Trying to fix something that isn’t broken is not a good move. In fact, I’d go so far to say that it’s a stupid move. Ultimately, I’d imagine that the developers of the latest Need for Speed title, Need for Speed: Pro Street, are now kicking themselves silly because they’ve taken a reputable, respected and generally very good racing title and ruined it with careless mistakes and thoughtless changes.
It’s not often I start off a review in such a bad light, and it’s a shame that I’m doing it for a title that I’ve come to know and love over the years. Generally, the Need for Speed games have been all about dodging the police whilst speeding around the streets in your car. Whether due to legal reasons, or just a change of heart, EA decided to take it a bit more permissible by basing the entire games racing setting on illegal street racers going legal. That means organised events with cars, on a closed off track – and no police. That was the first mistake.
The second is actually even worse. EA have decided to revamp the racing engine, something that in the last few Need for Speed titles has been pretty much spot-on. It appears that they’ve tried to create a sense of speed, a sense of hacking around a track at 120 MPH. Sadly, all they’ve done is made the cars stupidly hard to steer at anything other than a snail’s pace when turning corners. Mistake number two.
Visually the game looks great. There’s a lot of care and attention gone into the details of the fully licensed cars and the environments, but for some reason on the PS3 version of the game there’s a large amount of frame-rate dropping. Whether it’s the ‘sense-of-speed’ attempt that has gone wrong or if it’s generally struggling with the graphics I’m not too sure. Whatever the case, that’s mistake number 300.
Another major mistake is the loss of the free-roaming city. That’s partly come because the idea of the game is to race legally for a change, but the fact that you had the entire city to speed around in during previous Need for Speed titles is what made the latter ones so great! Why remove it?! Mistake number…what number are we on?
Maybe I’m being a little harsh on the title straight from the off. In all honesty, once you’ve come to get used to the fact that you simply can’t mow down a line of street signs and hack around a corner at 90MPH without losing a lot of speed, and your bonnet, then the racing isn’t too bad. I guess the real value in ProStreet is the car customisation. As expected, it’s quite in-depth. There are plenty of additions, both internally and externally, that you can fix to your car. Not only that, but there’s a huge selection of licensed vehicles from Toyota’s all the way to Lamborghini’s to customise.
Along with the great customisation comes an impressive new damage system. Carelessly ploughing your lovely new BMW Z4 into a wall (which you’re sure to do with the shocking steering system) will send particles flying and bumpers crumpling. A small reward for fooling yourself into thinking you can take the corner without slowing down so slow that you’ll feel like you’ve stopped.
The presentation on Need for Speed however, is something to be applauded only if you are the chav who owns that modified Ford Escort down my road! Each race is set out into race days. Winning the majority of the races during the day will send you to the winning post – unlocking more races and earning you money. The idea of the game is to earn your way into showdowns with the race ‘kings’ – ultimately crowning yourself the king at the end.
In theory, that’s not too bad, but if you then include the really annoying announcer – who pops his annoying voice up on almost every screen and during every race – along with the ultimate race king mocking you every time you win a race in a fashion similar to that moron at school you ended up punching, you’ve got yourself a formula that’ll quickly have you turning off your PS3.
Because there isn’t much else to do (e.g. there’s no free-roaming city to explore!) you can’t really avoid it too much. The entire development team seems to have just tried too hard to make a decent title, and changed key areas of their previous titles which simply shouldn’t have been changed. Sadly, this Need for Speed title is the first one for a long time that needs to be left on the shelf. Go back to what we had before EA, it’s much better.