Need for Speed: ProStreet
Fast cars, illegal street races, police chases and cheesy full motion video are just some of the things that spring to mind when the words “Need For Speed” are mentioned. Unfortunately, if you are a fan of these things, then prepare to be somewhat disappointed as NFS: ProStreet has decided to drop most of these elements and focus on closed tracks with no civilians or police.
ProStreet places you in the boots of Ryan Cooper, a former street racer that has decided to go legit. In his attempt to make a name for himself, Ryan catches the eye of Ryo Watanabe, who is the “Showdown King” and bland villain of the game. Ryo disrespects Ryan in front of everyone and thus a rivalry is born. This is all shown using the in-game visuals so don’t expect any of the awesome cheesiness that the FMV segments in previous games provided. Ryan never takes off his helmet or says a word and Ryo is as bland a stereotype as you can get so the story is not only uninteresting but so thin that I wonder why they even bothered with it.
ProStreet turns its back on the open world segments of previous titles and instead offers up race days, which is events that take place on closed tracks. Everything is legal so don’t expect to see any police as you take part in drag races, grip races, speed races and a bit of drifting. While there is nothing wrong with these events, there is nothing here that hasn’t already been done and done much better in other racing games. It’s clear that EA is very keen to muscle in on Gran Turismo and Forza’s territory, but the end result just feels like a bland and watered down simulation.
The game takes place on real world tracks and you have your pick of tuner, muscle and exotic cars, but the whole affair just feels so generic. The cars look nice enough, but the tracks, despite some attempt to liven them up with huge balloons, are as boring as can be. Even the two scantily clad race girls that crop up everywhere can’t do much to generate some excitement. The sheer amount of advertising everywhere is also very annoying, but I guess this is to be expected considering the sport that is being portrayed.
You progress through the game by either winning or dominating events and using the cash to purchase and upgrade your cars.
Completing events unlock new ones and eventually you get to take on the five “kings.” Car damage is now permanent, so if you wreck your vehicle during a race the performance will not only suffer but you will have to repair it with cash out of your own pocket. The problem is that the car handling is not that great and the other drivers are morons so finishing a race without a scrape is not that easy. You do win stuff like repair markers that can make damages a bit lighter on your pocket but watching your very expensive car flip through the air and come apart because of the poor handling is very dismaying. There are three levels of driver assist available, but overall the game is not really that hard.
The game isn’t all bad, but the sheer amount of repetition can make it feel like a grind. Take for example the drag races. You get three chances to post the fastest times for a race, but before each attempt you first have to spin your tires in a mini-game that makes it easier to get a quick start. These are almost longer than the actual drag races and have to be done before each and every attempt. There are also a lot of customization options, but because it is so tedious to cycle through all the slowly loading decals one by one in order to find anything remotely interesting I pretty much ignored this aspect of the game.
There are some decent tunes by the likes of Avenged Sevenfold, Bloc Party and Junkie XL but the commentators soon becomes annoying. I can appreciate that they used real professional race commentators, but if I have to hear the words “my man Ryan Cooper” one more time I will shove a microphone down someone’s throat.
ProStreet is once again one of those games that don’t have much to offer at this point. It has been far surpassed by older and newer titles in the series. No patches to fix the stuttering frame rates were ever released and overall the game just feels rushed and less polished than what it should have been.
*Review originally published 2013.