Wilde Ride - Not Gentle
Generally - I really like Need for Speed : Shift. Nothing in racing games was ever so exciting than 16x Bugatti Veyron 16.4 racing down the Nordschleife (Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Invitational). Quite frankly, it might be too exciting. The extreme sense of speed, the unforgiving, volatile driving physics, the very aggressive AI and the lack of a rewind function turn one single lap (7min+) on the Nordschleife into living hell. Well - that's what I wanted. That's what I got.
Need for Speed : Shift is hardcore. To the bone. If you are into sim-racing, got the balls to switch off all (or most) assists and start driving supercars on high speed and high difficulty tracks against 15 relentless, extremely competetive and aggressive AI opponents (I set my game at medium difficulty AI), which are more likely to be devil's own breed, for all the vileness they will send your way - you are in for one hell of a ride. If that's what you want from a racing game, then look no further than Need for Speed : Shift. In other words, if you got the stomach for it, Shift might be your kind of game...
I love the events with other cars on the track. They are extremely exciting, especially because of the great sense of speed and immersion out of the cockpit view and the extremely aggressive, engaging AI. This may cause some frustration though, because there is no rewind function to undo their mischief. The lack of this functionality may cause you to bite your pad. Very oldschool and very frustrating. The driving physics are unforgiving and very volatile (with assist turned off). It's like riding a wild horse at times. A constant struggle to keep the car in line. It takes rough action and finesse alike, to tame the beasts of Shift. This cars ain't neutered for easy access. They're raw and wild. It takes a lot of work to tame them. Almost too much for my work taste.
Need for Speed : Shift is clearly a lot more sim than GRID or PGR 3 & 4. It even seems more sim than Forza or Gran Tourismo - less gentle in any case. I'm not yet sure, if I like it. The AI drivers all act like hateful assholes (on medium AI settings). They block me, they push me off the road, they spin me out - in short, they fuck with me all the time. It's the first time in a racing game, that I'd rather have the dumb, yet gentle AI of a Gran Tourismo, than this bunch of evil douchebags. They are quite entertaining though, since they fuck each other up too. It's an exciting AI to drive against. But extremely frustrating. A rewind function would do wonders to counter-balance the killer AI. In any case, it's the best AI I've seen in a racing game this far. Very believable. Like driving against real human assholes online.
Need for Speed : Shift is the least gentle console sim-racer to date... for better and worse.