Yes, yes, another Need For Speed. But trust me when I say that this one looks very different from the rest. A big part of that is undoubtedly due to the fact that the studio has dedicated themselves to making Shift a game that they believe will please both fans of realistic racers like Gran Turismo and fans of the more over-the-top racing franchises, like Burnout. That is no easy task, and it is very seldom that such a game greatly appealing to both crowds comes along.
In any case, Need For Speed is shaping up to be a very authentic game. The game’s Artificial Intelligence could almost be described as break-through, as other computer-controlled racers in the game will make constant mistakes on the track and slowly learn, just as a human player would. In fact, they even have what the designers called “personalities”. When under stress (such as after being struck by another car or left in the dust by several cars) the non-player racer will become nervous, making more mistakes and rasher decisions. At first, it may seem that this would make the game much more simple and easy, but what it ultimately means is that your opponents will be much more reactive than in past racing games. If you ram another racer’s car, he will be quite likely to get upset and nudge you back.
Speaking of past racing games, for a long time now the Need For Speed series has allowed players to customize the external look of their car. In Shift, however, you will also be able to customize the internal look of your car. And that brings a lot more to the table than you might think. When you play this game in the first-person cockpit view, you will soon notice that the entire inside is fully rendered in 3D. That is the real benefit of playing from the cockpit perspective; it’s very immersing. As in real life on the track, when you brake you fly forward in your seat, and when you accelerate you’re pulled back against the seat. It’s subtle details like these that impressed players at this year’s E3.
EA Games will be releasing Need For Speed: Shift on the PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and Playstation Portable (PSP) on September 22, 2009.