If Electronic Arts can be trusted for one thing, itís for taking popular franchises and running with them for as long as humanly possible. In doing so, a lot of its games have been seen in a negative light before anyone has had the chance to play them properly. The Need for Speed
series has been one of the casualties of this Ė originally focused on speed racing in souped-up cars, the slow introduction of police chases, urban culture and turf wars was a transformation that has had mixed reactions in the game's 13 year history.
The last iteration, Carbon
, was an enjoyable race around a massive city. It was interesting to see how close EA had made the game to the urban car-modding world associated with films such as The Fast and the Furious
. Even more interesting, then, that EA has decided to follow the state of car culture with ProStreet
to help make the next instalment as realistic as possible.
Funnily enough, in doing so, EA's Blackbox studio has somehow taken the series back to where it all began Ė the open highways, different states and taking on rivals as you do your speedy thing. Focusing on professional street racing, NFS ProStreet
has you, the plucky race driver, taking on various different events around the world for prize money. These will be divided into 'race weekends' that include several alternative races in a championship style.
The only types of event I got to see when I went to EA's U.K. offices to try my luck at ProStreet
were speed racing and drift challenges. There are certain to be more, however, each with a different approach of play that will force you to be skilled in all areas if you want to make your mark.
The speed challenge took place in a desert area, and the graphics have been vastly improved since Carbon
. The cars certainly look impressive, but what are even better are the graphical effects EA has added to really give you that sense of speed. Smoke is a major element to playing the game in ProStreet
; revving up will result in a mass of exhaust fumes covering your screen and warping your vision. You can use this to your advantage though, screwing up the opponent's view behind you to lead them blind into a cliff or other danger.
The camera has been altered so it captures the essence of the race, as well. As you zoom away from the start line the camera backs off a little and starts wobbling ever-so-slightly when you drive over unstable terrain. Add in the very light but noticeable rumble that occurs in your controller and you end up quite literally on the edge of your seat in the first few plays. I had a blast racing around canyons and trying hard not to get pulled off the main road onto the dirt at the side - donít know if that was something yet to be ironed out, a performance oddity in that particular machine or if thatís how your car would realistically act if going at 150mph down a straight.
That was something I had to bear in mind when playing this stage. At the speed we were going, should I hit something, the car would have been completely totalled. This is another improvement EA is making to the game, in the form of realistic damage. In his presentation, producer John Doyle discussed at length how damage impact is one of the most requested features for the Need For Speed