Shift ::: Updated Impressions from IGN (ENG)

July 20, 2009Chris Roper and his impressions from full PS3 version of Need For Speed Shift.

EA has been constantly changing the focus and overall design of its Need for Speed series for years now, with some efforts obviously better than others. When the franchise had seemed to begin to lose its way in recent years, EA handed over the reins to Slightly Mad Studios, a studio formed by the core guys behind the great GTR racing series on the PC. The result is that what we've seen so far of Need for Speed Shift is the most realistic, engrossing and, most importantly, fun NFS title in quite some time.

I had first seen the game back in March and then got an updated and more in-depth look at it at this year's E3. However, E3 is not the sort of place to really dive into things like a deep career mode, so EA stopped by recently to give me a better look at what seems to be a very promising career progression.

Now, as this is a Need for Speed title, it needs to be designed to cater to a rather wide audience, including people who are newcomers to racing as well as veterans alike. And given that this title is a little more simulation heavy than past efforts, Slightly Mad needed to do something unique to get people set up and going right off the bat at a level appropriate for them. Enter the orientation lap.

When you first start the game, you'll only have two choices: Start Career and Options. Choosing Start Career immediately puts you behind the wheel of a BMW M3 with all assists turned off for a solo lap at Brands Hatch. After you finish the lap, the game then shows you what sort of difficulty options it suggests for you. This includes settings like ABS, traction control, stability control, damage, the transmission type, AI level and so forth. You can go ahead and change any of these things if you like, but the idea is that it should give you a great starting spot for your ability. When I did my lap, it perfectly nailed the settings that I would have set myself (no steering or braking assist, ABS on, traction control on low, medium AI, etc.). Very cool stuff here if it can indeed nail other folks' preferences like it did mine.

After you complete this orientation lap, you're then put in a two lap race on the same course, and your finishing position will determine how much cash you get to start your career with, ranging from $25k to $35k. You have the option to retry the race as many times as you'd like to get an easier start to your career. After this, then everything else opens up, including the Quick Race and online options.

This accessibility extends beyond this first tryout lap. You will of course have a ton of tuning options for your rides, but there are also macro level options that'll help adjust things for you. So if you don't want to go in and modify your tire pressure and spring rate just to affect your overall handling, you can jump up a level to something that'll modify these for you automatically with a single, easy to use slider. Of course, you can also use these macro options to tune it from a top level and then dig in to fine-tune your settings if you'd like.

As there are multiple event types to partake in (which I'll come back to in a second), and since cars are restricted on a tiered basis (i.e. a Tier 4 supercar can't compete in Tier 1 events against normal everyday cars), you'll want to choose which rides you purchase and put money into carefully. Some cars will be suitable for drift events, for instance, while others wouldn't be. Likewise, some cars can be tweaked extensively enough to allow them to qualify for events late in the game, while others are more grounded. So, it's possible that while you could continue to purchase new cars to keep up with the competition, you could also just pour money into your starter vehicle and have it race fairly against the big boys late in the game.

As far as the progression and whatnot goes, as I had talked about in my E3 impressions (note S1k0man — you can read it on our site, by following the link -=-IGN E3 Preview-=- ), you earn stars for your finishing place, reaching point milestones in a race and completing race-specific objectives. These go to raise your tier level and unlock new events. You also earn separate driver points for mastering corners, performing overtakes and all of these sorts of on-track accomplishments, and these go to unlock more specific events, parts and even cars.

As far as the tier-based events go, each level has a series of different event types to partake in. In the first tier, for instance, there are standard races, manufacturer races (where you're put into a car and race against the AI in the exact same model) and time trials. Each of these "sets" have star requirements that you have to earn before entering. So in the first tier, you can just jump right into the standard races, but you'll need to earn ten stars before you can compete in the manufacturer races and 20 before you can take on the time trials.

Continuing in the same fashion, the second tier also offers up car battles (one-on-one races between classic rivals, like a Camaro versus a Challenger), mixed events (perhaps a standard race, a drift event and a time trial all in one overall event) and drift events.

What's cool here is that the game looks to use both the constant point and star earning along with the event variation to create a setup that is always offering something different to do while also stringing you along with a multi-faceted experience point system. It's the kind of setup that makes games like World of WarCraft addicting, and now EA and Slightly Mad Studios are trying to bring that to racing. If it works, I'll be stuck in front of the TV for hours and hours on end, often finding myself saying things like, "It's 5am already?"

Now, an updated impressions piece of Need for Speed Shift wouldn't be complete without a little hands-on time, and fortunately I was able to take a couple cars around the track for a few laps. One was the BMW M3 I spoke of earlier, and another was a Honda Civic Si that we ended up purchasing with the cash I won in the opening event. I drive a 2007 Civic Si coupe to work every day, so this made for a pretty easy real life comparison for me.

Does the Shift version of the Si feel like the same one that I've been driving since late 2006? Not exactly, and I would even say that the version of it from Forza 2 (via DLC) that I had driven only days prior felt more realistic. However, no game that I've played to date has handled the interior driving experience as well as Need for Speed Shift does (with only the last couple PGR games coming even close in my opinion, though Dirt and Grid were good as well), so even though it doesn't feel 100% accurate, it's still really fun to drive. The game certainly has its own unique feel, where the cars perhaps feel a little more loose and squirrely than more hardcore sim racers like Gran Turismo and Forza, but that doesn't mean that it isn't fun by any stretch of the word.

I'm personally very much looking forward to finally getting my hands on Shift. What I've played so far has been fun with a fantastic in-car experience, and if the career mode strings me along like it promises to, then I'll be hooked.

Страница создана: S1k0man, 25 июля 2009 г. 0:16
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