CVG recently had the pleasure of taking the latest in EA's street racing series Need for Speed, Need for Speed: Pro Street, out for a spin on 360.
We charged our way through two courses in the game (you can read about those in our preview hitting these pages shortly) and then sat down with the producer at EA Blackbox, John Doyle, for a chat about what else the game has in store...
Early impressions of Pro Street is that it's more of a simulator that maybe seeks to take on Forza and Gran Turismo. Is that accurate?
John Doyle: We're definitely not looking to make a simulation. I think 'simulation' is a bit of a dirty word - there's some baggage involved in [simulations] in that it's punishing or not fun. What we wanted to hit here is a game that's believable. This is still Need for Speed. It's still pick up and play, and about having fun but we wanted some believability.
The cars and environments look very real, they behave with physics - the way you'd expect a real car to behave - and there's damage. That's the reason for the [emphasis on the] tyre smoke - realising the way that powerful cars burn out.
What we hope we're doing is carving out a new space in the genre in which the game is easy to pick up and play, it's fun and it's believable. But it's definitely not a simulator.
So what would you say to fans who so far think that maybe they won't get what they want out of Pro Street?
Doyle: One of the things we tried to do this time is build layers so the customisation system is like NFS games in the past where you can choose upgrade packages on a simple level and make your car go faster, or you can choose to go deeper into the customisation with the performance tuning.
The same goes for how you drive the game, so if you want to pick up and play the game like before, that level of control assistance is there by default and you can just floor it like before.
But if you want a greater challenge, turn some of those assists down and you'll drive the car the way the physics engine actually makes the car behave - it'll feel exactly like a real car.
We've tried to build this into every aspect of the game. There are layers and you define the experience that you want out of the game. If you want a traditional NFS experience it's there. If you want more of a detailed challenge, that's there too.
What online features will appear in NFS: Pro Street?
Doyle: We're going be rolling out more info on the online mode within the next month or two. All I'm able to say so far is that my philosophy when designing online modes is that it's all about playing with people that matter to you - things like having the scores reflected around people that you actually care about beating.
So it's not about being number 50,000 on a leaderboard of 150,000, it's about beating your friend, or seeing the scores of people you actually know.
Are you saying there won't be any worldwide leaderboards in the game?
Doyle: No, I'm not saying that. But it's just more about how we're focusing the online mode, it's all about friends - and I think you'll see that when we start to talk about the features that we've built this year. I think we've built some really unique online competition.
How many of the modes will be featured in the online mode?
Doyle: You'll have to wait until we roll more out on that later, but there are loads of variants of each mode and certainly every type of the main single-player mode will be online.