Skip navigation

Need for Speed: Prostreet


The Need for Speed series started on the Xbox 360 in the form of Need for Speed: Most Wanted and the following year brought forth Need for Speed: Carbon. I've played both of these titles and was ready to see if Electronic Arts made any improvements with Need for Speed Prostreet. Prostreet's main story revolves around a budding street racer that wants to compete in a Race Week event. I was shocked to see Electronic Arts took further steps to further sterilize the story elements that made NFS: Carbon barely tolerable.

Prostreet offers up an incredibly generic experience that focuses solely on track racing and nothing else. The main character doesn't even take off his / her motorcycle helmet for the entire game. The developers try to pitch a villain of sorts in the form of a top tier racer that gets all the fame, but treats everyone like dirt. Not only is that perhaps the worst villain of the entire series, but the story collapses upon each repetition of his brief appearances. The developer essentially ripped out all the entertaining elements of the past two Need for Speed games and left us a pathetic excuse for a story.

Gameplay

The single player mode is broken up into a collection of race groupings that exist on a map that essentially tracks your career as a professional racer. Generally groups contain a variety of races, some of which have been seen in previous need for speed titles. It's up to the player to select which races they wish to compete in to progress and the game allows for 1 to 2 races to be completely skipped. If you do wish to complete everything, that's shown on the map as totally dominating that specific day. Keep in mind that the damage model is persistent over the entire day, so the occasional repair will be needed if your ride gets into a few scraps along the way.

The quickest path to race day completion is always choosing the drag races. These races pay well and are quick to finish. You have to race three times against a computer chosen opponent, but are really competing for the top position among a large group. The drag strip also requires you to master tire spinning before each race to heat up the rubber on the wheels. This will shave seconds off your time if properly executed. Unfortunately, it becomes tiresome after several races and strangely makes you repeat the process even after the tires are sufficiently warmed up. By comparison to the previous NFS titles, this drag strip is extremely boring. It made me long for the days of zipping through high speed traffic while narrowly dodging oncoming vehicles.

The rest of the races are a fairly standard affair. There are plenty of checkpoint style races as well as knockout and lap races to choose from. There is a sector race that's tough to understand at first, but fairly tricky to win consistently. It awards points based on the time you pass certain checkpoints. Points are only awarded to one car per section based on the fastest time. It also favors the car up front if you are playing on a tough level of difficulty. This can be a problem later in the game as the competition increases dramatically in the late stages of the title.

I found the car customization options to be far too confusing for the casual gamer. Tweaking gear ratios is not my idea of run and it makes me wonder why EA would include such a feature targeted at a small audience. Purchasing new parts for your favorite ride wasn't as much fun as the previous titles either. The simulation approach to the process really bogs down the player in far too many details to be entertaining.

The multiplayer features are certainly groundbreaking by EA standards. They included ways to create your own race day, complete with specific events. You can compete in your own race day or just kick back to watch others compete. Additionally, you can upload your favorite blueprint and other Live users can download it to try out in their game. While not a unique feature, I certainly applaud EA for attempting to bring the Live community together in a different fashion. I found actual racing to be a bit suspect as times. Perhaps I was getting stuck with bad connections, but I had several lag filled races on separate occasions.

The achievements are broken into 48 tasks for a total of 1000 gamerscore points. Running the gambit on the entire set will require an extensive amount of time invested in the title. Many of the larger point achievements are awarded for completing career goals and approximately 80% of the points are awarded via the single player game. Multiplayer offers a few achievements, but several are viral in nature. Tasks such as beating an EA moderator in a race or having a Top 100 player use your car blueprint seem to be tough to grab without specifically knowing said player.

Graphics

The car models really look fantastic on the Xbox 360, but the tracks couldn't possibly be blander. Perhaps itís the desert / forest locales and stereotypical model of race week, but the environment is a far cry from the detailed cities of the previous two NFS titles on the 360. The monotony of the scenery definitely creates a boring, uninspiring atmosphere to compete in. The game is light on the special effects, but does offer up a decent damage model for the car. While nowhere near the level of detail in a game like DiRT, Prostreet offers its fair share of crushed windshields and crumpled bumpers. Finally, the EA developers really dropped the ball on the framerate of the title. The evident slowdown screams of a development cycle cut far too short. The hitching can affect races, especially those that run down to the final lap.

Audio

The tunes are on par with the previous titles, but the racing announcer is a hellish demon whose only purpose is to scream in ridiculous tones and accentuate unnecessary details. The drag races are specifically annoying, especially during the warm-up. The horrific voice work grates on the ears throughout the entire game and serves almost no purpose for those attentive to the race at hand. The sound effects for each car are excellent though. Dependent on the tuning of your ride, the engine will whine differently and modify the shifting sound. Each model has a moderately unique sound which is especially apparent during the final stages of the game.

Conclusion

NFS Prostreet is a highly polished title, but completely absent of entertainment value. Strangely opposite of most franchises, the Need for Speed series has taken a rapid decline since the release of Need for Speed: Most Wanted in the first year of the Xbox 360. It's progressively becoming a game that's all shine, but no true substance. By removing fan favorites like police chases, solid storyline and an open world aspect, the developers on Prostreet have stripped the series down to a hollow shell. There's a modicum of folks that attend events like Race Week that may enjoy the structure of the game, but it's quite dated and sadly boring for the rest of us. If you just can't stay away, rent Prostreet to get a feel for what I talking about. Otherwise, stick to titles like Test Drive Unlimited until Electronic Arts gets it right.