Slightly Mad Studios
Need for Speed has come a long ways since its introduction back in the PS1 days. There have been many games since, 13 titles total, and many of them have a distinct theme or style. When Underground came out, the series really spun into popularity.
It wasn’t until Pro Street came out that people started looking down at the series because the game returned to it’s more realistic racing roots. Gone were the storylines and open-world cruising. The iteration, Undercover, went back to the open world racing and whatnot of Need for Speeds before it because of the critical negativity Pro Street received.
But this review isn’t about those games, this one is about the newest addition to the franchise, SHIFT. Apparently, SHIFT was supposed to have been a sequel to Pro Street originally, but due to the game’s previously mentioned less-than-stellar critic reviews, the name was dropped and SHIFT took its placed.
This is their first title that delves into the simulation aspects of the racing genre, leaving the arcade style of racing behind. Overall, this was definitely a good decision, as the game is more suited for my tastes. It’s not without its problems, though, as I will get more into detail from here.
Visually, the game looks amazing. It may not be the best looking, but it’s definitely up there! The cars are very detailed and the lighting just pops out at you. Sense of depth is very good as well and the motion blur you get as you’re speeding down a straightaway at 130+MPH really gives you a sense of speed (though, driving that fast in real life doesn’t result in that effect, but it still looks cool).
As you’ve seen from many trailers in the past, the cockpit view is superb. It really gives you a connection to the car and effectively makes it an extension of you. What’s really cool is when you do cockpit upgrades, you can actually see the roll cage and whatnot in there as well. Since it’s dynamic, the view responds to your acceleration, turning and braking so you feel like you’re actually driving it.
When you get in a wreck (and a lot of us almost definitely will), your helmet will shake violently and gray out the screen. When your senses come to, you can see the cracks in the glass and the damage done to your front end, both obstructing your view. There were moments for me when it got bad enough that I had to switch to an external view! The game also allows flipping over, so you can either cause, or be involved, in a spectacular wreck with a car flipping wildly on the road.
The tracks, a lot of them actual racetracks, are highly detailed and feel very much alive, with onlookers watching the races and photographing you as you pass by. If you’re inclined to do so, you can go ahead and snap photos of your car yourself! Some of the tracks have been modified in the backdrop slightly, so they aren’t 100% faithful reproductions of the tracks themselves, but the layouts are the same.
The visuals aren’t without their flaws, though. Occasionally, so much will be happening at once that the frame rate can drop to a very noticeable chugging. It’s not that frequent, but it is a nuisance when it does happen. The rear view mirrors also hold a few issues, as you watch your opponent behind you, you will notice a lot of pop-out in the background as things like signs and overpasses disappear. I mean, it’s not a huge deal, as you’ll be paying more attention to what’s in front of you. There is also some occasional pop-in as well, usually with billboards that feature in-game ads, but its not noticeable, as I’ve only actually seen that happen to me once.