Need for Speed: ProStreet
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Developer: Electronic Arts
We weren't big fans of the home console versions of Need for Speed: ProStreet that appeared late last year - with Tom opining, essentially, that if you're going to release a racing game it'd probably be a good idea to let players steer the damned cars, before slapping a 5/10 on the game's twitching corpse. Predictably, it sold millions.
It's a little surprising, then, that the PSP version has taken so long to appear - we had anticipated a quick cash-in by just throwing the mystifyingly popular PS2 version onto a handheld version and hoping for the best. Instead, the PSP version has been somewhat reworked, although not necessarily with the best intentions.
Utterly lacking any kind of plot - and abandoning the whole idea of illegal street racing in favour of hurtling your souped up penis-size compensation machines down a variety of real-life and imaginary race courses - the game's career mode is purely a series of straightforward races. Take part and you get to modify your cars; arguably the series' core appeal in recent years, and one which ProStreet certainly doesn't ignore, with extensive (albeit sometimes not terribly noticeable in gameplay terms) modifications on offer.
The game's chief addition over the previous versions is that you can choose a character - or rather, a difficulty level - to play as, with lower difficulty levels adding driving assists for you. It also adds a new feature (new to ProStreet, not new to racing games), which warns you if you're going too fast into a turn, and suggests an optimal driving line.
These additions, however, are just a sop to what remains the biggest problem with ProStreet - namely that driving the cars themselves is about as much fun as climbing on board a cow and encouraging it to run straight at a wall. The earlier models in the game steer like oil tankers - and in order to proceed to later cars, which improve matters somewhat, you'll need to come first in a litany of boring, frustrating races against ludicrous AI that wilfully shoves you off the track, but then appears to be concreted to the floor when you try to return the favour.
Moreover, for everything added to the PSP version, something has been taken away - leaving the game stripped down to a basic core of career mode, single race events, and a handful of tracks. It's dull, it's lacklustre, and it entirely betrays the series' name by having no perceptible sense of speed. With the PSP absolutely drowning in a pool of brilliant racing games, there's absolutely no reason why you should bother with this.