A Stranger in a Strange Land – EA’s Need for Speed Launch Event

4 min read


We were invited, along with other members of the press, to EA’s Need for Speed : Shift launch event yesterday at Forsdicks (Hey, stop giggling..that’s really childish!) in Sandton. Unfortunately, our resident petrolhead Nick was unavailable so instead they sent me; and I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to all things vehicular I am an absolute luddite. Different cars are distinguishable to me only if they’re differently coloured. I should probably check for ovaries when I have my next medical examination.

After being greeted by smiling faces at the registration table, I found myself unnaturally attracted to the bar, almost blissfully unaware that I was surrounded by consoles set up to demo the reason we were all there; Need for Speed: Shift. That would have to come later though; After sitting in Sandton traffic for far too long I was parched – and needed a manly drink. It was a tough call, and I nearly settled on something pink with an umbrella in it – but ultimately decided on an Amstel, the undisputed drink of champions.

Beer in hand, it was time to go and familiarise myself with the game. I walked up to a demo kiosk, filled with apprehension and dread – what if somebody would watch me play over my shoulder? I’m notoriously bad at racing games – excelling only at crashing in to walls. What if the evening would degenerate into one of shame, with South Africa’s gaming press pointing and laughing at me? It was then that my peripheral vision caught sight of a diminutive man carrying a tray of what seemed like golden, tubular deep-fried  bits of heaven. Ah! A gastronomic diversion! Just what I needed to avoid public mockery and scarring humiliation. My suspicions as to their divinity were correct, when upon first bite the gooey, 3 cheese springroll exploded in my mouth producing a feeling of ecstasy that I can only imagine is akin to angels having multiple orgasms.


Still under the hypnotic spell of the delicious appetizers, I was made frightfully aware that presentation was about to begin by the jarring, offensively loud sound of engines coming from the ambitious sound system that produced volumes that any amphitheatre would be envious of. After scooping my brains up and shoving them back in to my punctured ears, I – like most everyone there – huddled around the large screen setup that EA employed to show off their new game . Two fluffy, complimentary speeches later and the cavalier Stephen Viljoen, one of the producers and designers of the game, took the mic to extol the virtues of his product. I listened intently, cramming as many of the aforementioned heavenly hors d’Å“uvres in to my pie hole as I could.

He spoke with such fervour and passion for the game that even I was filled with a burning, unbridled desire to get behind a digital steering wheel. It’s quite apt that with the press kit given out by EA they included a Need For Speed branded carwash hamper – just as it will return a lustre to my car, Need For Speed: Shift will undoubtedly return a shine to the ailing series. Leaving the event I was genuinely excited to play Shift, and thanks to the copy provided by EA I could!

I raced home – I use “raced” pejoratively of course, because in truth I turtled along home thanks to gridlocked traffic – and, once there, in an almost singular motion ripped the outer plastic from my shiny new copy of Need for Speed: Shift and shoved it in to my console. A short load and a few exhilarating, adrenaline-pumping cut scenes later and I was in my first car and on my first track – where I summarily crashed in to a wall.

Much thanks – of course – to EA for the event, the swag, the game and the now incurable addiction I have to the beautiful amalgamation of cheese and pastry.

Need for Speed: Shift is available in stores now on PC, PSP,PS3 and Xbox 360. Mobile versions are also available to Vodacom users.

Last Updated: September 18, 2009

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