A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Unlike previous games in the series, this is not a simulation of illegal street racing and features no criminal gangs or undercover police officers. Rather, the races are sanctioned and take place on closed courses. The goal is simply to become the best race car driver possible. You can, however, choose whether you want to race aggressively (by bumping into other cars) or with careful precision. Also, the game does not show the real impact of crashes, so kids could get the impression that crashes aren't all that serious.
Positive Role Models
The player has no visible avatar other than the car's nameless, expressionless driver. However, players are supported by an encouraging pit man who explains each race's objectives, offers advice for advancing through the game's various tiers, and often suggests prior to races that the player "be safe."
Ease of Play
The first thing players do is race a single practice lap the results of which are used to set a wide variety of difficulty settings, from opponent intelligence to whether or not anti-lock braking and electronic stability control systems are switched on. The computer does a pretty good job of judging a player's skill based on this one lap, but players can change these settings at any point to make the game as easy or hard as they like.
Violence & Scariness
Cars crash into each other and show damage via scraped paint and cracked windows. The player's driver may grunt during some of the more vicious impacts, but the game does not realistically depict the consequences of high-speed accidents.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Women who hold up signs before races show some cleavage and toned midriffs.
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Not an issue.
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Products & Purchases
Like most authentic racing simulators, this game is loaded with licensed cars (Nissan, Porsche, and BMW, among others). What's more, tracks and vehicles are lined with billboards and stickers advertising real world automotive brands, such as Hankook and Falken.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Not an issue.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this racing game, which features professional drivers on closed courses in sanctioned competitions, bears little resemblance to other recent entries in the Need for Speed franchise, which were all about illegal street racing. That means there are no gangs and no civilian traffic. However, like most racing simulators, players can choose to drive aggressively by bumping into competitors and pushing them off the track. Drivers are never injured in these scrapes, and the cars show only minor cosmetic damage. While that is good from the aspect of not seeing violence, it can also be a negative since it leaves the impression that agressive driving has no serious consequences. It's worth noting as well that consumerism plays a role via the game's licensed cars and in-game billboard advertising; and that the game has open chat for those playing online so kids may hear things that are inappropriate.
Is It Any Good?
Need for Speed: Shift's real-world tracks are diverse and beautifully realized, and its licensed cars look and sound just like their real-world counterparts. They handle splendidly, too. Players can choose whether to make the cars feel realistic or arcade-like by altering a huge variety of modifiers, from electronic stability control and anti-lock braking systems to tire grip and steering sensitivity -- and this is before even entering the upgrade or tuning modules.
But the most satisfying part of the game is its rewards system, which sees players earning performance badges, winning money, and gaining in driver levels after almost every race. Indeed, progression is so swift and noticeable throughout the game that it can be difficult to keep from playing "just one more race" to earn enough cash for your next car or upgrade. It's not quite as polished or epic as other racing simulators -- its collection of licensed cars is relatively low, and car damage appears more realistic in other games -- but Need for Speed: Shift is still a strong and welcome newcomer to a genre with only a few serious contenders.
Online interaction: This game supports open voice chat, which means that players could potentially run into others online who express language and ideas unsuitable for children.
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Our Editors Recommend
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