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July 4 2009
Need for Speed Shift - PS3 Preview
Release Date Distributer Publisher Developer
17/9/2009EA GamesEA GamesSlightly Mad Studios
Offline Players Online players Price Anticipation
1TBA$99.95
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It's not just modern cars in Need for Speed Shift.
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Graphics in this game do look impressive.

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The in-car viewpoint in NFS: Shift.
It's fair to say that I've given EA's titles a lot of shit over the years for being sub-par, or only offering minimal updates over the previous years iteration. I still feel however that much of that criticism remains fair and justified to this day. As a result though Electronic Arts essentially dropped me off their PR lists - no review code, no press releases and it became a struggle to even get release schedules from them.

It seems though that a corner has been turned - at least in terms of the quality of their products. Electronic Arts has, over the last year or so, developed and published some great titles with their new quality over quantity philosophy starting to pay dividends - if not commercially then critically at the very least. Games such as Dead Space, Battlefield: Bad Company, Army of Two, Burnout Paradise, Mirrors Edge and of course Rock Band demonstrate the companies' willingness to push new IP's onto the market, and with that comes a new level of respect.

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Can NFS: Shift improve on recent disappointments?
Now we return to a franchise that I have criticised in the past Need for Speed. I've never been a big fan of this series, sluggish frame rates, inconsisent gameplay, and a variable quality level from game to game kept it off my 'most wanted' radar. But Need for Speed Shift looks set to be the most exciting installment in the franchise for years and should erase the painful memories of Need for Speed Carbon and Need for Speed ProStreet which were both released in 2007 and last years terrible Need for Speed Undercover. So, onto Shift...

Developed by Slightly Mad Studios (a new-ish company that assisted SimBin Studios with GT Legends and GTR2 under their former name Blimey! Games) this is their first major title. By far the biggest change this game brings to the series is that of the in-car viewpoint. This has not been seen since NFS: Porsche Unleashed, and draws players into the realism of racing. The driver will be seen changing gears, and glancing at mirrors. If you're involved in a heavy crash the screen blurs our for a few moments until you regain your senses - a great way to penalise those crashing around the track without breaking the realism. Indeed the development of this game has moved the series away from its arcaded styled roots to a more simulation styled game while retaining the 'fun' of racing cars.

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The sense of speed is very impressive.
NFS Shift will feature around 80 cars in total including the following: 1999 Nissan Skyline 2000GT-R, 2007 Ford Focus ST, 2008 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4, 2006 Lotus Elise 111R, 2008 VW Scirocco, 1995 Mazda RX-7, 2009 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 2005 Maserati MC12 GT1, 2009 Nissan 370Z, 1994 McLaren F1, 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10, 2009 BMW M3 GT2 (which will feature on the games cover) and the 1986 Toyota Corolla GTS (FTW!).

Each of the cars in the game can be upgraded and tuned up, and you will be able to make visual modifications to both the interiour and exterior of the car as well. Most of the tracks in the game are licenses from European and America circuits with a few located within cities. One track announced to date is Brands Hatch located in Kent, England while another is a fictional track around the streets of London. Formula One racing tracks such as Silverstone will also be included in the game. Of course online gameplay is a key component in any video game and we expect it to be included in NFS Shift as well. Unfortunately we have no confirmation of online gameplay, modes or player numbers.

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Getting some sweet drift.
Visually there is no doubt that Need for Speed Shift is impressive. What you can't see from these screenshots is the fluidity of the title, the cars slide around corners with smoke pouring up from the wheels, collisions make the entire screen shake and the car models are exceptional to say the least.

While I have criticised the Need for Speed franchise in the past I have a sense of optimism about the franchise, and this game in particular. With a development period of almost three years by the time this game hits the shelves in September this isn't a rushed product by any stretch of the imagination and that gives us some form of hope.

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Car detail is superb.
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Interiors have also been accurately modelled.