Need For Speed ProStreet DS
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Out Now
Whilst the Nintendo DS version of Need For Speed ProStreet essentially offers a similar experience to the other console versions of the game, it should come as no surprise to find that in some respects it's quite a bit different. As in the other versions you'll play as Ryan Cooper and the basic idea is to get to the top and rub Ryo Watanabe's face in it but in the DS version it feels like a leaner, experience with less focus on the story telling and more focus on the racing.
The modes on offer in NFS ProStreet are Quick Race, Career, Multiplayer, Race Day and Hydraulics. Quick Race allows you to jump straight into a one-off race. You'll pick your location (you can only choose those you've unlocked in the Career mode), your race mode and variation before setting the number of opponents and laps. Career allows you to play through a series of Race Days in a bid to become the Street King. You'll compete in Grip, Drift, Speed and Drag events (each having their own variations) on these Race Days. The idea is to dominate the Race Day by winning everything you compete in. The mode does offer some customisation options but there's nothing elaborate here and you only have basic customisation options. Race Day is a mode where you can create four custom Race Days picking what race types and variations you want. You can then use these custom Race Days in the multiplayer mode. The multiplayer options are actually quite impressive and include support for single-card (1-8 players) and multi-card (1-8 players) gaming. Hydraulics and Race Day events can be played as a multiplayer game and there is even support for the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service (4 players).
The one mode we mentioned above and haven't explained yet is the Hydraulics mode. This is a DS exclusive and initially it's unavailable as you have to unlock it in the Career mode. Essentially it's a rhythm game that requires you to press the A, B, X and Y buttons at the correct time. It's an addition that wholly inappropriate and it's probably something you'll take a look at once and never bother with again.
It's not surprising that the presentation of the DS version of NFS ProStreet is rather more basic than in the other versions of the game we've seen. There are no elaborate cutscenes here. The car models are rather basic. The damage modelling is also extremely basic. The various circuits you'll race on look OK but certainly aren't the best that the DS could manage. The touch screen is used to good effect, for such things as displaying a map of the circuit, the amount of damage incurred and the leaderboard during a race. Of course there are some advantages. The cutscenes in the other versions weren't that great and weren't subtitled. Here you're simply given a brief sketch of the storyline through a few sentences. All tutorial messages are in text and tucked away in the options menu where you'll find text tutorials for the four race events: Drift, Grip, Drag and Speed. In effect then, NFS ProStreet on the DS is absolutely fine for deaf gamers.
As we've already mentioned, there was never going to be anyway that the DS version of NFS ProStreet was going to have the same glossy presentation that you'd find in other versions of the game. This certainly isn't a problem however because the game gets it right where it matters most, the racing. The handling is pretty much spot on and as good as you're going to get using a directional pad. For all its lack of style the bottom line is that NFS ProStreet is a solid DS racing title. The handling, as we've just mentioned is spot on, all the cars feel different from each other (which is an achievement on the DS), the AI is challenging and the races are most interesting. Of course it's not as pretty as you would like it to be and the damage modelling is unimpressive but it's of no concern. What you're looking for in a DS racing game is for the races to be enjoyable and for the handling to be good and on both accounts NFS ProStreet delivers.