Things have shifted for the better in the world of iPhone car racing games. Need for Speed Shift from EA Sports brings the exciting world of NFS to your Apple handheld, and soon to be released iPad. The feeling of the game is something that you have to experience for yourself on an iPhone or iPad to know how it feels, as it can’t be described. But for the sake of this review, I’ll try and put it into words as best as I can.
Most racing games on the iPhone have done a good job of encapsulating a 3D feel, combined with using accelerometer based controls to create the feeling that you’re driving a car. Among the previous great car racing games are Fast and Furious The Game, Asphalt 5, Real Racing and Fastlane Street Racing. Now EA has taken things to the next level with an almost perfect driving version of Need for Speed, that puts the focus back on driving, and removes game-like features such as cop chases.
Handling and controls in NFS Shift are so good that you sometimes forget you’re holding an iPhone, and get lost in the game. Handling the car has an almost too real feeling, thanks to the few helper features such as Steering Assist, Auto Brake, Auto Transmission, and Racing Lines. You can gradually disable these features one by one as you move from Rookie mode towards Custom mode. You can customize the controls by adjusting the tilt sensitivity.
The game is played in landscape mode as you turn the iPhone left and right to steer the car. There is no accelerator pad in NFS Shift. Tapping anywhere on the screen activates the brakes, and brake lights. In manual transmission mode you can shift up by dragging up on the screen, and shift down by dragging down, from 1st to 6th gear. If you feel aggressive and confident, you can actually get some pretty good control on your turns, speed and drifting skills in manual mode. You won’t find a pause button in the game, just swipe down with 2 fingers to take a break.
As you crash into other cars or railings, you see scratched damage on your windshield and blurred vision when you’re in Cockpit mode. In this mode you also see the driver hands on the steering wheel and a transparent Head-up Display (HUD) on the left side of the dash. Tapping the camera icon lets you swap between all 4 camera angles.
There are 28 events including Circuit race, Sprint, Driver Duel, Eliminator, Time Trial and Drift, 20 licensed car models, 20 hit audio tracks, and you can race in quick mode, career mode or Wi-Fi and Bluetooth multiplayer mode (not online). The ultimate goal is to race in all cities (Chicago, London & Tokyo) and all 18 types of tracks and unlock all 20 cars.
Most of your time will be spent in career mode as you try and improve your level by racking up stars and driver points which are in turn made up of precision and aggression points. This is a great feature of NFS Shift in that although wins and losses count, they are not everything. You just try to build your driver profile by doing your best as your skills improve. Use money earned to build up your cars performance (acceleration, shocks, boost) and enhance visuals of your cars in My Cars. From here you can also take a 360° tour of your cars, buy and sell, and upgrade them.
Some of the metrics used to score your races are: Lead for an entire lap, beat the lap record, and cash earned.
Your driver profile and badges awarded are:
Precision: Best Line, Clean Sector, Clean Overtake, Corner Mastered
Aggression: High Speed, Slipstream, Knockout, Block, Drift, Dirty Overtake
Badges: Clean Race Master, Corner Master, Racing Line Master, Drift Master, All Star and more.
Here is the full list of cars available in Need For Speed Shift on the iPhone:
– Volkswagen Golf GTI
– Mazda RX-8
– Mitsubishi Lancer EVOLUTION
– Subaru Impreza WRX STI
– Porsche Cayman S
– BMW M3 GT2
– Nissan 370Z (Z34)
– Nissan Skyline GT-R (R34)
– Dodge Challenger Concept
– Ford Shelby GT500
– Audi R8 4.2 FSI quattro
– Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG
– Chevrolet Corvette Z06
– Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4
– Ford GT
– Porsche 911 GT2
– Lamborghini Murciélago LP640
– Pagani Zonda F
– Aston Martin Racing DBR9
– Maserati MC12 GT1
Overall Need for Speed Shift is probably the most realistic racing simulation game on the iPhone today, featuring cutting edge OpenGL ES 2.0 integrated graphics and advanced physics based controls. The new iPad will be getting an upgraded version of NFS Shift as demoed by Apple this week. For now you can play this award winning game on your iPhone 3GS and push your device to its limits with heart pounding speed.
Here is the sneak peak video of Need for Speed Shift on the iPad. You will notice with the large screen, the iPad version will have a visual manual stick shift, side rear view mirrors, rearranged buttons and HUD on the screen, and you can tap on the car to change camera angles.
Here is a video demo of the Need for Speed Shift app on the iPhone
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