"IT'S NOS time!!"

Need for Speed: Underground is a video game title of EA Games. The game is all about racing in a suped-up import car at 300 KMs per hour against three other opponents. Reminds you of the movie 'The Fast and the Furious’ (Great movie), doesn't it? Many other companies have tried to copy its adrenaline packed races with its powerful NOS finishes. E.g. Midnight Club II, Burnout 2: Point of Impact. Need for Speed: Underground is another try at the same concept of underground street racing and it doesn't fail.

In this installment, EA Games have taken out the fancy companies like Lamborghini and Ferrari and replaced them with Japanese companies like Toyota and Mazda. Nearly every detail of the cars can be customized from the paint colours to the engine to the rims.
Ok. I suppose I have given you a good introduction of the game. Now let me start the review.
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Graphics: 9
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The graphics are, simply, as sweet as candy. All the cars look just like their real-life counterparts and as the tracks are nearly always wet, the cars will shine with reflections. The water particles are well textured and the tracks all look as though they are placed in a huge city. But the most interesting feature in Need for Speed: Underground is the motion blur. This is particularly noticeable when you activate your NOS. The result is a blur of the surroundings. It gives you a very good feeling of speed. The only problem is that because the reflections aren't updated often enough, they tend to look a little too choppy and also the frame rate falls occasionally when you use your NOS. The women who starts the race should've been better looking. Some of them look like they have no eyes!
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Audio: 10
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There are many soundtracks by famous artists like Nate Dogg, Lil' Jon and the Eastside Boys, Petey Pablo, Rob Zombie, Lost Prophets and The Crystal Method. The tracks all consist of rap and Heavy metal songs and if you like them, good for you! I surely do. I'm sure you'll find some that you like. The sound effects are pretty good too. The screeching of tires, the engine noise and the psssssssss of your NOS is sure to catch the attention of your ears. Never has any game produced so realistic crunches and grinds when shifting between gears. EA Games have done a pretty good job in this department. Thumbs up!
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Controls: 10
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The controls are like that of your regular racing game. The face buttons are for things like accelerating and braking while the shoulder buttons are for activating your NOS and shifting between gears. Easy as pie! Another job well done, EA Games!
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Game play: 8
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The game play! Heart of any game, old or new. The game play of a game is what really attracts players to a game and Need for Speed: Underground doesn't fail here. The career mode is called 'Go Underground' and this is the mode in which you unlock goodies and rewards like new cars and parts. There are 113 races and since there aren't 113 tracks in the game, it tends to get a little too repetitive. Most of the time you'll find yourself racing and drifting (Explained later) on the same stretch of road again and again but this is the only way to unlock the customisable parts so you have to complete this mode to reap the full benefits of a fully customized car. There are three different difficulty levels on each race. The more the difficulty, the more money you get after you win a race. Being able to do this is good because this way you can make the harder races easier thus allowing you to progress more quickly. The difficulty level doesn't matter when it comes to unlocking goodies. The game places a heavy emphasis on the customisation of your car. The money you earn is then used to buy parts to customize your car like vinyl stickers, front and rear bumpers or performance upgrades. The visual upgrades are for increasing your reputation multiplier. You need a good reputation if you want to unlock Style Point rewards more quickly. Style points can be acquired by doing stuff like taking a short cut, power sliding or getting head start in a race. The Style Point rewards consist mostly of Vinyl stickers and some unique cars.
Need for Speed: Underground has a good variety of racing modes such as circuit racing, drag, sprint, time trail, drifting and lap knockout races. The circuit races are your regular lap races and your objective is to cross the finish line first after a set number of laps. The drag races (My personal favourite!) have you racing in a straight line and your objective here is to shift the gears at the right time. It may seem easy but when the traffic comes in, the race can become a ride through hell itself. Sprint is a race from point A to B with three other opponents. Time trail races are like your sprint races only they are timed and there are no other opponents. Drift races cannot really be called races as you only have to get style points by sliding. The lap knockout races are your typical circuit races. The only difference is that the racer placed on the last position is eliminated from the race.
If only the career mode and racing tracks had been better, then I would have given it a 10.
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Replay value:9
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There is a lot of replay value in this game and as the career mode has 113 races, you'll be occupied for many hours trying to unlock the goodies. Even after you finish it, the drag races are sure to attract you back for some more.
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Buy or rent?
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This game surely deserves a rent and if you are a fan of arcade style racing games or the movie 'The Fast and the Furious', this one should be on your wish list.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/01/04


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