Though the console versions of the Need for Speed games are known for their great visuals, the Blackberry version doesn't have that sense of style. Fortunately, the racing gameplay is good and offers plenty of variety.
Need for Speed Shift looks an awful lot like the classic arcade game Pole Position. If you're expecting sunlight glinting off your car's hood and plumes of particle-rendered exhaust, you're bound to be let down. The car sprites are tiny, and the road itself takes up only about a fourth of the game's screen, leaving a lot of viewing area unused. The music isn't all that impressive, either. The tinny, repetitive music occasionally sounds like a bunch of yowling cats. Each stage has its own background music, but you'll quickly want to switch to the radio or a CD instead.
Fortunately, while the graphics and sound are problematic, pretty much everything else in the game works just fine. You'll face 24 separate events, with seven different types of races, including straight circuits, drift runs, elimination rounds, and head-to-head face-offs. Between races, you can use your winnings to purchase new cars and upgrades like nitro boosts and better aerodynamics.
One crucial component of each race is earning style points, which you pick up by drifting (precision points) or ramming opponents (aggression points). You can earn more stars in each race by showing off, but it's possible to beat the game without relying on them. You have to earn a lot of style points to get extra stars, so this side challenge is for expert racers only.
Need for Speed Shift handles well, too. The game has responsive touch controls and a fun drifting "bar" onscreen that you have to center as you powerslide around turns. The game even lets you slipstream behind cars for a speed boost.
It's unfortunate that Need for Speed Shift looks and sounds so dated, but the game's various play modes, enjoyable racing mechanics, and challenging style point system offer a good racing game experience.
This review was provided by GameSpot mobile content partner SlideToPlay.com.