Need for Speed SHIFT Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC | PSP
Need for Speed SHIFT box art
System: X360, PS3, Wii, PC, PSP, DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: EA Bright Light 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: EA Games 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Sep. 12, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Aside from the normal race types you'd expect in a racing game, Shift also features showdown races. As you move up in the rankings, you'll have real-life race car drivers who you're competing against. Beat them enough times and they'll challenge you to a one-on-one showdown. Shift does a great job of making you actually care that there are race pros you're competing against. Once in a while, during a race, if there's an especially tense moment, the action will pause and the camera will zoom ahead to focus on the racer in front of you and remind you of whom you're racing against. For example, this might happen if you finally overtake the 2nd place racer with half a lap left to go, the camera will flash forward to put a name and a face to the car that will be trying desperately to keep you from winning. It's a great effect.

Need for Speed SHIFT screenshot

Above all else, driving competitively in Shift is just plain fun. Races are fast and visceral, and you really feel a sense of accomplishment when winning a race. Because the races get tough, with some taking multiple tries to get through, by only the second or third stage of difficulty, you'll find yourself having to challenge the way you race and adapt to new styles in order to achieve victory.

Given that Shift ups the difficulty in the later levels, you'll definitely get a good amount of racing for your dollar with this game. If you play every race to completion, you'll get hours upon hours of racing for your portable needs, and if you play until you get first in every event, you'll have plenty to do in this game for at least 15-20 hours.

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Despite a few missteps, Shift PSP impressed me on just about every level. It may not have much in common with the console version, but it serves as a great complement. It's a great game in its own right - independent of the console version - and designed under its own rules.

Though most PSP owners will pass this game up, as this holiday it will be hidden in the shadow of that other PSP racer Gran Turismo, Shift is different enough and good enough to warrant a purchase right alongside that PSP classic.

If it's fast-paced racing you crave, and you don't care about adjusting every nut and bolt on your car, then Shift is an excellent game that exceeds expectations in all areas. It would have been easy for EA to work up a slapdash product, put the Shift logo on it, and use the quality of the console version to sell it. But instead they've released a product that warrants a place in every PSP owners collection right next to the system's classics like Burnout Legends and Gran Turismo.

By Andrew Groen
CCC Freelance Writer

Shift has a great visual style complemented by a unique aesthetic. Some levels can be a bit plain and drab, but all other aspects look fantastic.
Controls are suitable for the subject matter, and the decision to put the accelerator and break controls on the face buttons rather than the triggers helps alleviate PSP hand aches.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Sound effects are all spot-on, but the real story here is the great in-game soundtrack that really helps liven things up and give the game a more energetic and arcade feeling.
Play Value
If you're looking for a racer on the PSP, you'll find very few better values. Shift features tons of races, a huge variety of race styles, and even a car painter/customization mode to spruce up cars to your liking. This is a very good value, and a high quality game.
Overall Rating - Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • True Racing Experience - Experience fast, visceral sports racing on PSP in a game designed by EA Bright Light Studios (a team with developers and designers who have worked on Burnout Legends, Burnout Dominator and EA F1 2001 & 2002).
  • World Tour - Take your skills through 40 professional world tour events covering over 14 unique race modes set at city circuits, coastal and mountain roads across the world.
  • Race Kings - Battle your way through World Tour, impress the 10 Race Kings and beat them all in showdown events to win their rides.
  • Dynamic Crash Effects - Feel the impacts through a combination of visual and audio effects that will leave the player disorientated and briefly disrupt the race.
  • Custom Liveries - Make all your cars the way you want them: get creative and make your own racing liveries and apply them to your favorite rides.
  • Additional gameplay features including Quickrace, Multiplayer ad hoc, Custom Soundtracks, and Party Play.

  • Screenshots / Images
    Need for Speed SHIFT screenshot - click to enlarge Need for Speed SHIFT screenshot - click to enlarge Need for Speed SHIFT screenshot - click to enlarge Need for Speed SHIFT screenshot - click to enlarge

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