PS3 Previews: Need for Speed: SHIFT Preview

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Need for Speed: SHIFT Preview

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Scheduled release date:

September 22nd, 2009


Electronic Arts


Slightly Mad Studios

Number Of Players:

1 (2-8 Online)



I've long been a die-hard Need for Speed fan. I won't bore you with the details, but I will say this: I've been following the series since the very first game debuted with the enhanced PC port Need for Speed: Special Edition. It's been well over a decade since the arrival of the franchise, and it has remained one of my favorites, despite some of its lows. Even though Black Box released a technically flawed product with NFS: Undercover, they rectified the situation by issuing a patch in February that fixed the game's biggest flaws and brought out the fun. This, in turn, is a strategy of EA's that actually involves and makes space for NFS: SHIFT. Instead of churning out another arcade-like racer, EA will instead keep the updates for Undercover flowing which fills the criteria of arcade-racer. For an even more accessible game that fulfills the mainstream criteria, there is the Nintendo Wii's Need for Speed: NITRO. And finally, to fulfill the criteria of the simulator, there is Need for Speed: SHIFT.

Now, first thing's first, there has been talks of Black Box Studios being shut down following the release of Undercover, and many suspected the economy as the problem. Such is not the case, instead Black Box moved into another one of EA Canada's offices, leaving behind their old homebase. Why is this relevant? Because if I had simply stated that NFS: SHIFT was a joint project between Slightly Mad Studios and Black Box, you'd be confused, thinking "but I thought Black Box shut down?" Well, they didn't. In any case, SHIFT has been in development since mid-2007; I had a chance to sample the game last month and I walked away very impressed.

For a game that is still in relatively early development, SHIFT played superbly well. The game engine certainly moved better than any next-gen NFS engine we've seen thus far, and that's being at only pre-alpha stage in development. The framerate was super tight, moving at a crisp 30 frames per second with barely a frame drop in sight, no matter how crazy things got. The overall quality of the visuals was absolutely astounding though, as the game's texture work is every bit as brilliant as it looks in the screenshots. The cars were that detailed, and so were the interiors. There's no doubt about it, but this is one gorgeous game.

There also some neat visual touches such as the motion blur, and the crashing which causes disorientation if severe enough. When playing the game using the in-dash view, your camera is essentially the eyes of the driver, and with every slam of the brakes, every burst of throttle, every nudge and crash, the camera will jolt forwards, backwards, and side-to-side - it's a very cool effect.

The early build EA had on hand featured six cars: Pagani Zonda F, Porsche 911 GT2, Audi RS4, Lotus Elise 111R, Chevrolet Corvette Z06, and a Shelby Terlingua. The Shelby is a 2008 Mustang that Shelby put together specifically for NFS: SHIFT. The tracks are a mixture of real-life circuits with made-up ones that take place in actual locations (such as London). We sampled both the London track, and the Brands Hatch, both of which we found equally fun. In total, a selection of 80 vehicles will be made present, likely with more on the way as downloadable content, in addition to 15 tracks, once again, possible more with DLC.

Now, because this all new NFS is a sim and developed by one of the leading developers of racing-sims, you'd better believe that SHIFT boasts an amazing physics engine. You get into a car like the Audi RS4 and you immediately feel the advantage of having an AWD system like QUATTRO giving you all of the grip and traction you need in order to stay on course. But the second you move to a rear or mid-engined supercar like the 911 GT2 or the Zonda, all hell breaks loose (as do your tires upon every sweeping turn). Heck, even when you step foot into a car where the engine is front-mounted (Z06), you immediately feel the difference in balance and weight distribution. Each and every car feels like its got a personality of its own, and that really helps keep SHIFT away from the GRID comparisons many are throwing around out there.

Speaking of personality, you can, of course, customize your car to your liking with both aesthetic and performance upgrades. EA hasn't gotten into much detail regarding the depth of the customization, but we're expecting big things for this sim. To keep in tune with the subject, the A.I. boasts unique personalities, too, with drivers that will make mistakes and also seek vengeance if you're racing dirty. And, yes, when you're in the mood for it, you can take your personality online and race against 12 other players.

As you can tell, I loved every minute I got to sample with Need for Speed: SHIFT. And even if you've been miffed by the franchise before, this can very well turn out to be the biggest and best Need for Speed game in a long time. Look for it to hit September 22nd, 2009.

3/27/2009 Arnold Katayev

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More Previews Of This Game
07/15/09 Need for Speed: SHIFT Arnold Katayev

New Comment System

Legacy Comment System (15 posts)

Friday, March 27, 2009 @ 7:01:55 PM

Arnold, hate to be a stickler for facts but the 911 GT2 isn't a Mid-Engined car. Its rear engined. The difference is that Mid-Engine cars have their engines placed in front and above the rear axle where as Rear engine cars have their engines located behind and above the rear axle.

Im pretty sure its a typo but i just want it to be clear as the 2 different drivetrains handle substantially differently.

You know me guys, im a GT addict and always have been, but i have also played and enjoyed almost all NFS games. I will likely be buying this to have on the side of GT5P for a break of pace at odd times when i want a change from GT.
The game sounds great, looks great and sounds like it plays great in early stages. I have faith in the team developing.

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ArnoldK PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, March 28, 2009 @ 12:14:11 AM

Good spot and you're absolutely right on. I wanted to express the differences between the four cars and their respective designs and how it affects their abilities and I totally forgot to mention the fact that the GT2 is rear engine. It must be a Freudian thing, because Porsche's GT1 in the late 90s was a mid-engine car.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009 @ 12:57:55 PM

Lol, someone gave me a thumbs down? Its not my fault me and Arnold know what we're talking about. Not my fault i like to make sure all articles before me are accurate when it comes to cars if they're a bit off.

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Friday, March 27, 2009 @ 7:47:14 PM

This game looks great, maybe I'll put it down on my shop-list.
But I'm also hoping for another street racing, I missed a game like Most Wanted.......
Carbon was good but not as good, Pro Street was good but not that good, Undercover can go to Garbageland.

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Friday, March 27, 2009 @ 8:52:32 PM

I'm pretty hyped for this, I hope the end product lives up to what I've seen so far.

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Friday, March 27, 2009 @ 9:14:13 PM

EA,has my attention!!
@Arnold is it anything like "hot pursuit" ?

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Friday, March 27, 2009 @ 9:56:37 PM

this game and dirt 2 are on my radar until gt5 comes out.

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Friday, March 27, 2009 @ 10:02:09 PM

I'll once again await a demo or indeed a friend purchasing it and saying if it is good or bad etc.

Last edited by tlpn99 on 3/27/2009 10:03:00 PM

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Monday, March 30, 2009 @ 10:17:48 PM

That's what I do with all the games I buy :)

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Friday, March 27, 2009 @ 10:25:46 PM

If GT5 indeed does not arrive this year, then the best racing game will be Forza 3. You can bookmark this statement for later, if you like.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009 @ 6:24:58 AM

I cannot wait! I really hope this is what it seems to be.... a NFS that will beat the best.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009 @ 10:47:59 AM

I have always been a big Need for Speed fan, and if this game can really challenge Gran Turismo, it will be a great game. Looking forward to this one. I hope I have a working ps3 by the time this one comes out.

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Monday, March 30, 2009 @ 10:11:43 PM

Unless GT5 comes out this year, this game will be the one to get this year. Of course, after GT5 comes out (whether this year or next year), it will be the best because Polyphony-Digital always stays on top of the competition. Also, EA is not an exclusive PS3 developer- which means that they are limited to whatever the 360 can handle since they usually make the same versions of their games for the PS3 & the 360.

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Friday, April 03, 2009 @ 11:31:06 AM

I'm looking forward to this game especially knowing that SMS is responsible for the development. Although from what I've read, the physics will be nothing like GTR2.
And Arnold, in GRID you can to some degree sense differences between the vehicles. With my G25 (and turning off TC and SC) for example, the difference between the Koenigsegg CCX and the one with the rear spoiler is easily distinguishable, with the latter behind being easier to drive. And you can easily tell the diffrece between a Pagani Zonda and the Koenigsegg CCX with the latter being exactly as it should- a much harder to handle vehicle but equally fun to drive. And you have to have the G25 setup properly to get the most out of GRID:

Force Feedback

* 60
* 70
* 70

* Deadzone- 0
* Steering Saturation- 25%
* Linearity- 1
* Accelerator Pedal Deadzone- 10%
* Accelerator Pedal Saturation- 85%
* Brake Pedall Deadzone- 15%
* Brake Pedal Saturation- 85%

* 900%- ON

Last edited by mikem on 4/3/2009 11:35:09 AM

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Friday, June 12, 2009 @ 9:37:36 PM

I can't wait unfortunately the car list looks meh I've seen it 4 times already starting with Most Wanted and it better have NSX & some awesome cars like Toyota-GT one it destroyed all on GT3!!

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