Need for Speed: ProStreet -- Xbox Live Demo Hands-On

Two events, unlimited speed. We check out the XBL demo for EA's upcoming racer.

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With the upcoming release of EA Canada's Need for Speed: ProStreet, is it any wonder that an Xbox Live demo of the game could be that far away? If you guessed "no," then award yourself 10 meaningless points, because you are correct! We took an early build of the two-event demo out for a spin recently to see how the folks at EA will be enticing racing fans to pick up ProStreet when the demo hits XBL later this month.

In speed challenge events, things can go wrong…quickly…with the slightest miscalculation.
In speed challenge events, things can go wrong…quickly…with the slightest miscalculation.

In true demo fashion, the downloadable ProStreet is merely a taste of what to expect from this revamped racing game. The demo features two events, a speed challenge on the Nevada Highway and a grip challenge on the A-43 interloop. Other race event types that will be part of the full game--such as drag racing and drift competitions--aren't found in the demo.

The grip race is the most straightforward of the events in the game, a two-lap dash against seven other opponents on a course that we've played several times before. The car available for the race is a Nissan GT-R Proto, a quick little number that handles the relatively simple turns of the speedy course well. Even at the toughest difficulty level (and there are three you can choose from for both events in the demo: casual, racer, and king), this race isn't much of a challenge. Instead it seems like a nice introduction to the more realistic car physics that ProStreet will be exhibiting. Unlike in the freewheeling speed challenge event (more on that in a bit), the cars feel tight and responsive in grip events. For racing newbs, ProStreet even uses a Forza-like color-coded racing line assist that shows you the ideal line around a corner, as well as when to use the gas and brakes.

While speed challenge races can take place on circuit tracks (like the Autobahn-inspired course featured in our last look at the game), the event in the ProStreet demo is a point-to-point track from the Nevada desert. Unlike grip races, however, speed challenge events feature long straights and more gentle curves. Don't mistake the tracks for easy, however; the tracks can be extremely narrow, with dangerous obstacles lining the road just waiting to give you a firsthand look at ProStreet's extensive damage modeling. As a speed challenge event, crossing the finish line first isn't necessarily your first goal; instead, you win the event by making sure your car has the highest top speed going through the various checkpoints on the course. The highest total speed at the end of the road is declared the winner. For the speed challenge, we drove the BMW M3 E92; at the start of the race, you get a firsthand look at the gorgeous smoke model as you spin the tires waiting to take off from the line.

While the M3 and the Nissan GT-R Proto are the only cars available in the demo to start with, EA will be unveiling the new 2009 Nissan GT-R in the demo. The car will be available (and will automatically replace the GT-R Proto) when you log on to Xbox Live via the demo on October 23, coinciding with the GT-R's unveiling at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show. Look forward to the new GT-R and the ProStreet demo later this month, ahead of the game's release on November 13.

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