Need for Speed: ProStreet Review

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Game Title: Need for Speed: ProStreet
Developer: Electronic Arts
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: PSP
Download: 748 MB
NA Availability: Digital Download (PS3 Transfer Required)
EU Availability: Digital Download

Need for Speed has long since been a favorite of mine when it comes to the racing genre.  While it’s true that I have a love for Gran Turismo ever since a friend got me into that series, Need for Speed presents a nice level of street racing that really hits my racing itch, especially when I play open-world games.  As such, I’ve been knocking out Need for Speed reviews lately in the form of retro reviews of PSP titles, though that may eventually go into DS titles as well, given the amount of PSP NFS games not compatible with the PS Vita.

Unfortunately, Need for Speed Carbon was pretty much the only PSP open-world Need for Speed game I can review on the PlayStation side (and most of the DS Need for Speed titles are extremely rare to be able to find anymore).  So, with this next Need for Speed review, we go into a stage of the series where EA took their street racer and experimented taking it into the Racing Simulation genre.

Here is my retro review of the PSP title, Need for Speed: ProStreet!  (Do note that you need a PS3 to get this onto a Vita or PSTV by means of the PS3 Content Manager Workaround).

Story

The PSP title of Pro Street does not feature a story mode, so this section shall remain blank.

Gameplay

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Pro Street is a bit of a different racing game than the previous games of the series that I have reviewed.  I would call it a bit of a mix between racing simulation (like Gran Turismo) and an arcade racer.  There’s no open-world, so you’ll be doing all of your racing on set tracks without any traffic to worry about, cops to have chases with, and the main idea is the arcade-based style of racing, modding, racing, modding, etc.

First thing is first.  The PSP version of Pro Street is not the same game you’d find on the PS3.  It is, in fact, very different in nearly every aspect.  It has the same 46 main cars from the console version (but none of the Collector’s Edition or Bonus cars).  Aside from that, there are some exclusive features, such as Driver Personas.  They are like Assist Modes.  One gives you Full Assist, where the AI will line driving paths for you and apply brakes so you don’t have to.  The second gives you partial braking and the third is normal driving where you have to do everything.  Obviously, the more assist you use, the less money and rep you obtain from each race.

The overall feel and progression of the game is also different.  Pro Street console focuses on weekend events.  Pro Street PSP focuses on a campaign mode made up of race tracks and events around each race track. That isn’t to say there isn’t a lot to do, as there are 101 different races/events you can do across the game.  Just know the PSP version was intentionally made to be different from the console version (the PSP version released almost a year after the console version did).

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Progression is in the form of unlocking events and proceeding to doing everything there is to do.  When you first start you select one of a few cheap starting cars and you can jump into a number of events at a few of the game’s race tracks.  You race to gain money and reputation.  Leveling up rep unlocks new cars and events while money is used for buying new cars and upgrading current cars.

For those that like modding cars there are upgrades to purchase, but nothing extremely extensive.  You have your mods for Engine, Nitrous, Chassis, Handling, and other basic functions.  You won’t get anything near as extensive as the mods you get in Need for Speed 2015, but there’s enough that you can spend time working towards your upgrades after you buy a car instead of having to do special difficult races for upgrades like in the Most Wanted reboot.

With doing and re-doing events in mind, the Driving Persona feature encourages you to go through each race with each driving style.  You go in with Full Assist and win and the game will reward you and ask if you want to re-do the race on the next style.  I find this a good feature, allowing you to get a feel for the race and then do it three times for three times the reward, not to mention learning the race track for the next event in that location.

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Speaking of Events, you have a lot of event types, some of which are not in the console version.  You have your standard Circuit Races, but you also have Gate and Lap Knockouts, which I find much more exhilarating (every time you pass a checkpoint or do a lap, the person in last place is knocked out of the race and that keeps going until only 1 car remains).  These are also, given the arcade aspect, closed races.  You and your opponents and that’s it.  No cops.  No random traffic.  People who dislike the antagonistic AI in the new Need for Speed may find ProStreet PSP a nice change of pace in that regard.

As far as overall progression, that race, money, level up, race, etc is all there is to it.  You just keep unlocking and racing until everything that can be done is done.  It’s not nearly as “there’s an endless amount of things to do” like open-world racers, but it does have its charm in that simplistic menu system and jumping straight into races instead of looking around for them.

I wouldn’t put the difficulty up too high.  The starting races are pretty easy once you get a feel for your cars, and further in, things do get a bit more challenging.  I would not call it hard, though.  I found Most Wanted 2012 to be much more of a challenge.  It’s a fun game, but it’s not something a hardcore racing fan would have much issue with, outside the normal factors of learning courses.

With timee, there are 101 events.  Many early events can be completed in under 5 minutes, so going off that, you’ll be spending at least 8 hours in the process of playing through all events and unlocking everything.  That’s assuming you don’t re-do an event you like over and over for the sake of grinding for cash and rep.  And assuming you only do each event once, rather than 3 times a piece for the different driving styles.  Basically, you’ll have a lot to do.

Controls

First of all, this is the only PSP Need for Speed I’ve found, thus far, that is compatible with the PlayStation TV (others I have tested being Carbon and Shift which the latter cannot be put onto a Vita or PSTV).  This is a very good thing, as I had assumed it wouldn’t work since Carbon didn’t.  A happy surprise, you could say.

Controlling the game isn’t too hard, but the game does nothing to let you know how to play.  The D-Pad and Left Analog Stick are used for steering.  The L and R buttons are used for Nitrous Boosts and the Emergency Brake.  X is for acceleration and Square is the normal brake.  And that’s about all there is to it.  It’s pretty simple, but isn’t explained to you since the game has no form of tutorial.

Presentation

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Visually, the game’s pretty rough on the eyes outside of cinematics.  While it does look like a nice upgrade from the PSP version of Carbon, there are jagged edges all over the place, from the cars to the environments.  If you like your racers to be nice and crisp, visually, well, this isn’t that.

Performance, however, is great.  It’s got the same music as the console version (so expect a lot of hip hop despite not having a street racing theme to it), and the load times and frame-rate are very well-done.

Summary

Need for Speed: ProStreet’s PSP release shares the same dive from street racing as the series is known for to more simulation territory.  This version does have downsides, from no story mode, a lack of content, and being visually hard on the eyes.  If beautiful graphics aren’t a factor, it’s a fun little game that has the driving elements with a few extra features that did not appear in the game’s console version. 

7/10

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