It’s not too difficult to see just why the "hardcore" gaming fraternity has fallen out of love with the Need For Speed series. While a semblance of the old street racing combined with avoiding the long arm of the law remains, the shockingly irritating "story" and the kind of "Pimp My Ride" stylings that has most of us reaching for the sick bucket, turns a lot of us off quicker than a naked Bill Bailey.
This year then, EA have aimed to ever so slightly drift back to the real roots of the series. Thankfully a large portion of the chav loving blinged up motor style has been trimmed away, and we’re left with what concievabely could be a decent rival to Forza Motorsport and Project Gotham Racing 4.
Sadly, Need For Speed: ProStreet meanders into mediocrity almost as soon as you switch the game on.
What you’ll initially be aware of are the slightly dodgy visuals. The cars themselves are moderately attractive, and can be customised to your hearts content as always. Plus for fans of said pimpage of their vehicles, there’s masses of options available to tweak, change, and colour in whatever gaudy neon like disgustingness you could ever desire. Sadly the backdrops for each track are a little more drab and colourless.
The cars themselves while gaudily coloured, make up for their odd looks by finally finding themselves with the kind of weight and inertia that makes driving actually, well, fun. You can fling your motor around corners with devilish wonder, and it’s the beating heart that makes Need For Speed: ProStreet a reasonable drive.
The handling itself seems to be stuck between the staunch realism of Forza Motorsport 2, and the arcadey goodness of Project Gotham Racing 4. The problem being that fans from both sides will find niggles with the drive, and hence ProStreet treads that murky line of attempting to cater for everyone, but not satisfying anyone. Toss in two tiers of driving assistance too, and the edges get even more muddied.
The single player mode packs in the standard driving modes, with races aplenty to test your driving "skillz" with. However, in order to still cater to the kind of Need For Speed fan that sees tracksuit bottoms as a fashion do for a night out, a mass of different varieties of extra challenges are made available.
Biggest bore award has to go to the drag races which are just obscenely dull. First you need to warm up your tyres by keeping them spinning in the designated zone by prodding the accelerator for a few seconds. Next, you hold the accelerator for the 10 second long track, with a little bit of right stick fiddling to move up through the gears. And that’s it. No twisting or turning. Just holding a button for 10 seconds. Thrill a minute stuff.
Need For Speed: ProStreet is a tricky one. On the one hand it is indeed fun. The driving model, once you realise its many failures, is a joy to work with. But the drab aesthetics and huge number of dull encounters you’ll need to contend with drag things right back down to mediocrity.
It’s certainly not going to challenge the big hitters, so this ones only for staunch fans of the series brightly coloured heritage.