Review by losszoul
"Burn the wheels!!!"
I'm not a racing game fan, but when I saw my friend playing Need For Speed: Underground 2 for the first time, I got attracted for one reason and another and decided to try it.
This is the first time I see a racing game which features a plot. Six months prior to the game's setting, the main character was a top-notch underground racer, but someone ended his career in a cruel way. Now he sets off to a new place to begin anew. Good plot, with all kinds of supportive characters to back the main driver up.
Before I knew this game, the only thing I can think about a racing game is all race with no breaks. First of all though, the exploration mode in NFS:Underground 2 is certainly a good entertainment when you need to take a break from races to races. Not only that, during this exploration mode, you can do all sort of things other than driving through the city, ranging from modifying your car to taking special offers like being featured in magazines. It's all fun, but unfortunately, after some time, the explorable area seem to feel too small, which is very unfortunate for such a great feature. Not to mention that you don't get to go everywhere from the get go; you have to win multiple races to actually gain access to the new areas. But well, what can we say if the game doesn't really focus on that...
Now, about your cars. You start out with one car only, but after time, you can add more cars to your garage. What's more, you can modify your cars in a lot of ways, starting from tuning it for the races to giving it nice visual touches. It may look fun at first, but these customizations are, implicitly, mandatory. And to make things worse, to make good customization, you have to do very well during the game to get more parts for your rides. Add that with the fact that you have quite limited resource for all those works, and this supposedly fun part becomes less attractive.
Onto the races. To start a race, you have to go to a certain place in the city, and this certain place may even be hidden, sometimes way too cleverly that finding it is mere luck. NFS:Underground 2 provides multiple types of racing, but with a catch: There's a set number of races to take, so once you finish all your favourite races, you're left with all bitter ones, which definitely hurts, though there's actually one more type of racing outside the ordinary ones but they are just tough as hell. Not to mention that during the game, sometimes some races are mandatory to advance through the game, and if that race is the kind you hate, you're toast. Also, to accompany the fact that this game provides limited amount of races, NFS:U2 will only take victories to consider whether you perform well or poorly, which will indirectly affect on how good your car can be.
Just like most other games of its kind and origins, NFS:U2 is quite fault intolerant; any single screw up you make or get will definitely cost you your victory no matter what. For example, most of the races in the game takes place in roads with traffic, and if you're so unlucky, you will bitterly witness your leading thrashed down into defeat just because of a stupid car which just drives into your way in a crossroads. Another example is that it gets extremely hard to control your car when it hits something, and that is just bad.
Thankfully though, this game offers multiple levels of difficulties which can even be set during the game (you don't have to restart your whole game), so that newbies who are not that expert yet in racing game can try this game in easy mode, while hardcore drivers can just challenge the hard mode. Great job.
What's great about the graphics is the way you can modify your cars. The fact that there are quite a lot of cars to choose from, and lots more of parts to accesorize your cars makes this game quite an eye-candy. Unfortunately, the environment isn't that close to being good, especially if you're playing it in a PC with not so good specification. Heck, in my case, some places have to be made dark for the game to play well, and that contributes to the difficulty...
Nice sound effects, good music, well done voices. It's hard to get better than this ^_^
Replay Value: 4/10
The car customization can't save this game from being not so attractive to replay. The single-way plot, single-way game flow, high difficulty level all contribute to this.
Such a shame. If only this game can feature more non-racing stuffs and more custom races other than that lone free race, I bet this game will become one excellent racing game. Still, this is a game you can add to your collection if you're an avid gamer.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/11/05, Updated 01/12/05
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