant to create that sense of immersion sound sick... but is it going to make gameplay trickier, or will they compensate for that? Right now it sounds like one is going to come at the expense of the other, but like the article said, it IS pretty early on in development.
  • Prospero - March 4, 2009 6:08 p.m.

    Well Most Wanted was good, But to be honest they really need a radical departure from that formula, just nothing like prostreet please.

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