Need for Speed ProStreet - 360 - Review
The Need for Speed series has been a driving force (no pun intended) in console racing games for many years now, with a new entry to the franchise expected just about every year. Over the past few entries, the series seemed to be in a bit of a rut, overcapitalizing on illegal urban street racing, a theme that had been done by other franchises and was growing quite tired. Thankfully, EA Black Box have decided to take the series into a brand new direction, modernizing the series with ProStreet, a take on performance racing that goes beyond back-alley shortcuts and running from the cops. City streets bustling with traffic have given way to real tracks and courses, and pimped-out rides have given way to ugly but extremely fast cars. Performance and tuning are king in ProStreet, a game that represents an exciting new direction for the series.
Need for Speed ProStreet puts you in control of an actual character (not just a nameless camera) named Ryan Cooper, a racer working his way up from the bottom to the top of the ProStreet heap. You’ll face some pretty hefty competition along the way from the Street Kings, a group of racers who each dominate a certain area of racing. As you complete Race Days and gain better cars and a bigger reputation, you’ll have to take down each of the Street Kings by besting them at their disciplines, and becoming top dog in the racing world.
The Career mode is split into Race Days with four or so different races a piece. These include drag races (where you must shift at the right time in order to get the best quarter-mile time), grip races (where you race around a track against your opponents), and drift races (where you have to get the best points for drifting around curves). While there are a few sub-modes, most of the races fall under these basic categories.
However, winning is not enough when it comes to Race Days. In order to gain the best cars and unlock the best performance enhancers, it’s necessary to dominate. In order to dominate, you have to achieve a certain point spread over your competition throughout the events of the race day. If you hit a certain number of total points, you’ll get a special gift, which can be money or special unlockables.
Crashing your car has some pretty serious ramifications in ProStreet, more so than previous Need for Speed titles. You’ll need to repair the damage that you do between races, or else your car won’t quite be up to the snuff that it needs to be to dominate. Damage can range from light to pretty serious, and get into a serious enough fender bender and you’ll total your car and render it useless. Additionally, hitting restart will not magically repair the damage to your car, as you’ll go right back to the starting line with all the scrapes and dings that you just accumulated. This is a pretty unforgiving development from the game’s creators, so be sure to tread on eggshells while still trying to win.
The real difference in Need for Speed: ProStreet comes from the ability to tune your car’s performance. Whereas performance upgrades played a part in previous entries to the series, the illegal street racing atmosphere of Underground and Carbon had performance upgrades taking a backseat to aesthetic style. However, ProStreet allows you to really get your hands dirty when it comes to upgrading your cars. While those who do not know much about upgrading cars are able to purchase “quick upgrades” that package performance blueprints in a certain aspect, like Power or Handling, car buffs can get into custom upgrades in order to purchase every part themselves and will probably get the most out of the robust tuning system, which lets you gear the car to your own personal racing preferences.
If you are even more obsessive about how your car handles, you’ll be able to take advantage of the Autosculpt system. While you’ve been able to tweak your car’s outer shell in other Need for Speed games, the Autosculpt system will actually have a bearing on how your car’s “Aero” rating, or how well it handles and feels wind resistance. There’s even a wind test that will help you determine what areas of your car’s body are getting the most drag. Needless to say, there is a lot of love out there for grease monkeys and tuners.
Aside from the career mode, there are some pretty cool features in the Race Days mode, which allows you to create your own race day, choosing your courses and which races you’d like to do during the Race Day. Once you’ve created your Race Day, you can either go it alone or take it online to challenge your friends on Xbox Live. You’ll also be able to trade around custom blueprints with your friends over Live, which represents a great community element new to the Need for Speed franchise.
Graphically, the game looks pretty phenomenal, boasting some nice new details and effects. While the previous few Need for Speed games focused on bright neon and blurring city lights, ProStreet has an almost Spartan look to the cars, which aren’t built to be pretty, but built to be fast. That’s not to say the game isn’t a dazzling piece of eye candy, as it most certainly is. The car models look very realistic, and will take damage realistically (even insofar as having an effect on your performance). Bits of the car’s body will crumple and eventually look a complete mess, before being totaled of course. Another awesome effect is the tire smoke, which is some of the most realistic smoke I’ve seen yet in a video game. As you heat your tires for a drag race, the smoke will spin and billow from around your tires, making for a very realistic effect that is awesome to see.
Soundwise the game is pretty impressive as well, with great sound effects and some decent voice work. As per usual with EA Trax, the soundtrack is a pretty diverse mix of songs from groups you may’ve heard in other EA games, with bands like The Rapture, CSS, and Datarock rounding out a list that also features a fair amount of techno and rap.
Need for Speed ProStreet is a fascinating direction for the series, and one that represents a strong shift towards customization and community elements. Finally getting away from neon-glare of illegal street racing, the Need for Speed series puts out a title that gearheads will want to get their hands on.
Review Scoring Details for Need for Speed: ProStreet
ProStreet offers some great customization elements as well as several different types of races, including the brand new Drag Race mode to keep you interested. The game generally feels more technically realistic and responsive, and offers a new level of depth and complexity to the Need for Speed series.
Fantastically rendered car models with accurate damage modeling and awesome smoke effects.
The sound effects and voice work and pretty good, and the soundtrack is what you would expect from an EA title.
It was a risky move for the series, but it ultimately paid off. Need for Speed is an original and unique racer that focuses on performance and tuning over looks, and is a blast for it.
Great community elements from the Race Day mode to the blueprints highlight this online racer.
Need for Speed: ProStreet is a great breath of fresh air for the series, and is a very complex and deep racer with some sleek customization options.