Sunday, 7 June 2009

E3 2009 round-up part 1 – Need For Speed: Shift

For those who are avid gamers such as myself who follow what goes on in the gaming world, you will probably have seen all the news that has filtered out of the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3 for short. The racing genre was well represented and I shall reel off the 3 big titles that got revealed and reported on at this year’s show.

Need For Speed: Shift (EA)

EA’s NFS series was well represented by it’s new flagship game simply called Shift. It’s supposed to focus more on the driving experience and the reality of it. One feature they have done is worked on in-car views. By making it as realistic as they can, in a way it helps you believe you really are at the wheel of a Porsche or Lamborghini. The camera shakes as the car goes over bumps, turns to focus on apexes and corners and goes completely mental when you have a crash. On impact, all colour drains out of your in-game vision for a moment, the camera violently shakes and everything goes blurry before readjusting. What this does is help simulate the feeling and experience that is a car crash. Not that you’d ever really want to in real life, that is.

They have also introduced a brand new Driver Profile system, which awards points depending on how you drive. Clean drivers get scored for clean passes, brilliant cornering and achieving top speeds on straights, while those who prefer to bump and grind with other cars will get points on collisions with other cars and also with the barriers. Basically – dirty driving. This all counts towards a profile which can be viewed by anyone around the world and shows off what kind of a driver you actually are. Now let’s face it – this game won’t lie, so if you decide the best way to get past someone is to ram them off the road, your profile will reflect that and it’s more than likely you’ll only attract similar drivers. You have been warned!

So let’s get on the important matter of cars and tracks. The headlining vehicle seems to be the all-new BMW M3 GT2 which runs in the ALMS under Rahal Letterman Racing. A stunning looking car with a transmission that screams as though it’s just been castrated means this is one fierce machine. Other cars of note include the Lambo Reventon, Pagani Zonda R, Bugatti Veyron and Audi R8 GT3. Course-wise, the mighty Nurburgring Nordschleife makes its NFS debut, along with Brands Hatch, Silverstone, Road America, Spa and other real world circuits, with street tracks in London and Tokyo providing an urban challenge.

Visually it’s not as stunning as the other two games I’ll be talking about, but in terms of a driving/racing experience it probably looks like the best of the 3. The level of immersion which the in-car view seems to give will make drivers believe they are there in the car clipping an apex or rubbing door handles with a Supra or Nissan GT-R. The profile system will mean we get to see who are race winners and who are race ruiners and with a rather impressive line-up of locations and machines, this might just be a racer that gets your blood pumping should total simulation not really be your thing. It’s out in September on the 360, PS3 and PC. One game I definately like the look of and will be purchasing.