Great but at a price.
After that silly attempt to be a simuation, Shift, instead of what the series has always been about, its great to see that the series can still be fun. Even better is that they left out the cheesy flat chested nobody FMV. However, the game does cheat and cheat all the time. They do this so every race, every pursuit is intense and a fight to the last mile. And I really mean last mile because at that point, the AI will stop cheating. I have to admit that in this game, the cheating does seem to benefit more then cheapen the experience. You will never say that the game is cheating to win which would make you go all rage quit. You will say BS when you see a just crashed car come flying up behind you or that the shortcut you just used didn't put you ahead at all. That will explain why 9/10 times you use a shortcut, you won't gain any lead. There are some shortcuts that aren't meant to be an advantage but those are easy to spot and avoid.
The visuals are great and the sound of the cars are thrilling. I turned off the music as it just didn't fit this game. The weather effects were quite nice but the spray off the tires during rain looked like smoke instead of a water spray. I believe they could've done that better. The sense of speed is top notch and you'll be grinning as you fly down the highway. But, then you'll clip a car that you wasn't near. In point, the game has some hit detection issues. I would have loved instant replay like the one in Madden to prove it but they left that feature out. The controls seem a bit heavy at the start but once you get used to it and the drifting style, you won't have much trouble.
The different events that you do like race, time trial, duel, hot pursuit, and gauntlet are real nice but I wonder why the cop portion makes you chase after a car that can turn around and do whatever during a time limit yet there is nothing like that for the racer. I would have loved to ditch the cops for 5 minutes. I also thought there was too many time trial events, I want to race!
I don't know if I missed the option but the wrecking cutscenes or the cop cutscenes got very old. I don't care what the cops are driving as they'll perform the same anyway.
I really hope that they build off this game and add more types of events and more locations. There is a reason why this game is getting the nod for the best racer of the year because it is. Its a thrilling game for sure.