As for the car selection, there isn't an enormous list to choose from, but what EA did decide on is thankfully a very nice lot. There are also no numerous versions of the same damn car ala GranTurismo, so what is there is smartly chosen. You'll be driving things like the Nissan Skyline GT-R, Audi R8, Koenigsegg CCX, Pagani Zonda R, Bugatti Veyron and the McLaren F1. There are also a few iconic drifting choices like the Toyota Corolla GTS and the Nissan Silvia Spec-R Aero. Each of the cars are very nicely modelled both on the outside and the inside so visually the cars are as impressive as the roster itself. All in all, there are roughly 60 choices give or take a few with some unlockables that add to that number. 3 of my all time favorite supercars are on the roster, so this made me giggle with joy like a school girl. The only real glaring omission I noticed is the lack of anything from Ferrari. I'm not sure why they would do this, other then there being licencing issues. This is is quite annoying but forgiveable because of the simple fact that there is all kinds of goodness in the car lot as is....actually, who am I kidding, there is no excuse for omitting Ferrari.
When it comes to the tracks, there is a nice selection that is varied from all over the world. There are oval, technical and a mix of both. Laguna Seca, Silverston, SPA and Brands Hatch are a few examples of the more popular ones. The tracks are nicely detailed for the most part, with the trees being the only real exception. I find them looking flat, especially when in the distance. Aside from that, the tracks are well done overall. There is an issue of not being able to race tracks in the opposite direction. For some reason EA thought it was not necessary to give that option. I find that quite dumb, as it's not a difficult task to include that.
Sound has to be one of my favorite things in this game. It is well done and I mean very well done. None of that wimpy shit like some other titles. Depending on the car and its upgrades, each one will sound differently and much like it's real life counterpart. The best way to listen to these sounds is driving in the cockpit view as it enhances the experiance that much more. Of course having a proper set of speakers or headphones will make all the difference, so if youre still using $5 speakers or your Ipod earbuds then you're shit out of luck. Of course if you're playing on your tv then you most likely won't have that problem. What is essential though is a good quality sub with a decent low range for best results. Your ears will bleed with joy.
Best way to get through your driver levels fast is to learn how to drift. Once you have that mastered you will literally level up after each drift race you enter, depending on the track and number of laps you decide on. Once you have that figured out, you will be unlocking new rims, vinyls, invitational events, garage slots and earning major sponsorship cash faster then anything. Overall, the gameplay is quite fun with lots to do and keep track of. I never found myself bored, especially during the drift and car duels which never get old.
Now, everything I've said so far makes this to be a very solid game all around with a few minor issues. That is not so unfortunately, as SHIFTs biggest downfall is its performance issues. Apparently EA and ATI hate eachother, or so it would seem based on the craptacular performance their cards are experiencing. I don't understand why there couldn't have been more optimizing done on ATIs cards. Nvidia users seem to have few issues for the most part, but ATI cards struggle really hard pushing 30fps, and not just at the higher resolutions, but the lower ones as well. I've experienced the same problems where I'd get no more then 37fps at any one time. And enabling AA? Forget about it. I've managed to run the game at around 32fps on average at 1920x1200 with maxed settings and 4xAF and 0xAA. I'm running it on a i7 920, 3gigs of ram, and an overclocked HD4830, so I should be getting a lot better results based on comparable Nvidia cards that have AA enabled. Changing any of the other graphical settings makes little to no difference, but once AA is on you might as well turn off the game and wait for a patch. This is bloody stupid and hopefully a fix is being worked on by ATI/EA. People have also reported random crashes; one of which I have experienced myself. It is also graphics related as it makes the game crash at 8xAA.
Other then graphical issues, there are a few dumb design issues, such as the mouseless menu navigation and not being able to choose from the different manufacturer colors when purchasing your car. You're basically stuck with whatever stock color the car is shown in. You can make your own colors once you buy the car, but being able to choose from different stock colors is a good thing. There is only an option for choosing different stock colors in the quick race option. Now, how hard can it be to do the same for the career mode, huh?! Small problem yea, but a stupid one nontheless. Also, the whole no mouse nav is quite retarded and until recently only CAPCOM have done the same stupid shit in that respect. Another thing that is annoying is not being able to quick view your car with the applied upgrades by spinning the car with your mouse, but I guess this comes back to that idiotic mouse issue in the first place. Instead you have to wait for the car to spin itself around in slow motion. There is also the issue of not being able to mirror your vinyls from one side of the car to the other in unison. That's another thing that makes absolutely no sense to me. This pretty much made me keep my distance from making my own vinyl combos and instead stick to the pre made ones. The final issue is the loading times; they're LEGEN...wait for it....DARY, LEGENDARY! And that's not a good thing. At 40secs, they're not exactly short. So basically SHIFT is a great game plagued by the 'too fast out of the factory' syndrome, which brings it down a notch into the 'would have been a great game, but...' category.