Need For Speed ProStreet PlayStation 3
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Out Now
This year the Need For Speed series has taken a change of direction. In Need For Speed ProStreet the racing is all legal. There are no police chases to worry out and the races aren't all taking place in the dark of the night. In fact, ProStreet sees the series switch to circuit racers and moves away from the street races that have been a key ingredient for the last few games in the NFS series. In many ways it doesn't feel like an NFS game at all but that's not to say it isn't enjoyable because it certainly is.
There's not much of a storyline in ProStreet's Career mode. You'll play as a young driver by the name of Ryan Cooper. The game begins with you winning a race and the race event's announcer singing your praises. A well known racing hero, Ryo Watanabe turns up at the event and comments at how poor the stand of driving is at the event. He especially takes a dislike of Cooper commenting that he may have won the race but that he's not that good behind the wheel. The goal of the game then is to work your way to the top by competing in race days and race events. The basic idea is to dominate each race day that you compete in by winning most of the events on that day. Eventually you'll get the chance to put the disrespecting Ryo Watanabe in his rightful place.
There are several different race types in ProStreet. Grip races are essentially standard races with the first to pass the finishing line being the winner. Drift races are where you have to earn drift points by power-drifting around the bends. Drag races test your ability to heat your car's tyres (via a mini-game before the start of the event) and shift gears efficiently as you aim to cover a set distance in the shortest possible time. There are other events and even variations here with most of them having featured in previous titles. Some things have been done differently however. Certain race days require every competitor to use the same car model. When you're driving a car that has been provided for you, you won't have to pay for any damage to the car. This is actually quite good because the cars actually damage quite significantly and when you're using your own car you can end up losing all of your progress in a race day if your car should be completely wrecked in one of the events.
Probably the best feature of ProStreet is the ability to go online and organise your very own race day (you'll get to customise them exactly to your liking) or take part in race days that others have created. You can also race in both ranked and unranked events. It's certainly a worthwhile inclusion and it's probably where most will spend their time with the game. Some aspects of the game aren't so pleasing however. You can actually unlock cars simply by purchasing them (with real money) which just seems all wrong. Some might find the amount of advertising, in the form of product placements, in the game to be a turn off.
Graphically, ProStreet looks good. The car models all look very good and the damage modelling is superb. The various racing environments you'll encounter during the course of the game don't look quite as impressive as the car models however. The frame rate is a little disappointing and it fluctuates quite a bit. I have even experienced the odd half-a-second pause during some races. The unstable frame rate can make the handling of the cars seem artificially heavy at times. It never gets to the stage where it really gets on your nerves but nevertheless, more care should have been taken to ensure the frame rate was more consistent even if that meant dropping the graphical detail down a notch or two.
Previous Need For Speed games haven't catered for deaf gamers as well as they could have. ProStreet also manages to disappoint in this respect. The game isn't subtitled so you'll miss out on all of the cutscene dialogue. While this is disappointing, it's not exactly a disaster as the cutscenes aren't that great or important in ProStreet. You'll find a brief description of events on the loading screens. Text descriptions of each race type are also given when you first attempt a race type. During and prior to the start of a race there are comments from the announcer and these aren't subtitled.
Need For Speed ProStreet is a game that not every fan of the NFS series is going to appreciate. Those who want the police chases, the street racing and the ability to drive around the city streets at will are going to be disappointed because that's not what ProStreet is about. Taken on its merits, ProStreet is actually an enjoyable game and it's probably more likely to appeal to those who weren't that keen on the last few titles in the series. Those who have played the last few games need to approach the game with an open mind however and not simply expect more of the same. We all moan when sequels are simply more of the same and this is one of those rare occasions when the developers have shown the courage to attempt something different.