|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PC, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Bright Light||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 12, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Aside from the normal race types you'd expect in a racing game, Shift also features showdown races. As you move up in the rankings, you'll have real-life race car drivers who you're competing against. Beat them enough times and they'll challenge you to a one-on-one showdown. Shift does a great job of making you actually care that there are race pros you're competing against. Once in a while, during a race, if there's an especially tense moment, the action will pause and the camera will zoom ahead to focus on the racer in front of you and remind you of whom you're racing against. For example, this might happen if you finally overtake the 2nd place racer with half a lap left to go, the camera will flash forward to put a name and a face to the car that will be trying desperately to keep you from winning. It's a great effect.
Above all else, driving competitively in Shift is just plain fun. Races are fast and visceral, and you really feel a sense of accomplishment when winning a race. Because the races get tough, with some taking multiple tries to get through, by only the second or third stage of difficulty, you'll find yourself having to challenge the way you race and adapt to new styles in order to achieve victory.
Given that Shift ups the difficulty in the later levels, you'll definitely get a good amount of racing for your dollar with this game. If you play every race to completion, you'll get hours upon hours of racing for your portable needs, and if you play until you get first in every event, you'll have plenty to do in this game for at least 15-20 hours.
Despite a few missteps, Shift PSP impressed me on just about every level. It may not have much in common with the console version, but it serves as a great complement. It's a great game in its own right - independent of the console version - and designed under its own rules.
Though most PSP owners will pass this game up, as this holiday it will be hidden in the shadow of that other PSP racer Gran Turismo, Shift is different enough and good enough to warrant a purchase right alongside that PSP classic.
If it's fast-paced racing you crave, and you don't care about adjusting every nut and bolt on your car, then Shift is an excellent game that exceeds expectations in all areas. It would have been easy for EA to work up a slapdash product, put the Shift logo on it, and use the quality of the console version to sell it. But instead they've released a product that warrants a place in every PSP owners collection right next to the system's classics like Burnout Legends and Gran Turismo.
CCC Freelance Writer