Thursday, December 24, 2009

Need for Speed Shift

iTunes Link

Need for Speed Shift is a racing game by Electronic Arts. $9.99

Originally Need for Speed Shift was not announced to be coming to the iPhone and iPod Touch in 2009, or even at all. The huge success of Need for Speed Undercover when it was released must have made EA realize it was worth them bringing out this title. Luckily for us they did and we can once again experience the Need for Speed, in a different way to Undercover.

Need for Speed Undercover is the uncontested arcade racing king while Real Racing holds onto the simulation racing spot. Need for Speed Shift was meant to be a simulation racer but instead the iPhone version is dead smack in the middle of the two genres. The racing style in NFS Shift is designed to be more of a simulation experience, with no incoming cars or being able to make other cars to flying. The racing modes and track designs just give this an arcade feel and the mix of the two makes for a deadly combination.

To be honest as first I thought the graphics were a bit of a let down when compared to NFS Undercover. In Undercover it was released before the 3GS so they had to unload all they had onto the current devices to make it look good. In Shift the small things that will cause the older devices to lag up have been saved for the 3rd Gen devices.

The reason for this is that while the cars look the same it is the amount of stuff in the background that would really tear the older devices to shreds. The city landscapes have a heap of buildings which are 3D, increasing the stress on smaller devices. Without the gleam and small effects I am surprised that this runs as well as it does on smaller devices with only minimal lag. On 3rd Gen devices you get all the small things that have are added to give it a slightly more polished feel.

Don't be put off by that if you own an older device, it still looks superb on our devices. You may not think it looks as good as Undercover to begin with mainly because it has a totally different style to it. It is in the middle of the day and all the tracks are nice and bright, unlike the dusk setting in Undercover. Everything right down to the cars look different and for me it took a bit of time adjusting to this new look. I absolutely love this game now after a few hours playing and believe it easily looks better than Undercover.

There are different racing views all look spectacular and really give you a great view of the track. However you drive this game looks superb and you will sometimes find yourself off the track because you were gawking at the scenery and how beautiful it looks. If you don't want this game because you like racing games it is definitely one to get and show off to all your friends who think their PSP games look good.

Electronic Arts have also included some sweet licensed tunes for us to listen to. The songs play throughout the entire game but sound the best while surfing the menu's. The beats of the songs make me feel like I am watching the Fast & Furious movies. During the race the songs are blocked out basically by the sound of your incredibly loud car engine. The sounds are pretty basic but work well for this racing game, especially with little things like changing the sound when the gears change.

The controls in Shift and Undercover are fairly similar but there are a few obvious differences between the two. The things that have stayed the same are that you have to tilt the device to steer your car, touch the screen to brake and that this is an auto-accelerate game. The reason for the auto acceleration I believe is to reduce the number of buttons on the screen, getting in the way of the sweet graphics. I am sure those who wanted Auto-accelerate wouldn't mind a button though if the mode was optional.

The Nitro is still in this game but instead of flicking up with the screen there is a tiny button on the right hand side. It is pretty small and even though it may not let you see as much the button should be bigger than it is. It is here to make way for the automatic and manual transmission options. When in manual you can change gears by flicking your finger up or down on the screen, having a bit of simulation racing in this game. The slow-down of time option has also been taken out, mainly due to the fact that normal car races don't have that option in their cars.

The controls work well, apart from the Nitro button for now. They have implemented the touch controls to successfully let you do more than just touch on screen buttons. If the Nitro button wasn't so small and sticky then these would basically be perfect controls for a game that uses auto acceleration.

The racing modes in Shift are definitely have more of an arcade feel to them. In the game you can on tracks which take you through 18 unique street tracks using 7 game modes. Instead of in a simulation racer where you may find just a circuit race there are many more game modes to keep you interested.

These modes are:

  • Circuit- Complete a certain number of laps of the track and try and come in 1st position
  • Elimination- Race 2 or 3 laps of the track and avoid being the last to finish every lap as they get eliminated until one remains
  • Sprint- Try to finish in 1st place after racing from Point A to Point B
  • Driver Duel- Take on an opponent 1 on 1 and try to get 5 seconds ahead to win
  • Drift- Go around the track at your own pace drifting and trying to get a certain number of drift points
  • Timetrial- You have 3 laps to try and beat the winning time to get the gold medal
  • Exhibition- Race 1 on 1 against an opponent in a totally identical car

There are four locations in the game Chicago, London, Tokyo and the World Tour. Each of these has 7 events, one from each of the different game modes. The best thing about this game is that if you suck at one particular mode you can still get through the game because it is based on the number of stars you collect, not positions.

The game has a very in-depth career mode to show how good and sometimes bad you are. In almost all the race modes the races have different optional objectives that if you complete will let you earn a star. These are things like staying on the race line, lead for an entire lap and many more. These stars are used to unlock new tracks.

In each race you earn points by staying on the racing line, successfully driving a corner, drifting and much more. These are separated into two categories so you can tell what type of driver you are. All points go towards your driver level, which earns you more cars and money are you level up. There are 20 levels available in the game.

There are a bunch of trophies that you can try and earn. They have five levels to them and require you to do things like drift for so long in your career, perform x amount of overtakes or win x amount of events consecutively. These mean nothing but are a nice thing to try and achieve in your career. Another thing to watch is your win-loss record which again means nothing but is you are on 11-50 then you it tells you that practice may be handy.

In this game there are 20 licensed cars available for you to unlock and buy. These range from your BMW's to your Lamborghini's and Pagani's. The cars are ranked in tiers and certain cars can only go in certain events. This means that you are going to be regularly buying carr to not only stay with the competition but to re-play older tracks that you may need to re-do to earn some more stars. Some cars are unlocked by reaching a certain level and others are by completing certain events.

The game starts out very slow with no sense of speed what so ever as you own your first car. As I found though as you upgrade you car a bit or decide to buy a new car you quickly find that this game gives you some seriously quick cars and you better step up your act right away. While the first few races are off putting you will find this is one of the most thrilling racing games out there, especially when you unless the NOS.

All the cars are semi-customizable in both performance and visuals. You can give you car a new paint job from a base of set colours or add bodykits, new rims etc. You can also improve the performance of your car by upgrading it's acceleration, suspension, speed, tyres or add some nitro to your car. The prices rise as you get higher tiered cars so be prepared to spend the cash effectively.

The racing comes in 3 games modes Rookie, Amateur or Professional but you can customize it to suit yourself. This means choosing either Auto or Man transmission, steering assist, braking assist and whether you want the race line. The race line is a great addition to the game and is something I loved in the Forza Motorsport games. This lets you know the best line for the race and whether you are going too fast to make the corner. This is a nice addition that makes this feel like a simulation racer.

There are a few obvious signs that Electronic Arts tried to make this into more of a simulation racer. The first one is the fact that this game is more about choosing the right path on the race track instead of smashing and bashing your way around the track. Going off the track effects you but I feel like it is a bit too forgiving as you just bounce off the side of the track and slow down. I would have loved to have seen a bit more action, especially when going 200 Mph. The other dead giveaway is that unlike Asphalt, Undercover etc. you can not ram into another car and send it flying into the side of the wall. While you can earn a trophy for knock outs they are incredibly hard and you generally just run up the side of another car and make sparks.

There are four camera modes for you to play around with. The first is the cockpit mode just like in Real Racing. This looks cool and definitely makes it feel like a simulation racer. I enjoyed this mode the best because as you crash and get hit the windscreen slowly scratches before smashing. This mode isn't the best though, especially when trying to drift. There are two more modes that let you see just the bonnet of the car and then nothing but the race track. These look really cool but you wouldn't want to drive around in them. The final mode is the classic view behind the car, which let's you see everything that is going on and gives the full effect of the landscape. I will use this mode most for driving, especially in faster cars as you have more idea of where the corners are.

If that isn't enough there is also an option that let's you race your own friends via local multiplayer. This mode works quite well and it is really awesome how well it works. You may find a slight bit of lag but generally this is a heap of fun and very competitive.

It will take the average gamer around 4 hours to complete all the racing tracks and around 6 or 7 hours to unlock all the cars, get to Level 20 and earn all 150 stars. This game is absolutely amazing and the arcade feeling with the simulation racing style makes this into the best racing game on the App Store. Period. You would have to be insane not to get this game, especially at the Christmas sale price of $6.99.

Only Electronic Arts can deliver such a game that brings speed, excitement and an addictive game into a single game. Need for Speed is everything it's earlier version was and more. This is definitely one of the games of the year and I love it too bits as you can see with the size of this review. There is a slight bug some people are experiencing with a certain race in Tokyo crashing, but that is going to be fixed soon and then the game should be perfect. Just get this now, you shouldn't be disappointed. And Merry Christmas to everyone!

Gameplay- 10/10
Graphics- 10/10
Controls- 9.5/10
Overall- 9.5/10

I would recommend this game if you enjoyed- Need for Speed Undercover

Tell me what you think about this review at Twitter- next up is Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes - Encore

Thanks- iPhone_Reviews


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