Let me review this game while it's still fresh in my mind. After 29 hours, I finished the game. Granted - I'm missing about 10 stars out of 1125 or something, but the requirements for those stars are so arbitrary, I'm not even going to bother.
This game has its highs and lows. I will say that the interior views for the cars are amazing - NFS: Shift is the only game I've played that featured a cockpit view of the AE86, which not even Polyphony Digital (makers of Gran Turismo) could not do. Aside from the cool interiors, decent HUD effects, and sound, the game is not really all that great.
The AI is absolute trash, and WILL ram you on turn one of any track. The thing that disgusted me the most was the gratuitous use of rubberbanding, which only activated once the AI realizes you have a good chance of passing them.
The in-race missions are okay, except for the ones that require you to spin out/tap out an opponent. As a racing game veteran, there is nothing that I hate more than dirty racing, and this game requires you to smash opponents for stars in certain races. To add insult to injury, when you DO attempt to smash the enemies, you might as well be crashing your car into a wall, because pit maneuvers and other various tactics do not work, and instead will spin you out.
Sometimes, races require you to perform clean laps as a mission. This is extremely do-able on tracks with more than one lap. This is NOT do-able on Nurburgring. Because of Nurb's narrow track, and the AI's awful racing line, you will either be hit, or you will hit someone. If you try to race clean, you will never make it into first. That was another mission I did not bother doing.
Online was non-existent. I selected quick match at peak online gaming hours (10pm EST - 2am EST) and did not find a single match. The game still gave me the option to create a match, and I could post my leaderboard stats online, so I arrived at the conclusion that the servers are up, but nobody plays this online.
I completed this game because I enjoyed NFS as a kid. If I had to rank it out of games that I've played out of the franchise, I'd rank it NFSU2 > Pro Street > Shift > NFSU1.
I picked this game up for $5 because it was on sale, and I think that is the only circumstance that you as the reader should pick this up. This game is NOT worth $20.
The soundtrack is ridiculously ♥♥♥♥ too. I just played the game with my Eurobeat collection running in the background.