Review by gun runner

"It is time to take it Underground!"

A review for Need for Speed Underground

Before I even purchased this game I knew it was going to be good. Don't listen to the people on the message board who tell you the game su><orz, because it doesn't. It may not be very realistic, and not have as many cars as other racing games, but it is still a very addictive arcade racer.

This game is based around the underground racing scene, where racers, well street race. It also has a major influence from the infamous films The fast and the Furious and 2 Fast 2 Furious.

Gameplay

This game is so furiously addictive and fun; you will not stop playing it until you have managed to complete it all.

You will be mainly playing Underground mode which pits you into the street racing arena. From the start you will have to pass an initiation test to gain some respect, and to be accepted into the racing clan. Once completed all too easily I must add (it is the first race though), you will be given a choice of 5 extremely slow cars. (Volkswagen Golf GTi, Honda Civic, Mazda MX5, Dodge Neon, Peugeot 206) They are in their basic stock form at the moment but it will not be long before you are modifying these cars to the max.

As you venture through all 111 races, you will soon get used to all the tracks. Some races you will be stuck on for days, others will be completed in a blink of an eye. Here is a list of all the different types of race:

Circuit: Your usual race around the city, usually containing around 3-4 laps, but on harder races up to 6 or 7 laps. For me the hardest kind of race

Drag: Probably the most exciting feature of the game. You will be pushing your car to the maximum over a one mile stretch, which is extremely exhilarating. The ends will be very close and taking over your opponent 1 second from the line is not unusual. When your ride is fully tricked out don't be surprised to reach speeds of up to 240 miles per hour. The speed physics are totally amazing as you brush past traffic, and exhilarating finishes are guaranteed.

Drift: Slide your car round a track to gain huge points, it all depends on how sideways and how fast you are. This is a fun alternative and can usually calm you from the other races.

Sprint: A start to finish race, you have no second chance to make up for lost time. You need to be very fast and very cautious not to crash.

Each of these is at one time or another merged into a tournament with usually 3 races in each. This is the main cash raiser so be sure to win it convincingly.

Of course in all types of modes you will be battling against other street racers. The A.I. in this game is good and is always going to give you a good race, but for one cheap trick. Catch up. When you are cruising along in first place about 10 seconds ahead of the next racer, do not be surprised that they are closing the gap at a rate that you will not believe. The game has an obvious rubber band effect and is really annoying (even if it does help you), but does the make the game a hell of a lot harder.

In every competition that you enter you will get style points for doing mad skills (near miss, lead lap, power slide) and these in turn will unlock new vinyls and secret cars. It is very easy to amass a load of style points in drift mode, where you are constantly power sliding. I will talk more about this in the car modification section.

After Underground mode is completed there isn't much else to do, except modify every car you have, and this is fun believe me.

9/10

Graphics

Wow is the common word when describing the graphics in Need for Speed Underground. The cars are really outstanding and could easily be compared to GT3. A lot of detail has gone into the city; everywhere is surrounded by buildings and freeways. The streets are really shiny like it rains every single day, and everything reflect off the black top. The lights can get quite annoying when speeding past them, as they have tracers and are very blurred to give the sense of speed. When entering a dirty surface, smoke will rise from your tyres, but will not reflect on your car or your tyres. When you switch on the nitrous however, this is when things get complicated. The motion blur is realistic, but can put you off. For some reason the surroundings turn a nice shade of blue, but it does feel like you are going faster. Nitrous is best kept for long stretches or the very end of a race. Overall very solid graphics, nothing to complain about.

9/10

Car Customization/Selection

This is the best part of the game, and you can make your ride look really sweet. You can choose from a massive array of bumpers, side skirts, spoilers, hoods, roof scoops and rims. You can then paint them with three different types of paints (gloss, metallic and pearlescent) from a number of colours. You can then make you car unique with a few vinyl, with well over 300 to choose from (once you have unlocked them of course). You can 4 different designs on your ride at once. For ultimate customization, you can put neon pulses under your car; change the head and tail lights and change the type of muffler tip and colour of window tint to what you want.

To unlock different types of vinyl, you must collect style points which I mentioned earlier. They unlock better vinyls, and as you upgrade your car visually this will get you a better reputation and get you more style points. The reputation meter is 5 stars (5 stars being the max) and depending on the amount of stars you have this will multiply any style points you get.

For a performance racing game, there isn't much to do under the hood. Upgrading your cars engine/exhaust system, drivetrain, tires, E.C.U and fuel systems, turbo, brake kits, weight reduction, suspension kits and the nitrous oxide is pretty exciting, especially when you have to unlock it in the races as a reward. Once all these are combined together your motor will be running really smoothly. You get three levels of upgrade, each one better than the next. Even though you get to select a brand package, this does not make a difference to the way the car performs. In my opinion I think you should be able to pay for extras by better makes, thus making your car more unique.

When selecting your car at the start you will have 7 cars to choose from main menu, and 5 in underground mode. Many of these are crap, but once you delve into the game they get progressively better. At the end there are around 20 cars, ranging from the Golf GTi to the almighty Skyline. This may not sound a lot compared to GT3 standards but it takes time to make each car individual to you. For some reason the Mx-5 is the best car in the game until around race 75, where you can upgrade to a S2000. (My favourite car)

Also for some reason the Lancer replaces the Lancer Evolution which is a much better car statistically. Anyways, one of the best parts of the game and one sure to draw you to buying Need for Speed Underground.

10/10 for car customization
8/10 for car selection

Sound

Nothing much to complain about here. The main menu music is actually quite good, and represents street racing. As you can guess most songs are about cars and racing. The sounds of the engines are different even though on some you can tell that they have been repeated. When you change gear you will get a sweet jerk, and when you pull away off the line your tires will squeal. Your tires will also do this when power sliding round a corner and the sound coincides with the type and speed of the skid. If you like you can change the tunes from the main menu, if they are annoying you that much, or if you want to hear the satisfying rev of your ride.

8/10

Controls

Absolutely beautiful. The response time is second to none and very crisp. Sometimes they can be a little too responsive, when only a little touch is needed. The Nitrous Oxide button is positioned well at L1 but you can customize this at any time. Only the look back button is a tad hard to reach when really needed (circle). Pressing select will reset your car back on the track at a nice speed of 0 miles per hour, and is only to be used after crashing very badly, unless you want the rubber band AI after you ;). Altogether a nice set of controls that are very easy to get used to.

10/<10

Replay value

Need for Speed Underground will take you around 2 weeks to complete, and the extremely hard races will get you tearing your hair out but there is always a way to beat the race if enough concentration is applied. After Underground is complete, you will have to play to over and over again to unlock all of Samantha's unique vinyls and get 4 million style points to unlock all the secrets. Also modifying each and every car is endless, as you can change everything to stock and start over. With a broadband connection and adaptor you can play online which increases the replay value dramatically, but there are numerous cheaters.

7/10

Buy/Rent

If you like any kind of racing game you will love this for its intense Gameplay, good graphics and unlimited customization. I would suggest if you are not a car lover to rent it and see what you think.

Overall

9 for Gameplay
9 for Graphics
10 for car customization
8 for car selection
8 for sound
10 for controls
7 for replay
8.7 Overall



Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/11/04


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