Metascore
83

Generally favorable reviews - based on 75 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 67 out of 75
  2. Negative: 0 out of 75
  1. 100
    If you're a number-munching automotive aficionado with a penchant for judging games the way an accountant judges a financial portfolio, know that this is a racing game dedicated to the act of racing rather than the actors, more intent on refining the experience of driving rather than celebrating car culture with scads of vehicles.
  2. 100
    What EA has done here is reinvent a bloated franchise, and turned it into a product that the hardcore and the more casual among us can enjoy equally.
  3. EA has turned a corner with their development of Need for Speed SHIFT. While it retains some elements of the traditional console game style, it also raises the bar for realism in a console-based racer. Budget for a steering wheel, though, to get fully benefit from the vastly better physics modeling.
  4. 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.
  5. Need for Speed: Shift is named well, as it marks a monumental shift in game design for the franchise.
  6. The Need for Speed franchise has grown up. Dropping the street racing concept and moving to be a legit racing "simulation" was a good move. Not only did they name the game Shift, but I think they shifted into a new and exciting direction for the Need for Speed franchise.
  7. Need for Speed Shift is a surprising turn for the series, pushing away from flashy street racing to compete with the likes of Forza and Gran Turismo. Its feature-set still has room to grow, but the tight driving experience stands up with the best.
  8. Did we mention your speakers will enjoy every single bit of this game as well?
  9. So what is there left to say except, if you call yourself a racing fan, even if you have passed on or hated the last few outings this Need for Speed series had to offer, this is a whole new game that feels fresh. To put it in simple terms, you "Need" this game in your racing library.
  10. Need for Speed: Shift is a wonderful re-imaging of Electronic Arts' classic series and one of 2009's best racing games. The combination of exquisite graphics and hardcore crashing delivers an adrenaline shot to players who drool over squealing tires, burnt rubber and exotic muscle machines.
  11. Go, NfS! I had serious doubts about this one, but it delivers like a Porsche.
  12. 90
    A glorious return to greatness (and even excellence) for EA's seminal racing franchise. Slightly Mad Studios has delivered a driving experience that, while not completely accurate in terms of its simulation aspects, is practically dead-on in terms of what it's like to race around some of the world's best racing circuits.
  13. It's both a genre leading racing sim and a mass market EA game at the same time, which is a particularly difficult balancing act to pull off. Shift is easily the best driving game so far this year and will certainly be in amongst the likes of Forza 3 (and possibly GT5, if it emerges) when the brake dust from 2009 settles.
  14. Need for Speed: Shift is excellent in concept and flawless in execution. It’s nothing less that the next great racing simulator to grace the Xbox 360.
  15. Shift is hugely entertaining, but remember that it’s not about the sillier fun of its Need for Speed predecessors. It’s about the nail-biting intensity and challenge of hanging on to your car at high speed, and as long as that’s how you like your racing, you’ll disappear into this game.
  16. Overall, Need For Speed: Shift is a welcome change of pace in the long-running series, and a welcome addition to the sim racing genre as well.
  17. Need for Speed: Shift is a compelling racing game that does an admirable job of balancing its simulation side with its arcade side. The combination of fun events, varied tracks and a solid racing engine make quite a convincing package.
  18. Need For Speed Shift does exactly what it is made for: giving any driver the experience they want in a racing game.
  19. 90
    With so much provision for purist racing as well as arcade thrills, it's a delight to report that Shift strikes a fantastic balance between the two. From a thoughtful introductory race that helps define your style and skills through to a compelling career mode and constant back-patting, Need for Speed Shift is a delight to play.
  20. Not without its light flaws, this great Need for Speed return is an exciting new point of view on the world of Turismo racing, mainly thanks to a well-crafted driving model. If you like the races, and you’re not a simulation fanatic, it’s the game to have.
  21. We expected an overly simulative game, but Need for Speed: SHIFT revealed to be half-way between sim and arcade racing: nevertheless, we found id very entertaining and exciting. If you're looking for a proper sim you'll have to look elsewhere on the market, but if all you want is feeling strong and satisfying emotions, this game could be the one for you.
  22. If you enjoy simulation racers you definitely need to give Shift a few test laps, once you get past the fact that it’s not a street racer, you can settle in and enjoy it for what it is…a commendable tier racer with more under the hood, where it counts.
  23. 89
    Taking all things into consideration, and despite some dodgy gameplay balance issues, wonky supercar handling, and ill-fitting drift events, much of Need for Speed: Shift is undeniably impressive and EA's work is done with regard to breathing fresh life into a decaying series corpse.
  24. 89
    Need for Speed: Shift is a large step forward for the genre. The balance between arcade and simulation is nearly flawless, not to mention the graphics are jaw-dropping.
  25. Shift may not have snatched the yardstick from Turn 10, Polyphony Digital or Codemasters, the damage model might not be the best in the genre, and nor is it the absolute, final word in realistic driving. But it has reignited our affection for Need For Speed - and that alone is a real achievement.
  26. Your worries are over. This is the best racer since Pro, and perfect filler till Forza 3.
  27. Need for Speed reinvents itself with a game very different to the series tradition but that results in an excellent racing game, with the right dose of simulation.
  28. Need For Speed comes to the sim side of racing, and the result is a game that is plenty sim enough for most racing fans, but not too hardcore that it makes arcade racers like me bored or frustrated.
  29. This time around the fat has been trimmed and the focus in Need for Speed: Shift is on delivering an intense, almost gritty racing experience. Shift strikes a good balance between being accessible and moving the game in a more realistic direction.
  30. 87
    Need for Speed Shift gets the most important part of a racing game right and it does so with a flair that’s uncommon in a frequently po-faced genre, providing driving that’s genuinely thrilling.
  31. The bottom line is that long time fans of the Need For Speed series should be very excited about the new direction the franchise is going in.
  32. Shift revitalizes the Need for Speed series with an amazing mix of arcade and simulation.
  33. 86
    Need for Speed Shift doesn’t only provide a great shift within the NFS-franchise. In fact, the game is also an extremely good racing game.
  34. SHIFT will disappoint those looking for Maggie Q and cop chases, but racing sim fans, looking for a solid alternative to Forza and the like, should buckle-up for Need for Speed’s new ride.
  35. Excellent graphics and sound, especially for the driver camera, offer something awesome to the genre, while the controls are as tight as ever. Add this to a mostly solid campaign mode and opponent AI that does more than stick to pre-determined racing lines, and you have a racing game that can stand up well with the best of them.
  36. Beginners and casual gamers with little patience will likely be turned off by the difficult Drift Competitions and Driver Duel races (when playing against the A.I.), but otherwise, SHIFT offers a highly customizable and engaging player experience that is welcoming to both racing-sim lovers and arcade racers alike.
  37. 85
    Overall, while Need for Speed Shift appears to be aiming at providing a simulation-racing experience, it obviously hasn't forgotten about the series' core fan-base, making a game that can be enjoyed by just about any kind of racing game fan.
  38. Shift shows a lot of potential for the series and will go down as one of the best racing games of 2009.
  39. Need for Speed: Shift is a great reboot for the NFS franchise.
  40. To simply spell it out, Need for Speed: Shift is the racing title that fans have been waiting for.
  41. Need For Speed: Shift is a welcome entry into the world of track racing and a step back in the right direction for the series. The biggest problem is the game doesn't do too much to distinguish itself from the other excellent racing games available lately.
  42. Overall, NFS Shift provides an entertaining experience with a decent variety of tracks, locations, and vehicles.
  43. Need for Speed: Shift has found the right direction once again. The race feeling with the most cars is fantastic and the game looks great. There is enough to do and the experience system invites the player to do races more than once.
  44. The bottom line is that Shift is a competent racer with a lot of flashy doodads tacked on. In that respect, it’s actually similar to the cars so heavily featured in games the series is now so eager to forget.
  45. 83
    It is Shift's ability to bring the roar of the race to life, that manages to drown out much of its flaws.
  46. If you’re a fan of games like Project Gotham Racing and Grid, you’d really be doing yourself a disservice in missing out on this game since it’s probably right up your alley.
  47. For a game that covers everything from drift events to time trials and eliminators, not to mention bumper-to-bumper tuning options, a top-tier physics model and authentic handling, Shift has enough precision and purpose to give anyone pause. [Nov 2009, p.98]
  48. We'd happily champion Shift as the game to fill the gap that's been left by the absence of Project Gotham Racing. [Nov 2009, p.128]
  49. On the whole though the racing action is very good, with a strong range of cars, attractive visuals and an international approach to motorsport that doesn't seem false or forced.
  50. It's this balance between arcade and sim racing - two apparently conflicting styles - that gives Shift its edge. While it doesn't quite hit the heights of Project Gotham Racing 4 or even RACE Pro, it's a huge leap forward for a series that had definitely lost its way. We're feeling the need for speed all over again.
  51. Need For Speed: Shift is a brilliant new start for the franchise and has clearly been built by a team that loves racing.
  52. That Need for Speed Shift was going to be more of a simulation wasn't a big surprise when Slightly Mad Studios got the job. It is however a surprise that the game ended up being this good. Thanks to the cockpit-view, the sense of speed and the eye for detail, Shift takes the Need for Speed-series back to the top.
  53. This is a swerve in the right direction for the franchise. We don't know if EA will continue this road next year, but it would be a shame not to follow some of the great things SHIFT has come up with.
  54. Once the initial gloss wears off Shift is still a solid and enjoyable racing game. There should be plenty of parts of the game for racing fans to enjoy. However the controls and lack of identity might keep you from delving as deep into Shift as would with other racing games.
  55. This game goes from zero-to-60 fast enough, but that only brings it upon the question of “now what?” that much more quickly. I don’t want to say that being a sim-racer is a dead end, but it’s hard to know where the Shift branch of Need for Speed can go from here.
  56. Overall, this game makes you want to get to the next tier, pushes you to get to the next level so you are invited to international events, and rewards you regardless of your driving style. That makes it accessible to just about any gamer out there and is definitely worth your time to give the cars in here a spin.
  57. 80
    For what it is, however, Shift is a fun game and is probably the most accessible sim racer for casual fans or newcomers to the genre.
  58. Despite its shortcomings, Shift is a very good game. Problem is, Shift is a very good game with some truly exceptional competition.
  59. Need for Speed: SHIFT takes this classic franchise in a whole new direction, whilst this may leave a bitter taste in the mouths of some fans, for the most part the games developers have served up a pretty authentic racing experience.
  60. One of the most satisfying racing games for some time that has captured the intense nature of the sport incredibly well. With a few tweaks, this could be something very special. [Issue#51, p.88]
  61. 80
    Slightly Mad has thrown away the novelty numberplate, lowered the chassis and tightened the wheel nuts, among other such intelligent-sounding automotive expressions. Forza and GRID still have the edge in terms of raw playability, but EA’s old roadster is closing the distance.
  62. 80
    The game does a great job of continuing to reward you for your performance and because of that, SHIFT is an engaging and addictive sim racer. It sets a great foundation for future iterations but hopefully, the sequel won't suddenly throw the e-brake on the action and force you to the side of the road every now and again.
  63. Need for Speed Shift sets out to try and accomplish a number of goals, with the primary two being to deliver an authentic racing experience and potentially revitalize the series. Although it doesn’t quite manage to fully accomplish either of these, this is still a valiant effort that, had it given some more development time, could’ve been a far superior package.
  64. Not the best on 360, but certainly not the worst. [Dec 2009, p.80]
  65. It isn’t quite a Gran Turismo or Forza game yet, but give this a few years and like FIFA 10 in its genre, Need for Speed could become ‘the definitive’ racing game.
  66. When you consider all the ups and downs of this one, I must admit it just doesn't retain thrill we've got from titles like Most Wanted and the Underground series.
  67. Despite its disappointingly lopsided online play, Shift is easily among the best multiplatform racing games available, and its cockpit view sets a new gold standard for the genre.
  68. SHIFT is a solid basis to start building a motor sport series on. It's got all the features you expect, it looks fantastic, and the track action is exciting, if fraught.
  69. SHIFT is an odd beast. Happy to straddle that middle ground between simulation and arcade, it doesn’t necessarily master either.
  70. Shift doesn’t pull off that tricky balancing act with the finesse of Bizarre’s urban racer, but there’s still a lot of fun to be had here for petrolheads after a lighter introduction to the world of sim-racing. If nothing else, it’s certainly a shift in the right direction for the series, with a solid base for improvement.
  71. Shift is neither an arcade racer nor a simulation; it's stuck somewhere between the two, and while there's plenty of good racing to be had here, it's unlikely to completely satisfy fans of either.
  72. I was truly hopeful that the change of direction would be good for the series, but it just seems like a major step in the wrong direction. Instead the game sits uncomfortably between an arcade and a simulation racer, and never really excels in either department. Plus, the loading times border on the outright unacceptable.
  73. The more you play Need For Speed: Shift the more you find yourself forgiving the half-arsed attempt at vehicle damage.
  74. The game feels like it's stuck between two worlds, and it doesn't execute well enough on either side to fully satisfy any type of racing fan.
  75. It turns out that EA, first with FIFA and now with Need For Speed, had the answer to beat the cynics all along: simply make a good game.
User Score
6.5

Mixed or average reviews- based on 123 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 44
  2. Negative: 11 out of 44
  1. Oct 2, 2012
    8
    Need for Speed: Shift

    Need for Speed Shift is the 13th installment of the video game franchise published by Electronic Arts. Shift is aimed
    at a more hardcore gamer-style audience and it changes the racing style to a touring car simulation just like its predecessor Need for Speed Prostreet. The games career starts with the player having to complete a lap of the famous Brand hatch. Upon completion of the lap the game automatically provides the player with settings the game feels is right for the players driving style. Even though these settings are provided automatically, they can be changed at any point of the game.
    Shift does not contain an actual storyline but the career is very addicting and challenging. The player is welcomed to the
    Full Review »
  2. May 12, 2011
    0
    I agree with the negative reviews here and felt so ripped off after purchasing this game I actually registered on Metacritic to write this review. I have been a racing sim fans for years and actually work in the video game industry. This game is utterly unplayable. The cars drive like boats and just driving in a straight line is almost impossible. Beyond that, the graphics look nothing like the screenshots or videos. I bought the PS3 version, so maybe it does on the PC but compared with other console sim racers like Forza or GT, this game looks like a poorly executed fan mode of a last gen game. Graphics from some original PS2 or Xbox games are just about on par with this. I only hope anyone considering purchasing this title takes some time read these reviews and saves themselves some money.

    The only positive area I was really impressed with was the sound. If you close your eyes and don't attempt to actually play the game, I suppose it would be a fairly enjoyable experience ;)
    Full Review »
  3. JanF
    Sep 22, 2009
    0
    Poor game in all aspects, ended up in the middle achieving nothing for either camp.