Everyone reading this review will have played a Need For Speed game on the PC at one time or another. It has been one of the most successful franchises for Electronic Arts over the years and has generated millions of dollars. Need for Speed Shift has been on the iPhone for quite some time and today we are looking at the iPad version which has been on the store now for a while.
Before you say “bleh, not another crappy portable racing game” and close the page, let me just say, Need For Speed Shift on the iPad is spectacular. With the bigger screen and the faster A4 processor it really comes to life with the new Apple handheld.
NFS Shift on the iPad is a series of races across four cities which include my old favourite Toyko. As before there are many styles of play, from drift races to elimination contents which means that the last car across the line throughout a series of laps is removed from the race until one winner is left standing (or driving as the case may be).
Graphically, the game has never looked better and while it is basically just a remake of the 2009 iPhone game it really does look fantastic on the larger LED Apple panel. The frame rate is also noticeably improved thanks to the more up to date hardware in the iPad.
The car models have been enhanced and the backdrop environments have also been given a makeover although low resolution textures can be noticed on some of the buildings and objects. The car modeling really is impressive and you have various camera angles to view them from. My favourite is the ‘in the cockpit’ mode which makes it all just feel more immersive.
The gameplay elements are intuitive and addictive, you steer the car by tilting the iPad left and right and acceleration and braking is handled automatically, on the default setting. Higher skill levels offer up manual pedals on either side of the screen which adds a extra layer of difficulty to the proceedings. You can ‘drift’ around corners by snapping the iPad in the same motion as the corner, you earn points for this in drift specific races.
You get scored on two areas; aggression and precision. Aggression is awarded for rough overtakes and ramming into the opponents cars while precision is given for perfect turns and adhering to the race lines. When you reach a certain point based area then the racer levels up, which brings in a fresh, almost RPG style element of game play. Races can also be replayed to earn more points, and its a sure way to earn a lot of money.
As with all Need For Speed games this money is used well … EA offer a wealth of options for buying new cars, as well as upgrading your own, both on a performance level as well as aesthetically, such as changing the paint work or swapping over wheel rims. Upgrading cars is a sure way to become competitive in races you were struggling with – the higher level engines in the expensive cars really drive your victories home without having to struggle just so hard. If you don’t have enough cash then you can upgrade the acceleration, the handling, tyres and even add various levels of nitrous.
Multiplayer is catered for strictly with local support. There are many race options for you and a buddy to enjoy, and they work great.
The only downside is the asking price, many people find the price of iPad games very cost effective, but this one will sting your wallet a little. $14.99 in the USA and £7.49 in the UK is at the higher end of the scale. All in all however it is impossible NOT to recommend and it is without a doubt the best racing game right now for the iPad. The potential of this handheld device is just beginning to show. We can’t wait for future ventures from Electronic Arts, they have the resources and the ability to really push this platform to the limits.