Need for Speed: ProStreet Review - 07/12/07

With Need For Speed's last next gen game being a hasty port of Carbon, and being utter tripe, we can finally hail the arrival of the first, real, next gen NFS in the form of Pro Street.

The first thing to be said is that all that night time, street racing business is gone. Pro Street is all about daylight and legitimate racing venues, including real race tracks such as Portland International Raceway, Autopolis (Japan), and Mondello Park (Ireland).This latest incarnation is less "The Fast And The Furious rip off" and, more like a realistic driving game, although the developers are quick to stress, it is not a simulator (differentiating it from the likes of Grand Turismo).

This time around you, as Ryan Cooper, compete in different events hosted by the four different racing clans as you struggle to climb up the ranking ladder. Each clan has a leader who is an expert at one of the types of racing, grip (normal lap racing), drag (fastest down the straight), drift (throw your car sideways to earn points) and speed (fastest through checkpoints). You have to compete well in race days to get a shot at challenging each of the leaders in turn, and once you defeat them all, you earn the right to challenge the Showdown King, Ryo Watanabe, and try to take his crown.

You start the game at a qualifying event for the Battle Machine race day and watch as the cut scenes show you winning numerous races. You then have to step in and take over to win the final race and qualify. From there you begin your rise through the rankings constantly winning new cars and gaining monetary rewards for each race day you complete. Playing as the mysterious Ryan Cooper does become irksome after a while however, as you never see his face through his helmet, and the constant reference to you by the race announcers all through the game gets increasingly annoying. Considering EA's heavy emphasis on character creation in most of their other titles, you'd have thought that they would get round to implementing it in NFS too as this would provide a more immersive experience for us players...

Pro Street sports over 60 cars from around 26 different manufacturers, including the likes of BMW, Nissan, Mazda and many more. The in depth tuning of previous outings also returns with the possibility to modify your car to match your style, both visually (using the autosculpt feature that allows you to modify every body detail on your car) and performance wise, with numerous parts at your disposal. This time around though, when you buy a new car, you must designate what type it is, drift, drag, grip or speed. From there on you can have 3 separate blueprints for the car, meaning three different incarnations, modded differently, to deal with specific events. Furthermore, any blueprint you construct can be shared online with other users and you receive credit for anyone that adopts yours.

The online mode in PS is more integrated into the whole game this time around as, for as long as you are connected to the internet, your online leaderboard standing is edited as you progress through the game. There is of course the possibility to race with others online, and even set up your own race day and send out invitations for others to take part.

As far as the actual gameplay goes, handling is very realistic, gone is the arcadey feel of old, and the new damage system really impacts on the player to an extent where you will try and not damage your car because of all the work you have put in, and because it will be expensive to fix. Graphically, NFS has taken a step up and now almost rivals the likes of the GT demos that everyone drools over, although it's still not at that height just yet.

So, final impressions; PS has come a long way since the demo appeared on the Playstation Store, it has graphically improved and the gameplay is indeed tighter and more realistic. So far it one of the best racing games of its kind out there for PS3 and all fans of the series, and indeed the genre, will enjoy it and be glad about the direction that NFS is taking, out of the dark gritty streets, and into the sunlit raceways...

- Alex Goodenough



EA Black Box