Generally favorable reviews - based on 75 Critics What's this?

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Mixed or average reviews- based on 126 Ratings

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  • Summary: Need for Speed SHIFT brings a true driver's experience to some of the world's most iconic racing tracks, including the storied Brand's Hatch in the UK. The game also features the largest roster of high-performance cars in Need for Speed history including race cars such as the Pagani Zonda F, Porsche 911 GT2 and Lotus Elise. Players are thrust into the loud, intense, and athletic experience of racing a car from the driver's perspective through the combination of perception based G-forces, the hyper reality of the cockpit view, and the all-new brutally disorienting crash dynamic. Need for Speed SHIFT features an accurate, accessible physics-based driving model that allows you to feel every impact, every change of track surface and every last bit of grip as you push yourself to the edge. [Electronic Arts] Expand
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. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Shift shows a lot of potential for the series and will go down as one of the best racing games of 2009.
  5. 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]
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

See all 75 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 44
  2. Negative: 11 out of 44
  1. MattL
    Sep 15, 2009
    Amazing driving experience. All the cars you actually want. Sound as well as graphics look amazing. Also the fact that its got a balance between simulation and arcade is a HUGE plus. Simulation racers bore me, but arcade leaves something to be desired. With the balance that shift has (close to GRID) its absolutely perfect. Collapse
  2. TizzyDaBrwnBear
    Sep 23, 2009
    This is the best nfs after nfs most wanted. When I heard they have take it to the tracks and off the street I was upset until I played it. I thought this game was just another nfs pro street(which sucked), but after playing shift I have changed my opinion 180deg. Shift is the best. No cops I can live with that. Nfs changing with time and it is a good change. Expand
  3. Feb 5, 2011
    I'm glad I waited so long to write a review for this game because I wanted a lot of other racing games to come out and I wanted to compare.It's 2-11 now and I'll tell you what,this game has screams of greatness and pure quality racing no matter what reason you play racing games.I personally think that Forza 3 is the best console racing game ever created but this game is a very close second along with Dirt 2.This game really has it all,the **** pit view,graphics,game play ,replay value,depth,character,ect..Everyone has there own opinion but I would pick this game in a heart beat if the choice was this or gran turismo 5,that game is ridiculous and sloppy but anyway,I love the sense of REALLY driving in this game and the damage model is great.Grid tried to do what this game really pulled off.I'm waiting very anxiously for Shift 2 unleashed.This year has a lot of amazing racing games coming out but Need for speed shift unleashed gets to be first ,so that's good!Great games EA! Expand
  4. KBT
    Apr 26, 2011
    Alright, it is obvious that the user scores and reviews for Shift 2 Unleashed (S2U) are not unanimously positive, although the vast majority is quite pleased with it. Now, I will try to give my own perspective on the game and hopefully showing that what it is that makes this game pleasant for most and bad for others. First and foremost, S2U has some elements which are certainly well worked out and worth the attention, especially for the race sim fans. However, I believe that the game has too many major flaws which impede it being a great game like forza. These interesting elements, i.e. the surplus for the racing genre, consist of the helmet cam, the personalised sense of a racing career, night racing and the autolog for the multiplayer. As stated, on the other hand there are major downsides to this game as well. The most important one is the frustrating gameplay (especially at the beginning). Trying to balance between arcade and sim, the handling of all the cars in S2U is 'floaty.' At least to me, it didn't feel realistic at all due to frequent oversteer with all cars. This is not just a matter of tuning, it is the very way the driving mechanics work in S2U. Especially at the beginning of the game it feels like the car isn't on a race track at all, but on a ice rink. The cars you drive slide from side to side and then there is the just as frustrating minor lag between controller input and car reaction; the latter problem makes things even more difficult. Add the fact that the difficulty 'easy' is a bit too difficult for the occasional sim driver (like me) and way too difficult for the inexperienced, and the sum is a difficult car to control, and a too difficult game to master considering its pretence of being between arcade and sim. Besides the 'unrealistic' handling of the cars, the game forces you into the career mode and doesn't allow a quick race where you can choose from one of the the many cars the game has to offer. These quick races are only possible for the cars you own and this is a major mistake I believe. Another failure is the absence of the rewind option during racing; there is only the famous restart. Considering the difficulty of the game the rewind option is essential for a less frustrating, and more arcade, play. The sound and music is proper, but not special. One part of the sound did trouble me and that was a peculiar 'tic' every car in S2U makes during races (irrelevant to the view), although I never heard it at Forza nor GT.
    Although S2U has some neat features (helmet cam, night racing, personalized experience) it is far from the status of forza. The most important element in race games, car handling, is flawed per se. Add the difficulty for beginners and occasional gamers, the game is not what it is advertised to be. Nevertheless if you like the challenge and accept the shortcomings, the game can be fun. A seven.
  5. Sep 24, 2010
    The game starts of really well with an interesting selection of cars and tracks, and fairly pleasant gameplay mechanics, but as the game progresses, it all goes down in flames. The first thing you'll notice is how great it looks. The cars look good, the tracks look good, and the light effects are spot-on. One of the best things about it is the **** view. In the slower classes you'll always drive from the inside view, but as things become more fast and demanding, you'll be forced to change to the bumper or bonnet view get a wider look over the track.
    You also get really cool visual effects every time you crash. The vision goes blurry and colourless, and you can even hear the driver painful sounds. It's funny at first, but it becomes boring really quick, and also a nuisance. If you slam against a wall, you want to get back on track as soon as possible, but you can't, because you can't see where you are supposed to go.

    As for driving, there's something here for everyone. You can have a lot of driver assists, to make your task easier, or you can turn everything off and go for the full simulation experience. I haven't played in the easy settings, but according to a friend of mine, the easy setting is "far to easy" compared to the normal setting.

    As for the simulation bit, is not that perfect. The physics engine is competent for the most part, but cars never have the right feel, specially in weight transitions. One of the elements to blame is the control pad. Using a gamepad, any little touch in the analog stick will cause the steering wheel to swerve ferociously. This game was most likely design for a steering wheel, but how many of us have them? Then there's the racing line. It shows red, but if you overshoot it, it will show green, even though you are still going too fast for that corner. Sometimes when you approach an open corner, the line shows a perfect green, so you keep your finger in the accelerator and follow the line, only to see the car understeering out of the track.

    Shift starts with huge tracks, and slow cars, and then it progresses for faster cars on much narrower tracks, with little room for mistake. So if you leave the track, and have to reverse to get back on, you risk being disqualified for driving in the wrong direction. The problem is that your opponents are either dumb or highly aggressive, so they keep pushing you out of the track.

    Also, as the cars become more and more powerful, you start loosing any driving feel still left. All cars feel like they are driving on butter instead of rubber. Where are the huge levels of grip provided by heavy downforce and very sticky tires? What was the point of upgrading the car?

    You can also personalize your cars with vinyl shapes, but because the editor is so poorly designed, you'll end up using the pre-made ones.

    Some cars allow you to give them a extra tune (called the Works conversion) after you buy every single part for it. At this point you are left wandering why should you buy any car that doesn't allow that conversion.

    Then there is the starting grid. I still don't know how the order in the starting grid is determined. There is no qualifying whatsoever, and even if you're driving the fastest car, you'll still be thrown in to the back of the pack. It's not really funny to start with a perfect launch just to discover that you are twice as fast off the line than anyone else, and with no place to go, you're stuck in a traffic jam.

    You'll have some variety up to the second tier of cars/races, but after that it's a bit repetitive. You have normal races, 2 car head-on, drift and time trials. Other than that, there are some variations (like endurance), but nothing more.

    I was very disappointed with this game, and being a huge fan of Forza, GT, Grid and GTR2, this game ended up as a bit of a black sheep. There's potential in this game engine, and maybe Shift 2 will be a great game, but this one? It's not quite up to the task.
  6. MPhillips
    Sep 28, 2009
    Nice graphics but terrible car handling ruin this game. I traded it in after four days I give up because its impossible, cars skid around as if the tires are made of banana skin and that's with traction control on ? Expand
  7. Jan 14, 2012
    This game set the benchmark for the WORST GAME EVER MADE. It was shipped incomplete, the controller deadzone was 20% making you feel like you're trying to keep an out-of-control schoolbus on the road, the game was frustrating and broken at best, nothing made any sense. JUST THINKING ABOUT THIS GAME MAKES ME MAD I WASTED MY LIFE PLAYING IT. never again EA ever. Expand

See all 44 User Reviews