About This Place

First started in late 2007, Kasey's Mobile Game Review (then just a regular feature of Kasey's Korner) started as a simul-post between here and IGN. Later I realized there's no reason to post it twice, when I can use the traffic on my own site. so, here we are, in 2010, and the mobile game industry has grown a bit. What do you think?

KMGR of Need for Speed: Shift

TOKYO - DECEMBER 05:  Actress Ryoko Yonekura a...Nissan GT-R  Image by Getty Images via Daylife

NFS: Shift is yet another game in the NFS franchise, and this one gets away from any sort of street racing and more inline with NFS: ProStreet, where all the racing are on sanctioned courses. However, NFS: ProStreet mobile was badly tuned and WAY too easy. The mobile version of NFS: Shift is much better, as it is based on the graphics engine that also powered the nicely rendered NFS: Undercover (mobile). The result is a pretty satisfying mobile racer with excellent visuals.

NFS: Shift starts you in the Mitsu Evo X, already in racing trim, and let you compete in the City and Sands Tour, the easiest out of three tours. Each tour consists of many races of various types. There are regular Circuit, ELimination (last place per lap is eliminated), Driver Duel, Drift, Time Attack, Battle, and so on. What is unique is there are MANY different levels of success... For each race, you can earn up to three GOLD stars for winning. Often, 1st place gets you 3 stars, or fastest time, and so on. Alternatively, you can also race for profile points by performing aggressive moves (like bumping, use a lot of nitro, etc.) as well as performing drifts. You can get up to two blue stars per event via profile points. What's more, they need not be done in the same race! (i.e. win in one race, get the blue stars in another) The criteria for stars are listed on the race event info screen as you decide to join the race or not (and in the "goal" choice when you're in the race). If you win all the gold stars (or enough stars equal to the number of gold stars) you win the tour's bronze trophy. If you win more, you get silver trophy. If you win ALL stars, you get the gold trophy. As there are THREE tours, each with 8 races, AND plenty of cars, this program is definitely NOT shallow.

To earn profile points you can either drift, or be aggressive. Drifting will be discussed a little later under controls. Being aggressive gets you lots of points, if you can time it well. The idea is perform multiple aggressive moves in short time span. For example, you sideswipe a car, and try to force it off the road. Then you hit nitro, overtake another car,and bump and sideswipe another car, then you hit nitro AGAIN, and hit yet another car. This chained events will get you a LOT of profile points, and thus, the blue stars, if you can do them fast enough. As tour difficulty goes up, so does the amount of points you need to qualify for the blue stars!

The car selection is good. You start in the Mitsu Evo X. You can use your winnings to buy 4 types of upgrades: aero, engine, suspension, and nitro. Each has 4 levels. As the cars get more expensive, so will the upgrades. Unfortunately, there are no numbers, as the upgrades are very "abstract". And money isn't exactly HARD to come by in this game, just play the race again. So you probably won't be able to afford every car that you really want, but that encourages long-term thinking. Cars are as follows: Mitsubishi Evo X, Nissan 370Z, Dodge Viper, BMW M3 GTR, Nissan GT-R (R35), Lambo Mucielago LP640-4, Ford GT, and Pagani Zonda F. Not too many, but that's a nice selection of fast cars to really fast cars to supercars.

As in most driving games on a mobile, your vehicle accelerates automatically. You have brakes, and nitro, and steering. As in NFS: ProStreet and NFS:Undercover, drift is initiated by pressing OK, then you use the steering controls to keey the little marker in the center as sort of a "balance act". If you let the marker dip into the red for too long on either side your car goes for a 360 spin and stops. And if you hit another car during a drift you will actually flip the car. But as there is no car damage in this game, you'll just be docked with a time penalty. (and the flip animation is clearly borrowed from NFS: ProStreet mobile). However, in order to simulate reality better, drafting is now possible. If you draft behind another vehicle, you'll go faster and possibly slingshot past that vehicle. It's definitely something important to think about when racing. Still, these cars handle extremely well... You don't really understeer in this game, unless you didn't react fast enough to a corner.

What's unique about NFS:Shift is the "driver profile". Your wins, losses, aggression, and precision driving are all recorded and affects your driver profile in a 2D "graph". It lets you know in an instant what is your game driving personality. What's more, basedon the profile you are given nicknames... An aggressive driver would be a "roughneck", while a precision driver would be "surgeon" and so on.

As stated before, the visuals are excellent. All the cars and courses are full 3D, and there's even a minimap in the upper-left corner (though most people would be too busy driving to even sneak a peek at it). Unfortunately, there are no 'ratings' to relative performance of the vehicles in question. Still money is quite easy to come by, esp. if you play an earlier tour with a souped up super-car. .

All in all, NFS:Shift is a deep racer with a lot of cars, lot of tours / tracks / event types, and ways to win. Combine it with excellent graphics, and it is an excellent racer for those who have a phone that can handle it. If you like mobile racing, get this game.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10 (!) HALL OF FAME!
Pros: excellent graphics, multiple event types, different levels of success
Cons: still the weird "drift" interface, some events feel very "deja vu", not really enough cars?
Verdict: the new benchmark in mobile racing games

Some tips for playing

* add NITRO ASAP, even if just one level. Camber and Nitro are the two things you should add ASAP. Camber helps you drift, and nitro helps add to the aggressiveness.

* the quickest way to score BIG points is 1) turn left or right into the other cars right at the start, then 2) hit nitro and plow into the back of one of the other cars, and STAY THERE, then 3) hit nitro again and repeat ramming the other car from behind. The prolonged and repeated contact should result in HUGE points for your aggression. I've scored SEVERAL THOUSAND profile points within 10 seconds of starting the race this way. In fact, this is the only way you'll earn those blue stars on some races.

* start drifting in the MIDDLE of the track. If you do it on the sides, you may brush the walls and cause a spin, which not only stops your drift points, it also means your opponents can catch up.

* It takes a moment for the drift points to start counting. So it's not worth the effort to drift around EVERY corner. Those 90 degree sharp turns should be taken at speed. The LONG shallow curves, on the other hand, should be drifted, as are combination curves. If you do it right, those should yield at least 1000 if not 2000 drift points each.

* drifting is NOT about speed, but control. However, going TOO slow will cause you to lose control. Still, experiment with your car and see how slow can you go to drift, and at what point you lose control of the vehicle. Once you've mastered that threshold, you should be able to maintain a drift around most corners, points or no points.

* as the game says, earn the gold stars first, then earn the blue stars in separate attempts.

* you don't need to own every car in the game. I think I only owned 2 when I won: the starter Lancer Evo X, then I made enough to go straight to Nissan GT-R, and from there I sold the Evo, then raced enough to buy the Pagani Zonda F. The upgrades come a little later.

* Replay each race as much as you want to win more money... if you place in the top three, that is.

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