Need for Speed: Shift – Review

Do you like your driving games to meticulously recreate the art of motor racing? Or would you much rather indulge in a spot of vehicular carnage, ramming rivals off the road and the like? Can’t decide? Well now there’s no need, because NfS: Shift cannily caters to drivers of every disposition.

Resultantly the game comes off as a sort of simulation and arcade racer hybrid, yet is flexible enough to deliver the best of both worlds: the massive roster of licensed cars, highly polished graphics, and authenticity you’d expect from the former, but also the latter’s fun factor, aggressive driving, nitro-boosts and thrilling smash-ups.

Almost as if EA set out to eliminate both Real Racing and Asphalt 5 in one fell swoop.

The long running franchise’s eye candy is as sweet as ever, the lovingly rendered vehicles porn for petrol-heads, while the vibrant race circuits are a vast improvement on the gritty urban environments of the game’s predecessor, NFS: Underground. Honestly the screenshots don’t do Shift justice, as this beauty looks a whole lot better in motion.

The blistering action is best appreciated from the first-person, cockpit view; every shunt and knock an opponent deals you being given an added aspect of cool from this up close and personal perspective, as your windscreen cracks and eventually even shatters. And it’s this level of attention to minute aesthetic detail that allows Shift to feel like an authentic racing experience without sacrificing fun for overly banal realism.

Making great use of the accelerometer, flawless tilt controls (the best since the seminal Real Racing) steer your car, touching anywhere on the screen slams on the brakes, while boosting is executed by tapping an icon located on the bottom right. It’s an intuitive set-up, and means rather than worrying about the basics (acceleration, gear changes etc), you get to focus on the challenges each race throws at you.

Which is not to say you’re forced down a set path. Far from it, Shift‘s career mode allows a remarkable amount of freedom. Events can be tackled at your own pace and using your preferred style of driving. Points, badges and cash are awarded regardless of how you choose to tackle the game; so whether you like to play it safe, sticking rigidly to the race line and overtaking without getting a scratch on your shiny new car, or if you opt for a more aggressive approach, you’ll advance your career either way.

Prize money can be spent on upgrading your ride, or indeed purchasing more from the selection of twenty of the hottest cars in existence. Once you’re done tinkering around in the garage, it’s time to test your skills against some real-life rivals, as Shift offers a great choice of multiplayer modes, such as bluetooth battles and online tournaments. These adding further longevity and replayability to an already fully featured racer.

iFanzine Verdict: Making it seem effortless, EA leave the rest in their dust and take pole position in the fiercely fought competition to deliver the definitive iDevice racer.

10 out of 10