When it comes to racing games, and flying games for that matter, there's a huge divide as to what everyone wants in terms of realism and gameplay. The gap between arcade and simulator is a pretty big one and it's a rare game indeed that manages to appeal to both the casual gamer and hard core simulator fan.
With respect to the Need for Speed franchise, the whole 'Fast and Furious' worshiping culture has been getting a little long in the tooth recently with several previous titles not proving too popular. So, when we learnt that EA Games had another Need for Speed game we assumed it was going to include something along the lines of tongue in cheek realism and, well we were pretty underwhelmed to be honest.
Our first thoughts were along the lines of 'oh no not yet another boring, flashy, hyped up arcade racing game bursting with skimpily clad models and RnB?' However, having then learnt that Need for Speed: Shift was actually an attempt at a more realistic experience with the guys behind titles such as GTR and GT Legends on board too things suddenly sounded much more interesting.
Luckily we had the chance to speak to Andy Tudor, Shift's lead designer prior to writing this review and the explanation was quite simple. Shift is aptly named not just because it's an appropriate term for a racing game but more importantly it represents a shift in gameplay and developer from previous NFS titles. That shift is towards a more realistic and hopefully more engaging game that's an evolution of ProStreet but seeks to distance itself from more arcade titles such as Carbon and Most Wanted. In short this is new ground with plenty of new features thrown in, not to mention over 70 drivable, customisable cars with practically everything from the Mazda RX-8 to the Bugatti Veyron.
Screenshots and video teasers we've seen so far look and sound great too but is this really a Race Driver: GRID beater? Read on to see what we thought of it.