Need for Speed: Shift was released last Thursday everywhere in the world and today we can finally show you some direct feed footage. As the first 10 minutes of the game may not be really interesting to watch, we have decided to show you different races with different cars so you can get an idea of the game's content. We'll start with a ride behind the wheel of the Lotus Elise on the Nürburgring track. Update: Last video is up, with some reckless driving on my part in the beginning.
Developped by Slightly Mad Studios, this new game in the Need for Speed franchise definitely breaks up with the series' traditional vision of racing. Forget player-friendly cars that are easy to control, Shift wants you to learn to master your vehicle before can really enjoy it to its full potential.
Players have had mixed feelings about Shift since it was released, some being disappointed with the handling of the cars, others wondering if some reviews had been biased somehow. Hopefully, for those who tried to grasp the way the game was meant to be played, it soon became clear that they could have a lot of fun with this game. Shift's controls are a lot deeper than it seems at first but you need a bit of time to realize that it's certainly more of a sim racers than you'd initially think. No matter what people think, one thing is sure, no one is left indifferent when playing EA's latest racing game.
The great thing about Shift is that every car feels different: it is for example quite easy to drive a Lotus Elise but, when you first get your hands on a Ford GT or an Aston Martin, things get a lot trickier and you have to be careful not to accelerate too strongly in curves. Also, touching the curb can have more or less serious consequences depending on the car you drive. You can upgrade your vehicle to improve its performances and you can obviously tune it to your liking: there is a quick tuning option for those who simply want to change a few settings but you can also use the advanced tuning menu where even the tire pressure can be tweaked. So if you blame some of the cars for drifting too much when they shouldn't, you can manage to do what's necessary to "fix" it. There will always be some cars that will keep drifting a bit in normal races but you can learn to master it quickly enough and, in no time, you'll even have fun with it.
The number of cars available can't compete with the likes of Forza Motorsport 3 and Gran Turismo 5 but there are enough of them to make everyone happy. And again, the only fact that each of them handles differently makes the game interesting and it'll have you come back for more. One of the greatest features of the game is the incredible cockpit view: it's so dynamic and thrilling that you really feel you're in the driver's seat. On top of that, the engines sounds amazing, enhancing the impression that you're actually driving a real racing car and with the sense of speed you get from the game, I promise you get all the tension and stress you'd expect in such circumstances.
It doesn't mean the game is perfect, far from it. The first issue I have is with the frustrating AI. The development team probably tried to give the other pilots some kind of driving personality so they do not all act in the same way but I have more than once yelled at them because they either bumped into me or braked so hard all of a sudden that it was impossible to avoid collision. The silver lining is that they can make driving mistakes on their own, which adds a bit of realism to the races. The loading times are also a big problem to me: even when installing the game on your hard drive you still have to wait more than 30 seconds to start racing. Graphically, the game may not be the best-looking racer out there but the visual effects do add a lot to the feeling of immersion. There is just some occasional pop-up sometimes - in the rear-view mirror for example - but you won't pay attention when driving if you don't want to crash in the next corner.
As you probably understood, I definitely think Shift is worth a try, even if you have to wait for the promised demo that should soon be available on Xbox Live and PSN. One last thing, I played with the Microsoft wheel in the medium difficulty setting and I only kept the racing line and the Anti-lock Brakes on. The handling model I'm using in the video is the pro one. Enjoy the footage, more to come later!