Need for Improvement
The Need for Speed series has been around for quite some time now. It has outlasted many racing series by continuing to evolve and presenting players with interesting and unique experiences. At least that was true before this title was released. This game seriously makes me think that they actually took steps backward for the series. Gone are the fantastic police chases and underground-racing scenes; in their stead, you are given a very uninspired title based on professional street racing.
You play the game as Ryan Cooper, a yet unknown driver looking to make a name for yourself. After your first completed race, you are confronted and called out by Ryo Watanabe. This fairly unrealistic and lame exchange serves as your entire reason for racing in this title. You must then play through a seemingly endless number of events to earn the right to finally put Ryo in his place by defeating him. As with most racing games, you start off with a fairly limited vehicle. As you finish events and earn cash, you can upgrade your current clunker or purchase new and better vehicles. If you finish well enough in some events, you can also win new vehicles or parts for upgrading. There is definitely no shortage of vehicles or ways to customize them in ProStreet.
Car customization and tuning are obviously the best part of this title. As with the previous Need for Speed titles, you can make every vehicle your own by meticulously altering your cars’ performances and looks. The options here are very robust and will not disappoint even tech-heads. For newcomers who aren’t well versed in the specifics of upgrading their vehicles, the game offers an automatic upgrade ability that will make tinkering with your car seem a lot less intimidating.
Need for Speed ProStreet gives players the option of having several versions of the same car. This may initially sound unimportant, but it really becomes quite essential as you play. This allows you to tune your vehicles specifically for the game’s various event types and save them as a blueprint. Each car can have up to three blueprints saved, which makes each vehicle feel very versatile and gives you a leg up on your competition.
To progress through the game’s career mode, you will have to compete in several different race days. These are basically just groups of events that you will need to place well in to proceed. If you do well enough and blow away your competition, you can actually dominate them completely. Dominating events is the best way to earn cash and car bonuses and is necessary for unlocking more race days.
In these race days, you will participate in various events including grip races, drift events, drag races, and sector shootouts. Grip races and drifting events are fairly straightforward and slightly entertaining. If only the same could be said about the drag races and sector shootouts. The drag races aren’t entirely bad; they are just made less enjoyable because of the lame tire burning minigame that precedes them. A gauge will appear and you will need to keep your speed in the appropriate section to warm your tires and gain a better start. You will need to do this before every drag attempt. Since you will do three runs for every event, this quickly becomes extremely annoying. Sector shootouts are fairly frustrating as well. In these events, you will compete to earn points in the ten individual segments contained in each track. The player with the best time in these stretches is given points based on his/her time through that specific segment. However, you will only be awarded points if you beat the preceding opponents’ best times. Unfortunately, what this basically boils down to is that the first player through a section gets points no matter how they finish. Since these events begin with your opponents in front of you, it can become difficult and frustrating trying to overcome this imposed handicap.
Track design is another serious problem in this title. Firstly, almost all of the tracks feel eerily similar. You will play through many events to beat this game, yet the only major differences in the tracks are the directions that you need to turn. Secondly, the tracks are all extremely linear. There are no shortcuts or surprises to be uncovered; you just drive your line and try to finish in first. Lastly, the tracks are all really narrow. With the lack of shortcuts, it can often be difficult to successfully navigate around your opponents on these drab and claustrophobic tracks.
Need for Speed ProStreet is also sadly underwhelming in the graphics department. While I know that it can’t possibly look as good as its next generation counterparts, it is ugly even when compared to titles like the now ancient Burnout 3. The cars look fairly realistic but show relatively no signs of damage, even after completely totaling them. Backgrounds and tracks are devoid of life and detail while looking fairly blurred most of the time. While the next generation versions of this title most likely had more attention and better funding, this level of graphics are completely inexcusable.
ProStreet is also host to some less than stellar audio. The announcers in this game are incredibly difficult to understand. This is mostly due to some heavy accents and a complete overuse of racing slang. They quickly become annoying and make you want to mute your television to end the pain. Fortunately, the vehicle sound effects are well done and the soundtrack is host to some good music to help drown out these annoyances.
With all of the good racing games that are already available, I certainly can’t recommend this title. If this is what we can expect from future Need for Speed games for this console, then perhaps ProStreet should be the last. It is clear that this version was an afterthought considering the sizeable quality difference between it and its next generation brothers. Not having any online play also hinders this title, but it most likely wouldn’t have helped much considering all of its other issues. If you are looking for a great and enjoyable racing experience, you should definitely look elsewhere.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.9 Graphics
The cars all look fairly good but don’t really reflect damage. Backgrounds are rather blurry and lifeless. 3.5 Control
Everything controls as you would expect, although it feels a little washy. 3.7 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The great soundtrack and good sound effects are only hampered by the terribly annoying commentators. 3.0 Play Value
While there are a ton of events and an endless ability to customize your cars, its repetitive nature and lack of online gameplay leaves this title feeling rather empty. 3.2 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.