Need For Speed SHIFT
Not Gran Turismo but its not too shabby!
Posted 3 years ago By - Jay Acevedo
I was perplexed at what EA Bright Light could do in a portable version of Need For Speed Shift. After the highly critical success of the console version, expectations for the PSP version were not incredibly high but not lower either. I mean, I know what a PSP game based on the Need For Speed franchise is about. However, with Gran Turismo delivering the goods but missing on a few areas and DiRT 2 being a disappointment, my curiosity got me working.
Good news is that NFS Shift does things well. It would a huge mistake for some to expect or even compare this portable version to its console cousin. PSP versions of Need For Speed have always been about arcade-type races, with objectives to complete race after race at high speeds, completely disregarding what your opponents are trying to do. While you can let yourself loose in the Arcade, Need For Speed Shift offers a career mode called World Tour, which is built around challenges and objectives that you need to complete in order to go from rag to riches.
Whether is simple races, elimination or drift challenges, your final score will be established depending on how well you performed. The highest the score, the more money you will get to buy new cars. The World Tour mode is divided into six sections; each has its own expert driver at the end you need to beat in order to progress. By doing so, you will also win their car. So far, there’s nothing too different from the usual NFS mumbo-jumbo.
One of things that need to point out is how easy the game is…until you get stuck. You start your career with a Scirocco and you can almost win every race with it, with no real need to switch cars. Now, when you hit the wall, especially at the end of each career section, you will need to find the best car for the job. Having to use the same car has an advantage, the more you win with the car, the game rewards you with Loyalty Points that can be use to buy more parts and modifications for your car.
Awkwardly, this is not the main issue why your career will stagnate. It feels like the difficulty was increased on purpose during a certain point of your career (sometime after you enter the drifting challenges). It’s feasible but it becomes incredibly frustrating when the specific amount of points to beat the challenge is needed and you can’t coup it after a lot of tries. I can’t really pinpoint if it’s a matter of cheap difficulty increase or the drifting mechanics been off. It may even be a mix of the two.
The other thing that doesn’t make quite sense its how the cars do not necessarily represent what they really are. There are cars that are more aquatinted for drifting, those who are specifically designed for straight line races and the rest who have balanced attributes. Here, if you want to drift for instance, you can grab any car even though you are not supposed to and still manage to win. The game may feature a good roster of cars but they do not feel that different…so in the end, its not about which car you need to proceed, its more about trial and error racing until you get it right. Luckily, the controls are solid. The last thing I would have wanted is a DiRT 2-like experience...
It’s too bad that these two things hamper the game because it really sucks you in. It has a purpose, an incentive to play it through and try to advance.
Graphics & Audio
The cars models look good but nothing to write to your mother about. The game lets you apply paint jobs ton them in order to make them stand out a bit more. We’re far from the incredible car renders of Gran Turismo but it does a solid job at remaining an eye-popping game. The environments are great but there’s not a lot of variety in terms of race tracks. You do race in different cities but after a while, you won’t even take the time to see on which track you will be racing. The aforementioned sense of speed gobs all your attention too so in this case, only a few players will be bothered by this.
Lastly, it’s almost too bad that the damage your car suffers after you crash (it returns to normal after the crash sequence ends) doesn’t stay. It would have certainly been great.
In terms of audio, the environmental sounds are discreet, even the car engines. However, after being uttered to hear the lawnmower engine sounds of DiRT 2, I was relieved to see that EA Bright Light decided to tone it down a little. The soundtrack, just like in any other NFS game, is varied and quite interesting to listen to. The game has a default custom soundtrack option available right from the beginning so if you have your very own selection of music tracks, you can listen to them while you play.
Whether it’s a career mode that will drive you nuts, quick races against the A.I and even an ad-hoc system for online racing with your friends, NFS Shift will last you long enough and will give enough bangs to your buck. It’s clear that the game does things differently without necessarily re-inventing the genre and remains true to its own roots as a fast paced racer and a fun game to play.
If you are a huge racer nut, this game might come in second place behind Gran Turismo but it deserves a good look either way. Especially when SHIFT does something Sony’s flagship title doesn’t: giving you the feeling that you are actually going somewhere. Not just unlocking cars for the thrill of it.
Although the game carries the name SHIFT, don’t expect a faithful simulation replica of the console version. I would have loved to see this game being renamed just like the upcoming Wii version (known as NFS Nitro) just to show people that it’s actually based on the previous work done in the past NFS PSP titles and not a reboot of the franchise on the PSP. While it’s not your perfect racer, it packs enough punch to entertain you at a reasonable price. Now, if you have played Gran Turismo, you might see it as a huge backward step but let’s be reasonable here…EA Bright Light didn’t took five years to develop this one.
+ Solid controls
+ Local and Online play supported
+ Game soundtrack is varied, custom soundtrack also supported
+ Possibility to customize your car appearance
- Cars do not represent their attributes
- Race tracks lack variety (only 15)
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Release Date : 2009/09/15
System : PSP
Publisher : EA Games
Developer : EA Bright Light
Category : Racing
ESRB : E
7.0 / 10
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8.7 / 10