I was oddly intrigued when I first heard about developer Timbo Jimbo’s Static Shift Racing last week. The premise was that it’s an open-world street racing game with a heavy ’90s vibe in terms of vehicles and style, and there’s a huge emphasis on customization with thousands of parts and upgrades so every racer can trick out their own ride just to their liking. It sounded massively ambitious for what seemed like a pretty tiny studio, so I kind of figured it would either be a huge success or a major flop when it finally released.
Well, Static Shift Racing did launch globally this week and I’m happy to say it falls way more on the side of a success. Don’t get me wrong, there is a long ways to go in many respects, but what is here at launch is majorly impressive, and more importantly majorly fun. As mentioned you’ll roam around an open world entering into various types of races, and this is one area where the game feels like it could use some expanding. The environment isn’t as large as your typical open world game, but it is incredibly detailed with lots of well-designed roadways that will act as different circuits in the various events.
Then there’s the vehicle selection, which is just 5 to start, but those 5 are quite different from one another and have quite a lot of customization options to explore. Again, the level of quality and polish here puts much larger studios to shame. Everything is tied to an overall progression system for your driver as well as your various vehicles. This is the part of the game that has really sucked me in. Earning XP, unlocking new parts, tricking out your ride with the new gear, and then heading back out to race some more is a very satisfying game loop. It’s like playing a loot-based dungeon crawler except it’s a street racing game, and it’s awesome.
Also worth mentioning is that the racing itself is super fun. Very arcadey and very drift-focused. It can feel a little wonky at first but once you get the hang of things it’s extremely satisfying to carve around curves completely sideways while colored smoke billows from your tires and tunes blast out from the speakers. I think the developers were going for a very specific vibe with Static Shift Racing and I think they definitely nailed it.
With all these positive points does come some negative. First and foremost is that there just needs to be more game here. More open world areas, more vehicles, and more event types. To be fair this is all stuff that is supposedly already in the works and will be coming soon, but I’ve seen far too many games make promises they never followed through with so the proof will definitely be in the pudding should said pudding really materialize. The second thing is that this is a very free to play game, with a ticket system for entering races where the tickets are on cool-down timers as well as two types of in-game currency. So far none of this has been an issue, but that’s always how they start, right? Long term remains to be seen.
All that said the good definitely outweighs the bad here, and as jaded as I’ve become over the years I’d like to think that this is a developer that’s just passionate about a very specific type of racing game and wanted to make one of their own, and is just trying to negotiate the troubled waters of mobile gaming as best they can. What is here today is a very, very solid base to something that could become truly special, and the fact that it’s free does at least mean that anybody could try it out for themselves to see if Static Shift Racing revs their own engines as much as it has for me so far.