Review by WOODENSTICK
"Faster, Longer and Better. Welcome back to the Underground."
Need For Speed Underground 2 is a racing game in the same league as the "Midnight Club" series. Whereas the previous instalment of this game could be written off as any old racing game at a first glance, Underground 2 offers you a freedom only a handful of current games can offer you.
In the first underground game, you play as a newbie street racer and build your way to the top, literally. Need For Speed Underground actually allowed you to build your own car, and then race it - in several different types of races. This is also the case in UG2, except it takes it one step further in the car customisation department. Creating a totally unique car has never been so much fun. You have nearly limitless options - Neon, Rims, Headlights, Trunk Audio, Spinners... it goes on and on. Not only that, but UG2 also gives you the option to tune your car to peak perfection for the different types of races, plus get new engines and generally make your car preform better.
Another completely new feature to UG2 is the wide-open city, and by that I don't mean like in the first Underground where you raced in closed tracks in a city that you never have the chance to properly explore. You drive your car to different places, such as Shops, Races, and Special Locations.
This takes the place of a game menu in the previous game.
The races are longer and seem faster, And not only that, but you'll find the races slightly harder and the game as a whole will take longer to complete. Licensed parts, cars, and so much more. Underground 2 delivers so much more when we all felt the original was near perfect.
Graphics have vastly improved in this instalment. The cars all look nice, and the motion blur looks great too. Since the city is so big I was expecting for it to not be as up to standard as everything else, but it's really not that much of a big deal. This game requires quite a good computer to run flawlessly, even on the lower settings with a 128mb graphics card, you can expect some slowdown in some of the bigger races with lots of cars driving around the track.
Overall, the graphics in Underground 2 do the job nicely.
The soundtrack in the game varies quite a bit. And by that I mean it has good songs are really annoying songs. However there's bound to be at least one track you'll like. We still have yet to see an "mp3 player" option sadly, although you can play around with the soundtrack. The cars sound amazing. They sound just like they should and really show the power behind the car. Each model of car has a distinct engine sound as well, which I thought was a nice touch. The sound creates a nice atmosphere, and music aside, is nearly flawless.
As mentioned before, this game features a massive city that you can drive around in, look for races and generally have fun exploring. There are a couple of things that bother me about the gameplay, it is more a small complaint. Those who are familiar with the original Underground will know about the game's ability to pull out some totally random BS just when it looks like you're about to cream your opposition. The game places cars strategically on corners for you to crash into, and far from adding any positive depth to the game, its just plain annoying, especially when you're on the last lap of a 3-lap race on a 3-4km circuit. There is also this equally annoying catch-up system, which allows CPU cars to catch up to you if they fall behind too much. Spinning out on the last corner when you have driven a perfect race is not fun when 4 cars that you were previously 15 seconds ahead go right past you leaving you in last place. It's frustrating.
It's not all bad though. Longer courses and fewer laps make for more variety, and that's an improvement over the last game. This city is so vast to the point when it's almost irritating to have to drive from one point to a shop on the far side of the map. Having said that, I have no further quarrels with the gameplay. It's great, from the car modding to the driving to the overall atmosphere.
Underground 2 is a game worth playing again for only a small set of features, namely the car customisations. Doing the Career again is all well and good, but it's so long that you're more likely to be put off and just sit back and experiment with all the different custom parts for your previous cars. Its great game fro the first run through, but hen you do complete it you may want to give it a rest for a while.
Overall, I give this game an 8/10.
Underground 2 is a fun racing game I would recommend to anyone feeling the need for speed.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/21/05
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