Review by Cyberdragon3695
"Solid sequel, but not the same as its precursor"
+New race modes and physics
+Beyond superb car customization system
-Open city format very annoying
-Career mode boring fast
-Lacks charisma of original
Need for Speed has always been a highly popular street racing series. EA's recent hit, Underground, sold multi-platinum and is still strong today. Of course, we knew there'd be a follow up, right? Well, there was, and I'm glad to say that it was worth the wait. However, I don't think it's all that it could have been.
This is always the most important factor in rating a game. NFSU2 does deliver in this area. Instead of the linear setup of the last game, you're now thrown in to a large open city to find races and car upgrade shops yourself. While this seems cool at first, you'll soon find yourself likely fed up with constantly darting from one end to another, driving mindlessly through roads in order to find a shop you need for that performance upgrade you want. It's a concept that honestly hurt more than it helped.
As far as the racing itself, it's better than ever. Along with the four major types of racing from the first game, four more have been thrown in (Lap Knockouts are not in Career Mode now). They are Street X (Street Cross), Downhill Drift, League races, and Outrun. While cool, some of these were simply upgrades to former modes. Downhill Drift is simply in an organic environment, and league races are just on closed tracks. Street X is basically racing circuit on a drift track, and didn't do much for me. The totally new one is Outrun. When you find other racers driving in the open city, you can come behind them and challenge them. The first to go 1000 feet ahead of their opponent wins. The system for it needs a bit of help, but it could get interesting, because the computer actually knew what it was doing! (sarcasm)
The racing mechanics have been enhanced for a more realistic feel. This is welcome, actually, since I often found the odd feel of the first game to be a bit of a drag. There's also a tuning system now, so you can tweak and test your car until its just right. AI's never been much of an issue for this series. While not the brightest opponents in the world and somewhat rubberband, the computer does know its way around the track and will show aggressiveness back if you take a hit or two on them.
As always, customization is back and better than ever. There's little that you can't tweak on your car. Building on before, new categories such as side mirrors, hydraulics, headlight color, and even stereo systems can be added to your car. The only gripe I have is the visual rating system. It often forces you to have certain parts instead of the ones you want to have.
Basically, this game is fine in the gameplay department, but feels more like a NFSU 1.5. Not that that's a bad thing, but it doesn't feel as fresh as a game like Midnight Club 3.
The graphics in this game are good. Environments and car models are good looking though not horribly detailed. One thing I did enjoy about the city was that it felt alive and each section had a unique feel. The hilly Jackson Heights felt much more secluded then the City Center area. I really don't have much to say here. The only problem is that it doesn't feel like the sense of speed is as great as before. Sure, nitrous gives it to you, but it just doesn't feel as fast paced as before.
I've always enjoyed the sound in the NFSU series. Loud car engines, horns from motorists, screeching tires... it's all here. The real highlight of EA games is always the officially licensed soundtrack. The rap was excellent, and the rock is adequate. It just doesn't feel as interesting as before, though. Still, great sound effects and excellent soundtrack.
Replay Value: 7/10
Actually, I can't say that I'll find myself replaying this game's career mode much more than once. Once you have all the parts are all unlocked, you can customize as many cars as you want for free and can pit them out against other AI cars in single player races without the hassle of the city. I even structured a more interesting career challenge by myself! Just can't see anyone playing more than a couple times through.
I like this game. I like it a lot. However, EA didn't push itself as hard as it could have in making this game the ultimate street racer. It was a good effort, but they could have done away with the annoying open city and released one that was more like the original. But then again, I'd be complaining that it wasn't original... Doesn't matter. This game is great.
BOTTOM LINE: Need for Speed Underground 2 is a great game that fans of the original and street racing fans in general will want to pick up. However, this game doesn't execute itself with the finesse and ambition of the original, making it feel overall drab. DEFINITELY worth a rental, most will probably buy it.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/23/05
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