The Need for Speed series is a huge franchise for EA. Sure, the company has Burnout, FIFA and Harry Potter but it is the Need for Speed series that is consistently topping the charts come Christmas time. The last two games in the series, Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Need for Speed: Carbon were quite similar to each other but were entertaining arcade games. With ProStreet, EA has given the Need for Speed series a big face lift. Some people will be happy, some will be mad, and some won't care.
One of the biggest differences with ProStreet in comparison to previous Need for Speed titles is immediately apparent during the introduction of the career mode. The game follows the career of Ryan Cooper, who is a legal street racer. Much like any rags to riches tale Ryan is a good racer who is yet to prove his worth, but rather than evade the cops and stop himself from going to jail, Ryan is simply trying to make a name for himself in the world of professional street racing.
The career mode in ProStreet is divided up into race days. To complete a race day you will need to get a required number of points. Gaining points is done by taking part in several different races and race types. For each event you take part in you will gain points for finishing place, how much damage you've done to your car and other criteria. As you gain these points you will eventually progress to the next race day and the next set of events. To unlock new events you will need to make sure that you also dominate race events. In every race you take part in you will get points based on your performance, and if your combined score at the end of the events breaks the record then you have dominated the race day. Dominating events is important because it unlocks prizes such as cash or parts for your car.
In the career mode there is a wide variety of race options, but most fans will have come across them before. Grip races are just your standard race around the track and try and get first races you will have participated in since the dawn of the racing games. There are also time attacks and challenges where you have to go through a checkpoint at the highest speed, much like the speed camera challenges of previous Need for Speed games, but with no camera. Drifting is back and is quick and enjoyable, and drag racing has been overhauled. The first time you drag race you'll think it's the greatest thing ever - essentially, before you can actually get going you will need to heat up your tires, which requires the player to accelerate and decelerate at a specific point to heat up the tires. This mini game does have a point, as it dictates how well you will start the race, but it quickly becomes tedious. During most race days you will have to take part in three consecutive drag races and heating up your tires three times in a row will be enough to have you avoiding the drag races as much as possible when you're only an hour into the game.
The tuning elements of previous Need for Speed games are back in force. You can obviously purchase new vehicles with the cash you've won but if you want to stick with your ride then you will need to upgrade your car. This can be done by purchasing performance parts or if you just want your ride to look good, visual mods.
The reason ProStreet isn't as entertaining as its predecessors is because the racing just isn't as entertaining. You will start the career mode in a vehicle that's just so slow and things don't get any quicker for a long time. When the cars get faster the game is quite a bit of fun, but the lack of cops really is a severe disappointment. Damage modelling has been included in the game for the first time in a while. The damage modelling is okay but repairing the damage is quite simple, so it doesn't really add much to the game at all.
The online play in ProStreet is a highlight. You can create your own race day online and customise options such as location, and which vehicles can take part in the race day. This means you can have, say, two drag events, then a race and another drag event if you'd like. It's quite impressive and it feels good to be able to "customise" your own race day.
There are a few things in ProStreet that just make us feel a little dirty. For starters, the game well and truly tries to milk the player of as many gamerpoints as possible. There are already downloadable packs on the marketplace which in total would cost 2800 points. The packs allow you to purchase all manner of things including new cars and will even unlock all of the performance parts in the game for you. Four of the packs are pointless if you actually progress through the game though, as a lot of the "purchased cars" can be unlocked by simply progressing through the game. The advertising in the game is also way over the top at times.
Need for Speed: ProStreet isn't a bad racing game, it's just a fundamentally different racing game to what Need for Speed fans are used too. Driving away from the cops at high speed only to come to a deadly corner to be saved by the speedbreaker is something that is now reserved to our memories (or the previous Need for Speed games). A lot of the changes in ProStreet feel like they have been made simply for the sake of change. However, with some impressive damage effects and some enjoyable racing, Need for Speed: ProStreet is still a fun arcade game. It's just different - very different.