Need for Speed: Shift (2009, Nearly Undrivable Circuit Racing Game, 360) – 3/10 game review

Cast / crew

Need for Speed 13 Need for Speed: Shift (2009)

Track-based circuit racing.


This is unquestionably the worst gamepad driving experience ever delivered by a major console driving game, simulation-biased or not (the demos seem to drive differently to the full game). What is truly amazing about this is that none of the contemporary reviews ever highlighted it. IGN’s walkthrough for the game tells you but the review (a mind-boggling 8.7-9.0) does not (it does contain a passing remark that it is a ‘none-too-small task just keeping the car on the road’; 9.0 I remind you). The game is almost unplayable with the default settings and the menu that allows you to manhandle the controller into actually giving you a degree of control is easy to miss. Because the core driving experience with a gamepad is so atrocious, it doesn’t matter that the game looks good (aside from horrid texture filtering most apparent, sadly, on vinyl-laden cars), sounds good, features an excellent cockpit view, a ferocious sense of danger, an enticing badge reward system, a few unusual circuits and some tenacious AI opponents who even move over when being lapped. All-in-all then, a worthy successor to Need for Speed: PooStreet. If only there was some such pun for Shift.



The most critical thing is controller settings. Though it seems impossible to get a decent setup, this is what I settled on. The menu you’re looking for is Options then Gameplay then Adjust Control.

  • Steering Dead Zone: 15%

  • Accelerator Dead Zone: 10%

  • Brake Dead Zone: 10%

  • Steering Sensitivity: 5%

  • Acceleration Sensitivity: 25%

  • Braking Sensitivity: 25%

  • Speed Steering Sensitivity: 100%

Next go to the Driving menu (also under Options then Gameplay).

  • AI Difficulty: Easy (it seems to be ignored for Driver Duels, by the way)

  • Handling Model: Normal

  • Steering Assist: Off

  • Braking Assist: Off

  • Anti-Lock Brakes: On

  • Traction Control: High

  • Stability Control: Off (otherwise both you and the computer try to correct slides)

  • Damage Effects: Visual Only

For each car you buy, go to the Quick Tuning menu and set Steering to 40-45%. This just seems to take the edge off the oversteer.

Nice Cars

I found the following cars really nice to drive; quite predictable and controllable, almost fun.

  • 1967 Shelby GT-500

  • Mercedes-Benz SLR 722 Edition

  • Pagani Zonda R

The ‘Batmobile’

The fastest car in the game is the Lamborghini Murciélago LP640 (so save up and buy that as soon as possible) but one of it’s other brilliant advantages is that you can simply drive through other cars. Accelerate up behind them, keep accelerating into them and their car will get scooped up and flung into the air.

Driver duels

Find a ‘batmobile’ car that can scoop and tip the other guy out and get five seconds in the lead. Trying to beat him legitimately can be an exercise in frustration.

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