Need for Speed: Shift

We got behind the wheel of the latest title in the Need for Speeds' franchise, which takes a sharp turn into simulation territory.

After a long stint as an arcade racer, Need for Speed is heading into simulation territory with Need for Speed: Shift. Announced in January as part of a three-game announcement that includes Need for Speed: Nitro and Need for Speed World Online, Shift takes a new, more realistic approach to racing and will be going head-to-head against seasoned pros Gran Turismo and Forza for the attention of serious racing fans.

Thankfully it looks like the franchise is in good hands, with London-based Slightly Mad Studios (formerly Blimey Games) heading up development duties. According to Shift's producer, Suzy Wallace, Slightly Mad is SimBin--the team behind the high-scoring GTR FIA Racing, GTR 2, and GT Legends games--in everything but name after most of the original team left to form their new studio, and the team is working closely with EA Black Box executive producer Michael Mann and EA Games Europe senior vice president Patrick Soderlund (cofounder of DICE) to ensure that Shift, currently in a pre-alpha build, meets the franchise's standards.

NFS: Shift features some immaculately detailed cars.

One of the immediately obvious innovations in Shift is the way it tries to simulate crashes; the development team is trying to re-create the jarring, often fear-filled experience. In addition to motion blur, you'll experience some violent camera shake--not too dissimilar to an onboard camera during crash replays--and you'll also experience temporary vision blur after crashes. This is accompanied by the typical audio effects involved in a high-speed collision, but also additional sound effects from your driver, such as a stress-induced spike in heart rate and even a sharp gasp of breath before impact. Lots of other small effects have gone into making Shift feel as realistic as possible, including tunnel vision at high speeds, subtle reflections coming off the windshield, and heat haze emitted from engines.

Shift is all about your experience as a race driver. The action will take place on existing, licensed racetracks, on new racetracks created for Shift, and on street circuits. There is no open-road racing this time around, and we were promised you won't be pursued by the police or have to take part in old-fashioned street races. Instead, Shift will feature 15 real-world locations in addition to fictitious tracks. We got a chance to see the Brands Hatch Race Circuit in Kent and a new London street circuit. The Brands Hatch course looks to be a faithful re-creation of the ex-Formula One racetrack, with a mix of long straights, sweeping curves, sharp corners, and hairpin turns offering variety throughout. Zipping around it with an Audi RS4 was a great introduction.

The London circuit is even more formidable than the purpose-built track, with the streets throwing in some particularly tight turns, all re-created in impressive detail. The location is instantly recognisable for anyone who has visited London. The circuit runs through the Thames' South Bank and the Victoria Embankment to the north, with dozens of famous landmarks flying past you, including the London Eye, County Hall, Houses of Parliament, and the Blackfriars and Westminster bridges. Shift has a dynamic weather condition, and this course looked brilliant at sunset. However, there's no word on whether you will be able to change the time of day manually or if there will be night races.

Unlike in some simulation racers, in Shift the focus is more on the driving experience than on amassing a sizable car collection, although it's unconfirmed if all of the vehicles in the game will be unlocked from the beginning. What is certain is that Shift will offer some exotic and highly tuned models, including the Porsche 997 GT 2, the Audi RS4, the Lotus Elise 111R, the Shelby Terlingua (a highly modified Ford Mustang made specifically for the Need for Speed series), the Chevrolet Corvette Z06, and the Pagani Zonda F. The game will feature more than 70 different cars in total, including hatches, classics, and exotic imports, and while we didn't get to see all of these, we did manage to get behind the wheel of the RS4 and the Terlingua and found them to look, sound, and feel incredibly authentic and true to life, complete with full race-day liveries. In fact, the car models looked so good that we almost found ourselves wanting to look more at the cars than at the road in front of us. In addition to creating realistic visuals, Slightly Mad is going for realistically performing cars, forgoing the rubber-band catch-up of arcade racers for damage modelling, with penalties to your car's physics, performance, and appearance should you hit too many obstacles in your way. The environments are also promised to be realistic, with animated crowds, race marshals, and LCD screens helping to re-create the race-day atmosphere.

Over 70 vehicles will be available to drive, all with realistic damage modelling.

If you fancy an in-cockpit, first-person view, you'll be pleased to know that the insides of the cars look as meticulous as the outsides, with highly detailed dashboards, driver animations, and even full working instruments. In fact, you can get rid of the heads-up display entirely and rely solely on the car's gauges if you so desire, and you can peer around the cockpit or even out of the window. The team has also tried to make you feel like you're connected with the car in external camera views by having the camera jerk back when you accelerate and shunt forward when you're braking. Additionally, the HUD shakes when in bumper view to give you a feeling of speed and vibration.

Shift's AI drivers will range from aggressive hotheads to cool, calm, and collected drivers, and the game's grudge system will ensure that aggravated drivers with a personal vendetta will seek out their revenge. Despite this, you won't have to worry about the marshals getting in the way with drive-through penalties or yellow flags. You'll also be able to compete against other humans. Though we didn't get to experience Shift's multiplayer, the game will support 16 players in online races. Need for Speed: Shift combines impressive real-world locations and cars, solid simulation gameplay, and some interesting additions to help immerse you in the racing experience. It's currently set for an autumn 2009 release on the PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PSP. In the meantime, stay tuned to GameSpot for more on Shift as it approaches.

Written By

Former staff writer for GameSpot.co.uk, now marketing guy for a certain major online retailer....

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Discussion

435 comments
DarkSlayer22
DarkSlayer22

Thats very stupid,, i just started to play Shift and cant exit properly...wth??

khairullahaha
khairullahaha

circuit racing huh? well i think carbon is better than this

pooya_d
pooya_d

it is not that bad ......... I am playing right now and I think it could be much better but anyway it is worth playing

rockgirlDMC
rockgirlDMC

Umm...circuit racing, boring racing. How disappointing.

waltdog72080
waltdog72080

I loved NFS Pro-Street, I hope this game is something like that, cause GT5 wasn't good at all, I loved the graphics of GT5 but the game play sucked. NFS is all we have for now.

samy29987
samy29987

i was hoping that NFS would take a turn and make a combination of hot pursuit and underground... drive at daylight and at night with cops and choopers following you... open roads at anytime... this simulatio games in cicuits is plain boring... just play forza or grand turismo cause they know what they are doing... the NFS franchise dissapointed me and it still is...

paul_2009
paul_2009

Looks good driving sims are the best, which one do i buy shift or dirt2. why are there never any demos any more. want to try before i buy. Also not convinced after last 2 nfs games. total pants. Race07 rules.

bevaneboy
bevaneboy

Seems to be awesome, I hope it brings back the NFS series to life because from carbon NFS died. All the pics up there shows that shift will have realistic graphics (I hope that it does not want a very very high end pc). But if this NFS game lets me down, I'm not going back to NFS again

CRYSIX
CRYSIX

I can't wait this game.

AltairJohnson
AltairJohnson

Looks good.. But Gran Turismo 5 looks even better than this. Although NFS:Shift's graphics has improved.

joshjames023
joshjames023

This is disappointing for me...I was hoping they'd go back to the Underground type design, just with more stuff to do and daytime races...if I want to play sim I can just play Forza 2 cause it came free with my xbox.

Duke_Bootee
Duke_Bootee

a race sim with a small stable of cars hmm.... this can go poorly very easily. I have very little faith in EA Games because they produce games for quantity not quality. If i want to play a Race Sim i want to get all kinds of stupid cars. To me its not a good Race Sim unless i can take a 65 Fiat 500 with a turbo around the Nurburgring Nordschleife.

JKing360
JKing360

I love nfs games, but i want inovition in this game( well, i hope so)

thatmy
thatmy

all of U buy first, if good, here i come and if not, forget it, i dun 1 2 waste my money for 2 yrs in a row. - prostreet and undercover. not going to be fooled 4 d 3rd times by EA!! lol.

DJMetal947
DJMetal947

To a few comments below... Yes high stakes II that game was perfection the only other game besides gran turismo (original) that i play for ps1... I hate ea now so bad i used to love them until all their games are short repetitive or just plain corny... explain why underground 2 had way more mods than all the newer 360 versions?

MetalGearGhOsT
MetalGearGhOsT

Why does everyone hate on Prostreet? The racing and tuning mechanics were great and very realistic. Ya we all hated the in-game announcers and the whole taking on the 'kings' of each type of racing was pretty cheesy, but when it came down to gameplay the game was SOLID.

detege
detege

I actually hope they release this mid-2010, so to make it finished game, no need to rush, quality is a must, coz i don't want to be disappinted anymore, and hopefully the use of DirectX 10.1

codename-60091
codename-60091

wow, just read the comments daily. bad remarks everywhere. taking it as a sample and looking at the means. u know this game >.

anshu2
anshu2

dashing awesome game!!!!

anshu2
anshu2

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

SciCo666
SciCo666

I will not waste another cent on the NFS rubbish. They dropped the ball completely in the last few installments, and sold half-made games which were basically an insult to the loyal followers. I'll spend my money elsewhere, thanks

electrovir
electrovir

I really hope nobody buys this game and EA starts thinking straight again. They need to make a NFS Hot Pursuit III or even better, High Stakes II. that was the best one. The only problem NFS has had in the past is car selection. which wasn't a problem in High Stakes.

jelly76
jelly76

The point is that they got us excited re: the claims that this was going to more sim-orientated (de ja vu from Prostreet announcement), and the fact that ex SIMBIN guys are onboard for this project (GTR, race etc) However I do understand that they are releasing 3 seperate titles....all of which will hit the shelves unfinished if past efforts are anything to go by.

flusternucker
flusternucker

Ug. NFS was my main squeeze for arcade racers. Hope they don't drop arcade racing for good (MMORPG doesn't count). Are first person shooters realistic? Never. So why do so many people get snobby about sim racers? If you love them, great, but don't act like arcade fans are neanderthals. I'll be the first to admit that I totally suck at sim racing... which in turn makes it frustrating and boring to me. But strangely I do enjoy changing the visuals on a street racer... very strange indeed because I dislike that culture in real life.... Don't fix what ain't broke NFS!

raiden2223
raiden2223

I used to play NFS until I found FORZA . I hope they get this one right could be very good. We need less arcade games more sim.

Mr_Fujiv1
Mr_Fujiv1

looks like there going down the same route as they did with pro street they will never learn :\

Steakface
Steakface

@ aflamingninja: Except that it is going to be a sim... GRID sucked, real racing fans can only hope that this game is everything that GRID wasn't. I for one will be welcoming back the sim racer into the mainstream with open arms, and waving goodbye enthusiastically to twitchy & childish arcade street racers that feature cheesy visual upgrades above actual driving mechanics. C'mon now, how much of that garbage do we need?

juztrax
juztrax

I do agree thou, Pro Street sucked!

juztrax
juztrax

Man, i for one will be looking forward to this one. I love sim racing. For those of you whinning about it being SIM, if you read the whole article you will see that they are making 3 TITLES , so there is enough for everyone. Real racing is where it's at!

aflamingninja
aflamingninja

great graphics, realistic damage modeling, only a few cars to choose from, realistic race types, this sounds like a blatant rip-off of GRID to me.

Steakface
Steakface

I might actually be buying an NFS game for the first time in 10 years, you know, back when most of you were still in elementary school? They have some real legends working with them on this one and I look forward to a real racing game for a change. How many ego-stroking, cheesy drift arcade street racers featuring virtual materialism do we need? Enough is enough. It's time to move on. We are seeing less and less of them (face it...) and I couldn't be happier. Bring back real racing, you have catered to the kids for long enough who demand realism, challenge and immersion in everything but their "racing" games... go figure. Until autumn 09, I will continue playing Race/GTR. Enjoy your controllers, kiddies!

inuyasha360x
inuyasha360x

The reason i buy NFS is for the illegal racing...not boring simulation racing...i look forward to saving 60 extra dollars this fall....

BlackDragon74
BlackDragon74

Hey EA listen up...IF IT AIN'T BROKE...DON'T FIX IT!!! Geesh...why would you do this to the NFS franchise?! The gamers like Carbon & Most Wanted style. We don't want a "realistic" sim. That's what Gran Turismo is for.

ballzilla
ballzilla

I don't know why they would break a proven formula. NFS was a success at every arcade style game produced. I remember rocking out to hot pursuit and underground. Those were the days.. If I wanted sims, I'd already be playing other games. There are times when I need stuff like Burnout and NFS to loosen up and it disappoints me that one franchise has gone down the crapper. I just hope it's not as crap as Prostreet. At least match the year old game GRID for goodness sakes.

slapaho15
slapaho15

I've been playing need for speed since the playstation and I have purchased in total 10 need for speed games the week they came out. I have liked them all for different reasons, except for prostreet which really didn't hold my attention. If I want a game where I can go buy a regular street car, customize it the way I want, then take it to the streets to race and be chased by cops, I have always thought need for speed was the best. If I want a simulation experiance it was Gran Turismo back on PS2 or Forza now. NFS will NOT, in my opinion, be able to match up to those franchises and I don't need 2 simulators. Especially given how long Forza took me to complete. So I say good luck and bid a sad farewell to the NFS franchise in my collection. I will not be considering this game and if this is the future of NFS I will not be considering them in the future. Too bad as it has been my favorite racer for the better part of 12 years. I'm sad to see it go.

expulsamos13
expulsamos13

This game better be able to re-lit the light of NFS that had vanished after Carbon....

Smudge_Smill
Smudge_Smill

Looks like they've lost the spirit of NFS...Looks like this will be one that appeals only to those who like the boring racing sims as opposed to fast-action fuel-pumped excitement!

Kerry12424
Kerry12424

I love street racing. I love getting a car and making it your own and racing it. I'm all in for something new. As for racing with rules, NASCAR's my thing (although NASCAR's games are getting worse and worse), but I'll be glad to try this one out. If I can still make a corvette look, feel, and sound great, than I'm in. It sounds great, the professional bit of it doesn't bother me at all, but I do want some laid-back freedom like the other Need For Speeds

hotrider12
hotrider12

after watching GTR2 on youtube the other day and to me it look EXCELLENT!!! now if simbin can do that hey, shift just might have my vote. for now I agree with areo_x360 hot pursuit,hotpursuit2, highstakes was and still is the BEST!!!! lets wait and see then judge shift. if its anything like GTR2 Im in point blank. I know all of us are in the unknown mode right now and none of us are used to this new type of racing style of NFS I perfer old style NFS but if its like GTR2 I'll give it a shot. how many with me??

Nc7
Nc7

Some realism, nice choice but they shouldn't leave road racing...my dream is to play something like the first NFS with this graphics and a good amount of tracks/locations. This would be the s*it!!!

Metsamees75
Metsamees75

OMFG ALL OTHER NFS-S ARE ILLEGAL RACES ! THEY RUINED IT AND MADE LEGAL RACE GAME ! THINK ABOUT IT PEOPLE!

aeroxhacker
aeroxhacker

its beter if EA makes the "UNDERGROUND 3"

Gigler
Gigler

EA gets an "A+" for pictures of their games. Their games get a freaking "F" when it becomes playtime. Suggestion EA, if Need For Speed Shift doesnt have graphics that exceed that of GRID, don't embarrass your brand. EA has lost my confidence except for MADDEN.

craigh07
craigh07

noooooooooooooooooooooooooo not another

swollenmadman
swollenmadman

If you like grid you will be right at home with this game. If you liked gran turismo wait for gran turismo, same for forza.. You can not compare these three, well maybe forza and gt, but not this. Where's the 400+ cars from gt. Not there. where's the custom engine and transmission from forza. Not there, IT IS GRID THE END. For me GRID was great for showing my friends how awesome my system is. Then switfly go back to forza or gt5 awesome graphics.

d_e_e_p
d_e_e_p

i think it wont be like nfs pro street eagarly waiting for it...........................

hairybeanbag
hairybeanbag

Hope its better than all the other need for speeds

phppapa
phppapa

I hope this one is as good as NFS Underground 2 and NFS Carbon! The rest after that kinda stunk! LOL ....