Need for Speed ProStreet Review

If you've played the Need for Speed games over the past few years, then you won't even recognize Need for Speed ProStreet. Gone are the turf wars, the nighttime urban racing, and the police chases. Yes, Need for Speed has gone legit. Perhaps EA was feeling a little guilty for glorifying an illegal activity that seems to kill people weekly here in LA. Perhaps they ran out of ideas for the old format and wanted to give gamers a compelling reason to buy a Need for Speed game again this year. Or maybe Burnout is now EA's exclusive open-world urban racing game. Whatever the reason, ProStreet is about professional street racing (that's got to be some sort of oxymoron) and you'll be doing must of your racing during the day with professionals on a closed course. ProStreet resembles Forza Motorsport more than it does Need for Speed.

ProStreet does try to continue the series' tradition of weaving a storyline between all of the racing, but this time out it's pretty thin and feels too forced. Basically after winning your first race one of the top racers in the sport grabs a PA mic and goes on a rant about your lack of skills. He then hops in his car, does a few donuts near you, and then stops to scowl at you before peeling out. That's about as exciting as the story gets, and the game would have benefited from dropping the Need for Story altogether. The guy is a jerk who embarrassed himself. Forget about it and move on.

Gameplay in ProStreet is centered on racing days. Racing days are a collection of events in which you earn a score for your performance. Of course, finishing first or in one of the top positions of an event is a big part of your score, but you will also be rated on things like the amount of damage your car sustains in the race. Events include grip races which are your standard races to be the first to cross the finish line on a closed circuit track, drift races, and drag racing. Each drag heat is preceded by a mini game that has you heating your tires by pushing the gas and keeping the tire rotation speed in a small marked zone - it's about as exciting as it sounds and you'll be tired of it by the second time you go through it. The drag heat itself is more of a timing-based event than anything else. As you head straight down the strip you'll need to shift gears right at the moment when your RPMs hits a narrow band on your tachometer display. The drag racing is an event that can best be described as simply being there; it won't excite you all that much either positively or negatively. If anything, the fact that you have to run drag races so often makes them slightly annoying. In fact, the repetition of all of the events tends to make the game drag (no pun originally intended, but duly noted later). Without the open world aspect of the game, the shortcuts through urban environments, and the police on your tail, you're left with some thoroughly average racing here. Further adding to the game's identity crisis is the fact that the racing has been transformed from a pure arcade experience to something midway between arcade and sim racing. No one will be happy with the results as Need for Speed fans will hate the fact that they slide off of the track on curves all of the time while those used to racing sims will find the car physics too forgiving.

Another thing which makes the game drag is that it takes a while to get to the really cool cars like the Lamborghini. You'll be stuck spending a lot of time driving the kind of cars college students buy after browsing the classifieds until you do a lot of racing ... or pony up some real world cash, I mean Microsoft Points. Yes, you can skip all of the mundane racing on mundane tracks, spend some money, and then take your brand new Lamborghini out for a spin and dominate your next few race days.