What’s more annoying is the whole ‘street attitude’ of the thing. I can see why it’s there, and the graffiti graphics, the race-day atmospherics, the flag-waving bimbettes and the MC commentary do give the game a buzz that similar racing titles are usually missing. All the same, the music, the repetitive dialogue and the constantly in your face style really do grate on your nerves after a while. At its worst, playing ProStreet is a bit like playing Forza 2 in a teenager’s bedroom while some ropey dance/indie/emo/nu-metal compilation blasts out of the stereo at full volume and MTV’s playing loud in another room. Were I fifteen years old I might think differently, but all this stuff actually hindered – not helped – my enjoyment.
On the plus side, ProStreet does have two major saving graces. First, there’s not anywhere near as much competition on the PS3 or PC as there is on the 360 for this sort of thing. If you got this in preference to PGR4 or Forza then I’d say you were mad, but PC gamers who fancy something that sits in between Need for Speed: Most Wanted and GTR2 might get some mileage out of this one, as could PS3 owners looking for a game to keep them going until GT5 swings around. Secondly, EA has put a lot of effort into the online modes. It’s easy to find and join an online ‘Race Day’ or create your own, and you can also upload and download shadows to compete against, car blueprints to do time trials in and a host of other goodies. In this respect, ProStreet is only just behind Forza 2 on features. The action, meanwhile, seems to be relatively lag-free.
Still, overall the new direction has done little to stem the downward slide the Need for Speed series has taken since the much-loved Most Wanted. What EA seems to have missed with both ProStreet and Carbon before it is that what we really want isn’t a bold departure or a return to Underground form, but a bigger, better Most Wanted with more locations, more variety and a little more finesse. I can’t blame ProStreet for not being that game, but taken on its own merits it simply doesn’t deliver the right amount of speed, spectacle or fun. It’s a solid game – even a fine one from time to time – but it’s not a game to get all that excited about. And excitement is what we need to see from Need for Speed when it resurfaces again in twelve months’ time.
Need for Speed goes straight, but the thrills have gone AWOL. ProStreet is a competent attempt to take the series upmarket, but can we have the old bad boy glamour back next time?