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The Need For Speed series is the enduring franchise of the street racing - car customing craze. Other games had been more directly linked to movies such as The Fast and the Furious, but the Need for Speed from EA managed to provide gameplay to match the highly styled visuals.
Pro Street represents a move towards the more casual family audience and away from much of the dark racing underbelly of the previous games.
Racing games, although sometimes seen as a sporting sub category, are a well established video game genre in their own right. They can feature a variety of driving styles ranging from the fantastical arcade racing focusing on thrills and spills, to the super realistic simulations that recreate every aspect of real life driving.
Need For Speed focusing on the cars as legitimate characters in game. Rather then, as in other EA titles, customising the driver here you spend time honing the look and feel of your ride. In game proper too the focus is on the various vehicles and teams rather than the drivers behind the wheel.
Earlier games in the series were criticised for being style over substance, but this has been addressed as the games developed. The driving experience sits somewhere between the arcade racing of Burnout and the customisable simulation of Forza.
A feature of many of the games in the series is an overworld map that can be explored. The races (usually at night) than start and stop seamlessly from this environment, something that adds to the games underground racing intentions.
The most recent game Pro Street, seemed to attempt to widen its appeal. Races were now held largely in the daylight, and the number of skimpily glad females was toned down. To simplify the game structure you progressed from one distinct track to the next, without the linking overworld environment previously provided.
Gamers are attracted to the series for its brash style and affinity to the underground racing scene. The thrill of joining an illegal race through a night lit city was certainly exhilarating - particularly when you were rumbled by the local constabulary. Car customisation is another attraction, although this has now been eclipsed by other racing games such as Forza.
This is a racing game that tends towards the arcade end of the spectrum. Whereas simulation style games require time to be invested learning how each car drives, most players should be able to get going here with minimal time investment. An extended experience is available through various career progression options where you obtain new cars and teammates by performing well in a series of races.
The general street style of the game may make it unsuitable for the very young. That said, later versions of the game consciously limit this to the mini-skirted girls on the grid lineup and even are hidden on the more family friendly Wii version.
Novice gamers shouldn't find the driving too taxing although older players may find the cut scenes and images a little juvenile in a lad mag kind of way.
Expert gamers who are comfortable with the street racing setting have plenty to get their teeth into here. But those looking for realistic driving or more automativley mature approach should probably look elsewhere.
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