The Need For Speed franchise has helped us lose girlfriends for 15 years, but as it's adjusted from a simulator to an arcade racer that's been less the case. We hear that's about to change.

Electronic Arts has come a long way with the Need For Speed series since its 1994 debut on the 3DO game system. They've partnered with Slightly Mad Studios, developers of the enthusiast PC racing sims, GT Legends and GTR2 for the newest release, Need For Speed: Shift. We're told to expect a heightened sense of realism as opposed to the more arcade racer-feel of the last few games in the franchise.


How will they do it? The new title will focus on on-track racing rather than the tuner, street-racing crowd out of a desire to put a little heat on upcoming games like Forza Motorsport 3 and Gran Turismo 5. Both are seen as more "realistic" than what the Need For Speed franchise has become.

So what should we expect from gameplay? Shift will provide gamers with an involved racing experience with fully modeled cars including highly detailed interiors that will be accurate down to the little touches like radio knobs and the Corvette's heads-up-display. The visuals are impressive, as evidenced by the above images, but we're curious to see if that level of detail is truly carried through to the final product. Performance attributes will be highly detailed as well, meaning that big rear-wheel-drive, front-engined V8 cars will handle much, much differently than smaller, lighter, more nimble cars like the Lotus Elise.


We're looking forward to a little competitive racing and it might even get us to re-up our XBOX Live Gold accounts, that is, if our 360 stops showing us the dreaded "Red Ring of Death." You'll be able to get a copy of Need For Speed: Shift in your greasy little mitts for either the PC, XBOX 360, Playstation 3 or the PSP in the Fall of 2009.

[via EA]