Need for Speed: Shift Attempts to Drive Away With My Cash

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Need for Speed: Shift Attempts to Drive Away With My Cash

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Racing is all about dollars. Generally the boys with the fanciest engines and the most expensive drivers are going to run away with the field. In that light, it's almost fitting that EA would go to such great lengths to emulate that concept with Need for Speed: Shift.

Let me bring you up to speed: Last night I got home after a day of partying in celebration of my twenty sixth birthday. I was in a great mood. I'd had delicious bacon, pretty girls and surprisingly good weather all day and now I was cracking into the newly-sent-to-me Need for Speed: Shift.

Now I'll admit, I'm a terrible race car driver. Doubly so when it comes to these "simulations." If you set me atop a hairpin turn I'm more likely to ride the wall into a flaming pile of wreckage than actually make it to the bottom. But, I love the "concept" of these games. I like the feeling of being a fancy British fellow strapped into a $100,000 land-based rocket and trying, however futilely, to out-maneuver a group of similarly rocket-equipped lads. Hence, I own all the Gran Turismos, all the Forzas, and I've been looking forward to Need for Speed: Shift for quite a while.

On starting the game my hopes were seemingly justified. The game is truly gorgeous, besting Forza 2's industry-leading racing simulation graphics and infusing them with a slick, urban yet erudite aesthetic that perfectly fits the world of high-class racing promised by the game. The soundtrack is packed with a great blend of indie and electronic bands, and everything just "feels" right, from the stylized menus to the almost dour British announcer offering tips on how to properly apply braking pressure and not snap your virtual neck while whipping through a no-doubt legendary road course that I'd never heard of.

Immediately after firing the game up, Shift puts you behind the wheel of a stylish BMW and asks you to run a test lap so the computer can gauge just how skilled you are. This first lap is designed so the game knows how to calibrate the game's difficulty level to your own personal skill. It's a neat trick and once the first level was complete the game assigned me a pretty appropriate level of difficulty.

That being determined, the game decided I had to earn some cash to afford an actual car of my own. Using the same BMW I'd so recently smashed to bits in an attempt to explain to the game that I'm the racing world's equivalent of a handicapped meerkat, I lined up against six other racers, most of whom I imagined laughing at me underneath their perfectly detailed racing helmets. Two minutes later we'd completed the game's first race and it was time to see how much cash I'd earned toward my first car.

Like I mentioned, I'm terrible at this kind of thing, so I wasn't entirely shocked to see I'd placed last. Glancing through the list of cars I wasn't entirely shocked to see that I couldn't afford a single one. I was however, a bit shocked when the game offered me the option of shelling out Microsoft Points for any of the cars on display. The prices weren't exorbitant, but this was the first time a game had ever offered me the chance to shell out real cash for something I would otherwise be expected to earn through in-game skill. Not wanting to spend the admittedly meager 50 cents just to advance, I scrolled through the available menu screens in an effort to try that last race again. I now had the feel of the game down, so I imagined I would have to do better than before.

Only there is no option to restart that first race. I scanned the screen, pressed every button available and scrolled with all my might, and yet Shift refused to give me a second chance at earning cash for a car. Without the cash I couldn't advance to any other events unless I wanted to drop real-world money for a virtual Audi, and as a matter of pride I simply refused to fork over any amount of money just to play the actual game. Ten more minutes of frustrated searching and I decided to restart my system, resetting all my progress and earning another shot at the podium.

My next attempt went much better. With a handle on how the game's physics model works I managed to snag a first place win on that crucial race and earned enough cash to afford a relatively lame Audi S3. Eventually I'd upgrade to a jet black Audi TT 3.2 Quattro -- that I've nicknamed "Death Machine" -- but the initial sting of Shift's attempt to wedge itself into my pocketbook has stuck in my mind.

A few moments ago I tried to replicate my initial experience and found that my rage is a bit premature. It looks like the game itself won't force you to spend cash for that first car, but if you land in last place as I did you have to scroll through a dozen vehicles before you find the one or two clunkers you can actually purchase with your meager winnings. This could be explained away by saying the cars are displayed in alphabetical order, but if I'm sitting here baffled by the system enough to want to write all these words on the topic of my outrage, how many other, less savvy gamers are going to find themselves angered by a game that seemingly offers no recourse for failure?

Some may prefer Shift's system. There's a convenience level built-in for those gamers who simply want to dive into the game, buy a $600,000 Lamborghini (for $3), and immediately take on a track full of similarly equipped online gamers. I'm fine with that. Offering that as an option is perfectly legit, and while I won't ever spend real cash on a faux car that doesn't come equipped with rockets and speak in the soothing voice of William Daniels, I can understand why some people might want to.

It should however, remain an optional device. No one should be forced to spend extra cash to simply play a game they've already paid $60 for. The optimistic side of me would like to think we aren't headed toward a future where the gamer with the biggest pocketbook will always have the best of everything, but Shift is further evidence that in gaming, as in all things, money makes the world go round.

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That's pure business evil right there.

It's also in NFS: Undercover, the ability to use MS Points to buy vehicles + upgrades.

Although I only just got Undercover, so it might not have been part of the original product, might have been an update from XBL.

While Im a huge fan of games that test your skill to set the difficulty level, I wonder if that loss was meant to happen so you have to spend your money on a real car. It sounds like the kind of thing EA are good for

the fact is, if you couldnt beat the first race in the third most powerful car in the game (the Bugatti Veyron is second, with first going to the SSX Aero), there isnt even a point to play.

that BMW has been in every NFS:Underground series game so far, and has a fucking aircraft wing in Most Wanted and Carbon

It's both (evil) genius and cheap.

Also I hate that BMW.

I hate it so much that I sold it once I finished Most Wanted. I just sold the damn thing because it sucked and looked like something only a primate would drive.

...On second though scrap that, it's an offense to all primates of this world.

That sickens me.

See, I really like Need For Speed. I do. It's so-bad-it's-good, it's campy and it has the kind of storylines that would make the writers of The Fast and the Furious be ashamed.

That said, that's fucking, fucking cheap. Has gaming become that much of a race for money that you're given the option to replace actual skill-earnt stuff with real world cash? I mean, damn! Every Need For Speed I've played since Hot Pursuit has at least given you a shitty starting car so you can work up! Buying a car with real-world cash just... Wow. Wow.

Now I'm wondering how much cash EA will lose from people hearing stories like this and not paying the cash for it in the first place.

toapat:
that BMW has been in every NFS:Underground series game so far, and has a fucking aircraft wing in Most Wanted and Carbon

This is precisely the problem with making this game under the Need for Speed series. This isn't one of those driftathons where the cars have steering about as sharp as a weathered breezeblock. This is something more akin to a proper racing game.

Now, as for the OP, while it is very shocking, it does remind me of the idea of "pay drivers", or drivers in real-life who used their ability to gain sponsorship money, or their own riches, to secure a racing seat. Some cases in point include Jean-Denis Délétraz, Giovanni Lavaggi (a.k.a. Johnny Carwash), Taki Inoue and Giovanna Amati. Maybe it's the game's way of saying, "Yes, Cavalli, really, here having no business in Need for Speed: Shift. And demonstrating it there: he's spending all of his modest effort, frankly, keeping the car on the road."

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Now that I got that out of the way, I can safely say that was a joy to read, and glad I'm not the only one that gets cold chills or red rages whenever companies get ideas of players having to use real money to buy ingame items. I hate gold farmers for that reason, and I dread the day that it is used in a multiplayer game, where it gives Richie Rich the uberedge in the game. I'll quit all my MMO's first, and maybe just kill my isp service.

You don't have to use money to buy cars, you just have the option.

Yes, it sad that you can spend real cash to get an in-game car...but the kicker more is that if you spend that money on a Veyron, you won't be able to use it at the beginning of the game...because it's a Tier 4 car, and you don't have those events unlocked yet.

Also, Shift is a great game for what it is and it does a good job of trying to fill the gap between Forza games.

That is all.

RAKtheUndead:

toapat:
that BMW has been in every NFS:Underground series game so far, and has a fucking aircraft wing in Most Wanted and Carbon

This is precisely the problem with making this game under the Need for Speed series. This isn't one of those driftathons where the cars have steering about as sharp as a weathered breezeblock. This is something more akin to a proper racing game.

Now, as for the OP, while it is very shocking, it does remind me of the idea of "pay drivers", or drivers in real-life who used their ability to gain sponsorship money, or their own riches, to secure a racing seat. Some cases in point include Jean-Denis Délétraz, Giovanni Lavaggi (a.k.a. Johnny Carwash), Taki Inoue and Giovanna Amati. Maybe it's the game's way of saying, "Yes, Cavalli, really, here having no business in Need for Speed: Shift. And demonstrating it there: he's spending all of his modest effort, frankly, keeping the car on the road."

Need for Speed is actually harder then the other games, its just that the other games just have a difficulty curve on easy that starts at brickwall and just increases all the way to you dont have hands, eyes, ears, feet, or any other way to really control the car. (honestly, i cant do anything in GT4 simply because the only way to get a license is harder then the bots i will face in that entire game)

I don't get his point, I have this game and I have never been forced to buy anything with real money, just because your not patient enough to search through the list of about 181 cars to find one you can afford doesn't count as being forced to buy a car to me just lazyness

Congrats microsoft for doing the same dumbass move guildwars did!

"Hey kids! Want to play multiple characters for months on end to truly earn those elite skills for your character? Or do you want to unlock them for everything, even Competitive PvP with a one time payment of 15 bucks!?"

toapat:
Need for Speed is actually harder then the other games

Laughter doesn't translate very well over the internet, so take my word when I snort derisively at that statement. I'm guessing you've never played the likes of Live for Speed, GTR Evolution or Grand Prix Legends. Now, these are games that actually have some bloody challenge in them, where you don't just drift around like a bloody knob.

RAKtheUndead:

toapat:
Need for Speed is actually harder then the other games

Laughter doesn't translate very well over the internet, so take my word when I snort derisively at that statement. I'm guessing you've never played the likes of Live for Speed, GTR Evolution or Grand Prix Legends. Now, these are games that actually have some bloody challenge in them, where you don't just drift around like a bloody knob.

have em, the difficulty curve is either ludicrous and impossible to play, or they are actually easier.
try NFS:MW on a computer without a ps2 controller or a wheel.

Wow that is truly money scamming bullshit right there. Bloody hell.

Tell me if I misunderstood this, but are you complaining because you couldn't be bothered to scroll all the way through a list to find cheaper cars?

I really hate racing games like this.

Give me Rush 2: Extreme Racing USA anyday.

toapat:

RAKtheUndead:

toapat:
Need for Speed is actually harder then the other games

Laughter doesn't translate very well over the internet, so take my word when I snort derisively at that statement. I'm guessing you've never played the likes of Live for Speed, GTR Evolution or Grand Prix Legends. Now, these are games that actually have some bloody challenge in them, where you don't just drift around like a bloody knob.

have em, the difficulty curve is either ludicrous and impossible to play, or they are actually easier.
try NFS:MW on a computer without a ps2 controller or a wheel.

That's how I played it; I was pretty good. Most wanted is still my favorite of the series too.

Wow that is really messed up.

As microtransactions become more prevalent in online games it's only natural that we'll see them spread to offline content. The precedent is already there in DLC, the vanguard of the spread, and it's just a matter of time before the $60 purchase price becomes nothing more than the price of admission and advancement comes at the cost of real dollars. I hope that there will always be alternatives to earn bonuses through gameplay, but I have a feeling such things will be in the minority as we move forward.

Okay, can someone dumb this down for me cause I just got off work and all my brains wants to think about is sleep.

CarrionRoc:
Okay, can someone dumb this down for me cause I just got off work and all my brains wants to think about is sleep.

Fail the first race and you can't move on without paying real money.

In simpler terms

BULL.
SHIT.

i would never pay Microsoft points to unlock cars ever

CoziestPigeon:
Tell me if I misunderstood this, but are you complaining because you couldn't be bothered to scroll all the way through a list to find cheaper cars?

Yeah sounds like It I have the game and you don't have to fucking pay, it just sounds like an excuss to rip on EA. Its a fucking flame war going on here.

LOCK!

CarrionRoc:
Okay, can someone dumb this down for me cause I just got off work and all my brains wants to think about is sleep.

the game asked if he wanted to spend real money on in game cars that could be bought after winning one pr two races.
(shudders) thats scary.
ill just pratice a little bit more thank you.

So for the lazy people that don't want to use crap cars or go to the end of the list, you can take whatever you want - convenience. For those that want to play properly you do what you do in every other car game ever made.

This thread is just trolling, and deserves a lock.

Chipperz:
See, I really like Need For Speed. I do. It's so-bad-it's-good, it's campy and it has the kind of storylines that would make the writers of The Fast and the Furious be ashamed.

I beg to differ. The story in Fast and Furious(?)(the 4th one) was really bad. "lets hire some drivers to dive really fast though some mines on the broader of Mexico then kill them straight afterwards." That was just BS.

The Need for Speed thing isn't new. Didn't Battlefield Bad Company had the same shit in it? Another EA game.
Just get the PC version they don't have that crap in it. Then you can download mods/Trainers if you're to lazy to play the game.

Overlord2702:
The Need for Speed thing isn't new. Didn't Battlefield Bad Company had the same shit in it? Another EA game.

Battlefield did something different. You didn't pay money, but you were given unlock points so that you can get equipment and weapons that aren't available from the start.

If you're talking about the Gold Edition Weapons, you just go to rank 25, and you get them.

Suck at games? Just throw some money at it!

Zac_Dai:
Suck at games? Just throw some money at it!

well it worked for bungie (ba dum tish). Only joking I quite liked halo.

I'm not sure I see the problem. If your not as good it makes sense to give you a worse car which'll be slower so easier to handle around corners and you won't need to time your braking as well. And as your skill improves you'll get faster cars which you should be able to control by then. I'm not sure many people would spend the MS points straight away without at least consulting the internet where who knows they may even find this article.

What, they're not even disguising it as content they couldn't fit into the game? What the hell EA?

Well to my knowledge after each race there is a retry option immediately afterwards anyway that will allow you to retry the races.

There is the option to spend microsoft points to buy cars, but nothing in there forces you to, it provides a decent option for those who aren't so good at driving games to be able to buy the better cars quicker without having to grind through a huge amount of races (Which to some might sound preferal to being outclassed time and again until you can afford something better).

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