There are many reviews of "Need for Speed: Shift" on websites such as IGN, Gamespot, Eurogamer, PCGamer and Rock Paper Shotgun as of 2015; generally, most reviewers seem pleased by the racing, graphics and selection of vehicles, but some complain of inconsistent mechanics, unfair AI, lack of customization options and a lackluster career mode.
According to Metacritic, most reviews for "Need for Speed: Shift" are very positive, with scores ranging between 80 to 90 points out of 100. The user score is very mixed, with the average being 5.7 out of 10 as of 2015. IGN state that the mechanics and game-play are very intuitive and fun, but the physics on the drift challenges cause some problems. The cars over-steer while drifting even when there is barely any acceleration applied.
Gamespot complains of clear AI cheating that allows competitors to drive on gravel and grass almost as quickly as they can on asphalt while the player is significantly hampered. Gamespot also states that the game does what it does well but doesn't deliver anything that other racing games haven't already. 1UP praises the game for breaking the standard racing game mold of running smoothly all the time, saying that it allows persistent gamers make the online thrill racing enjoyable.