Review by potator

"Buckle up everyone, it's time to win some more races, and look good while doing it."

Need For Speed Underground 2. EA decides to make a sequel to one of the hottest selling games of 2003. With as many racing games out nowadays, especially with the illegal street racing theme, competition is getting tough. This is where EA shows everyone out there who does it best.

I initially bought this game because I wanted a fresh racing game to play. Not something where I have to spend 2 weeks just to learn the controls to play, a la Gran Turismo. I wanted a racing game where I could pick up and play - and also put it down whenever I want. I looked for a game that gives me a feel like I'm at the arcades - something that gives me gratification every second I'm playing it. I found all of these features and more in EA's NFS:U2.

The game starts off with some basic options. You have your usual quick arcade racing modes, career modes, and it also has online multiplayer as well. To start off, the career mode has been majorly revamped from the previous game. This time, you get a free-roaming city - all 125 miles of it. It is somewhat similar to the Grand Theft Auto series where you are allowed to go anywhere you want and check out the city for all it's worth. I've already been driving around this city for 10 hours, and still can't seem to remember where anything is, because it is so massive in size. The way career mode works is really neat and adds a sense of realism because everything is executed by actually doing the events yourself. Say for example, you want to upgrade your car by adding some extra horses under the hood. Previous racing games usually had you go to the options, then go to the performance tab. But that's not how it works in this neighborhood. Here, you have to drive yourself to the actual performance shop to get the goods. Same thing goes for body shops, specialty shops, you name it. You first start off with a fairly low-powered vehicle, then work your way up to the supercars by winning races and sponsors. The way racing works in the career mode is very intuitive and original as well. Of course there are the 'traditional' races -
the ones that you see in your options that you can just choose to drive to and enter. But the real new addition that players should keep their eyes on are the "outrun" races. These races are the ones that can happen anywhere, anytime. It's can be as random as you'd like it to be. After cruising around the beautiful digital city of Bayview, you will sometimes pass by another
car that is tricked out and driving extremely fast. If you catch up to these cars, you can then challenge them to a race.. right there from a roll! The race starts immediately and the way to win is to "outrun" the other racer by getting in front of them, and putting as much distance between you and him as you can, then holding it for a minute or two. It's very refreshing to see developers add in real life events such as these, as any car enthusiast will know they've had real "outrun" events at least sometime in their driving lifetime. But it doesn't stop there. You better make sure you know what you're going up against before you challenge them, because if they win, you lose your cash. But of course you also win their dough if you win, so finding a lot of outrun races isn't bad at all.

So how's the multiplayer, you ask? Well in one word, it's fun. Very fun. The online portion of the game is one of the most addicting multiplayer games I've played. It's cool enough just to see what other players have done to their cars and voice chat with them about it, but when you actually get to go head to head and race your machines against each other, the experience is
absolutely awesome. With up to 6 players racing it out for the glory in the energetic streets of Bayview, it's really hard to put the controller down. But this doesn't mean the multiplayer is flawless, though. The game has it's share of bugs and glitches, probably because the developers tried to get the game out in time for the Christmas season. Sometimes, accidents register out of nowhere, cars drop while floating in mid air before races begin, and other minor problems. But rest assured, as these errors are extremely rare to come by, and even if they do, they don't cause enough of a problem to alter your gaming experience.

The graphics in this game are done pretty well. While the car models may not be as detailed and pretty as those found on some other racers, it definitely does not disappoint. The colors used in this game are fantastic, and the lighting effects are some of the best found on the PS2 ever. With subtle raindrops falling on your camera and the streets, the reflections your car makes with the headlights are marvelous. The game almost completely takes place during the night, many times of which are also raining. The city comes to life with gigantic skyscrapers and other huge buildings full of lights. And of course EA's famous way of giving the player the sensation of speed is back, and better than ever. Just letting your nitrous oxide rip away during a race will give you a whiplash.

The sounds in this game are also well done. The music in this game consists of genres such as hip hop, techno/trance, and punk rock. The music found here has something for everyone, with different tastes. All of the songs fall right in place, except for the punk rock songs which seems a bit odd for a game like this. However, EA was smart enough to include an useful playlist editor in their options, where you can customize which songs are played and when. Sound effects are average, and doesn't offer anything new. But it also doesn't bore me to death either. The voice acting in this game is quite funny. It seems the voice actors tried too hard to sound 'ghetto', and it just feels awkward hearing it.

In conclusion, this game is definitely worth at least a rent, of if you're a racing fan, then you might as well just go out and buy it with no questions asked. This game delivers where it matters most, gameplay. You can bet you'll be playing this game for hours on end, especially once you're done with the career mode, you can jump right into the multiplayer for endless more hours of street racing mayhem.

Strengths:
+ Single player is deep, and simple at the same time
+ Endless creations available to customize your car
+ Multiplayer and online multiplayer adds longevity to the game

Weaknesses:
- Has a few minor glitches and bugs that should have been fixed before release
- There are prettier racing games out there
- Voice acting and the fictional characters are pretty terrible


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/03/05


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