Need for Speed SHIFT Review
The skill of the AI drivers in the game is adjustable and capable of providing you with a pretty good level of challenge. The one thing that the AI doesn't do, thankfully, is make use of "rubber banding". Rubber banding is a technique used in many racing games to keep the races artificially competitive. If you pull out too far ahead, they'll suddenly catch up to you. If you drop behind, they'll slow down a bit until you catch up. Thankfully that's not the case here. Run a good race and you'll cross the finish line with the lead that you earned. Make too many mistakes and you'll limp your way across in a distant last. Assuming that you adjust the AI to match your skills - if you're an awesome video driver and you set the competition to easy, you'll be spending a lot of time in the winner's circle. You might want to wait on adjusting that AI based on your Tier 1 experiences, though, as you move your way up the tiers the competition and the cars they are driving will present you with more of a challenge. You can move up to a new tier when you've accumulated enough of those stars I mentioned earlier. You earn three stars for coming in first, two for second place, and one for third. However, since you're earning stars for precision and aggression points, as well as for side challenges unique to each event, you can still advance in the game without winning every event. This is a great idea because it means that one difficult event that is giving you some trouble will not be a big fat roadblock keeping you from advancing in the game. Completists will want to go back and eke out every star, but if you don't like an event you can still manage to get a star or two out of it and then be on your way.
Like previous Need for Speed games and many other racers, SHIFT features a garage where you can spend your winnings to purchase new vehicles (all licensed real-world cars) or to purchase upgrades for your current cars. The upgrade system is nicely streamlined and it's easy to see what effect each part will have on your car's overall performance as well as different aspects of its handling like acceleration and grip. Those who want a little more depth can access the game's tuner feature, but most people gamers will be more than happy to easily find the part that makes their car go faster and get back to the racing.
Online racing is pretty straightforward, but still enjoyable. There are ranked and unranked races, and as mentioned earlier these races contribute to your overall driver level. There's also a Driver Duel mode which is a series of one-on-one races that work like a ladder, with initial events in standard cars on easy tracks and each subsequent rung taking place on tougher courses and using more powerful cars.
I'm not a huge fan of racing games, but I do enjoy some of them. Need for Speed SHIFT managed to hook me to the point where I was looking forward to my next session with the game. Not all games can do that, and especially not all racing games, and that tells me that the designers did something right with this one.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 94%. This SHIFT puts Need for Speed into a higher gear.