Review: Need For Speed ProStreet

The graphics in Need For Speed ProStreet are actually very clean for both the people and cars. You can really see the shine and finish that many of these cars were meant to have. But by the same token, both PGR and Forza look just as good if not better and they’re both better games.

There was a time when I was younger when I found nothing more fun than sitting down for a game of Need For Speed. I’ve been a fan of the series since I was a kid and have played pretty much every one. I loved the second and third games and coming from a background of games like Test Drive and Grand Prix as well as Grand Prix Legends, it was always good to see Need For Speed taking the modern line and making it fun.

You could race in fast cars, be chased by cops, eventually you could be the cops and set up spike strips around town: it was a blast. And even when the Need For Speed Underground series came along, while my need for a Fast & The Furious game was less an issue, the games still managed to be fun and thrilling. Street tracks with fast cars and a flare for style.

So you might begin to question what Electronic Arts have done to make Need For Speed ProStreet different. With a new name, have they taken the series in a completely different direction?

The answer is yes… sadly. What you get in ProStreet is more or less a combination between Forza, Project Gotham Racing, and a stylised skateboarder video.

Not to say this is bad in any way. Need For Speed ProStreet isn’t actually a bad game. It’s just not a unique game in that it doesn’t really bring anything new to the racing table.

For starters, you play the character Ryan Cooper. You’re a street racer doing this thing the legal way which is an interesting change on the part of EA perhaps suggesting that Underground’s, Most Wanted, and Carbon’s illegal racing might not have been so good a move politically on their part. Anyway, you’re this racer Ryan Cooper and everyone’s expecting big things of you as you work your way up through the racing world. And that’s basically the story.

Really, the story is little more than a simple way for ProStreet to string the game play along.

It’s a racing game. It doesn’t need a story… not this racing game anyway. You get in a car, you tune it up, you drive along at fast speeds and beat the next guy. The inclusion of the character “Ryan Cooper” doesn’t serve any real purpose except to irritate you when the lame voice actors continually make reference to you by calling you with your whole name which they’ll do over and over again.

So since it’s a racing game, let’s talk about the racing. The entirely ordinary racing.

The wholly un-unique racing style is probably one of ProStreet’s biggest problems. You see instead of letting you have free rein over a street track or giving you closed circuits with some personality, ProStreet gives you closed circuits that all look the same, play the same, and essentially are the same. While some of the textures and the environments might change, you’ll quickly pick up that the design of many of the tracks is really the same and any degree of playing a different course just won’t be found here.

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To help that, you’re given distinct playing styles. Of course I say the word “distinct” because that’s what the box says. “Prove yourself in four distinct racing styles,” it says, citing Drag, Drift, Grip, and “the all-new Speed Challenge”. Of course what it actually means is Drag, Regular Racing, Poorly Implemented Drift, and Slightly Faster Regular Racing. Really, not a lot has changed and there’ll be times where you’ll feel like you’re playing whatever a budget version of Project Gotham Racing or Forza was.

The feel of the game doesn’t help matters. You’ll find that the cars have little or no personality and things like “grip” and “steering” that are usually different for each car all blend and feel the same. And that sameness that they all share just isn’t that much fun to play.

The road too lacks any sense of realism so while you might see cracks all over the road, the driving experience is smooth sailing. The only time you get any sense of rumbling is when you hit something or start driving off of the road and into the kitty litter. It’s kind of surprising that the small amount of feedback made it into a game so driven by what the experience of driving a car should be like. You should feel like you’re driving a fast car and not a cloud.

It is, in fact, that lack of personality which sort of hovers over the game in nearly every aspect. The menus are mediocre, the engine and car sounds all tend to make the same noise, the artificial intelligence really does its part in being artificial and easy to predict, and the dialog seems meaningless and put down by actors who didn’t really care.

The photo mode is the most useless feature of all because it just plain doesn’t work. You can weave around your car like Project Gotham Racing can do but taking pictures? That just doesn’t work!

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In it’s defense, some things do work well in ProStreet.

The graphics are actually very clean for both the people and cars. You can really see the shine and finish that many of these cars were meant to have. But by the same token, both PGR and Forza look just as good if not better and they’re both better games.

Likewise, the downloadable content is a nice touch but I think EA really pushed the line well and truly into the sand and then beat the pulp out of it with a mallet when they decided that unlocking cars could be paid for with real cash. This means that all it takes is for Joe Somebody to pay around thirty bucks to unlock a fast car and then beat you all into the ground when you play him online.

I really can’t say anything overall shining about Need For Speed ProStreet. It doesn’t really do anything that’s different. That’s a real shame too as the Need For Speed series have always been something fun to turn to. ProStreet doesn’t really continue that, sadly as there’s always a better game to turn to.

If you’re into a game that’s like Forza but a lot easier then yes, Need For Speed ProStreet is for you. But for the rest of us, keep playing your favourite racer until something new comes out.

Should you buy it?: No. There are a lot of other better racing games out here and this has to be the least fun Need For Speed title ever.

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Developer: Electronic Arts
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Classification: G
Formats: PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, PC
URL: Need For Speed ProStreet

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark

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