|Need for Speed: ProStreet (2007)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Available for: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PS2
Good God, what the hell happened here? After two really exciting and fun to play entries in the “Need for Speed” series, we get this goofy, gutted thing of a game that dares to have the NFS name slapped on it? All the critics who complained about the storylines and characters in “Most Wanted” and “Carbon” might be pleased here, but if anything is to be learned from this episode it’s that this series has just been turned into another plain vanilla racing title. And all because Black Box decided to take the game off the streets and put it into a proper “legal” racing course setup. Complete balls, I say.
After all, we already have great games like “Forza 2” to take care of that sort of racing need. And that game excels in the category. “Need for Speed” has always been about the thrill of the chase and not just winning the race. Neutering it by sticking it into a formal racing atmosphere, in which the player is trying to make his way up the ranks so he can have a showdown with the bad boy of the sport is just, well…stupid, quite frankly. Part of what made both “Most Wanted” and “Carbon” so much fun was their over-the-top evil characters that you had to take down in succession. Now, gamers are treated to having all that stripped away in favor of a jackass announcer/MC (who would be better suited appearing in a Tony Hawk game than this title) yammering away during the race.
The NFS series has been around long enough now to have its ups and downs, but “ProStreet” is such an abrupt about-face that the end product just feels pointless. As a core racing game, yeah, it’s fine. But as I said earlier, other titles do everything that’s done in this game, only better. Unfortunately, even that stale old craze of drifting has invaded the game, and we all know that the “Project Gotham Racing” series already had that feature down pat years back. So then players are basically stuck with typical come-in-first-type races, time trials and drag matches that really aren’t very fun at all.
“ProStreet” also adds the option of letting the racers go in and tune their cars the way they like, or have it down automatically in pre-packaged deals. Wow. Is there absolutely nothing in this game that’s the least bit original? It would seem not. Thankfully, Black Box didn’t go full out and rip off anything from the great “Burnout” series, so at least racing game fans will have the next installment of that title to look forward to if they walk away from “ProStreet” as disappointed as I did. Who knows what the developers were thinking here by taking away the usual NFS magic, and deciding to make the game as unexciting and pointless as possible.
Even so, at its core there’s some decent racing to be done here, even if most of it feels monotonous and uninspired. Gearheads will undoubtedly flock to other titles to get their tuner racing thrills, but at least “ProStreet” isn’t the godawful disaster like “NASCAR 08” was. Still, there’s nothing here that begs to be played, and the overall experience of “ProStreet” is one of boredom. Perhaps Black Box tried too hard to make the series into something it’s not, or perhaps they just didn’t know what to do overall and threw darts randomly at an ideas board. What we have here is just a mess of a game, one that offers almost no rewards and is miserably stuck in its clone status. Rent it if you must, but don’t be surprised if you get tired of it before the afternoon is up.