Review by Amakusa42

"I got the need... The Need For Speed."

Okay, I confess… I loved the Fast and the Furious. It had nothing to do with the hot women who appeared in the movie, but rather from seeing the tricked out rides that racers were using. Naturally, the success of the film (and its inferior sequel) had videogame companies scrambling to put out a licensed version of the game. All companies except EA, which decided to make a new version of its already established racing series. The result is Need for Speed Underground.

GAMEPLAY

If I have one real complaint, it is that the entire game takes place in one city. It’s a huge city, with lots of varying tracks, but it’s still just ONE city. A slight change of scenery, such as a desert or perhaps a more rural setting, would have gone a long way to add some variety. Also, the entire game takes place at night, just after a rainstorm. While this makes for great graphics, especially on the X-Box version, it does tend to get a little repetitive.

Still, there are a lot of race types to play. Aside from the ordinary Circuit type seen in most other races games, there is also Sprint (get from one end of the city to the other as fast as possible), Drag (where the best shifter wins), Time Attack (As Sprint, but you race against the clock instead of other people), and Drift (where you attempt to rack up points with massive powerslides). The nice mix of race types does keep things interesting. They story mode is called Underground mode, where as an up and coming underground racer, you attempt to gain fame and fortune… Blah Blah… … You know, classic stuff. The important point is Underground mode actually gives you things to unlock aside from just cash, such as turbo upgrades, vinyls, paints, rims, and spoilers. There are far too many things to list in one review, but there are a lot.

So what are all those things for? Car customizations. Ever wanted to create a car that would make Brian’s car in 2 Fast 2 Furious look slow? Real licensed cars such as the Honda Accord, Subaru Impreza, and the Nissan Sentra can all be totally tricked out. Paint it a base color, the slap decals to jazz it up. Don’t forget to add paint to your break calipers and rims, with a touch of Neon to light the road as you pass. There are literally thousands of combinations you can mix, leaving the exact style of your car for you to define.

Of course mods don’t only refer to what’s on the car, but what’s in it. New suspension, weight reduction kits, turbo packages, and NOS (of course) can all be added to your car. Want to make a Golf go faster than your run of the mill Neon? Slap a few of these upgrades into it and watch the Neon from your rearview mirror. Special mention/gripe should be made of the PS2’s online mode. The addition of it adds hours of replay value to the game, so much that the people at EA Games are complete idiots for leaving it out of the X-Box version.

GRAPHICS

A lot of detail went into this game, and it shows. No hint of slowdown mars this package, and on every version you can see the city reflect in the puddles on the road. While the cars you design and race against seem fine, most of the other cars in the game are bland and uninteresting. Probably a conscious choice, as the game runs smoothly at 30fps, but I would have rather seen more than just the occasional White Truck or Blue Pick up. Things smash beautifully when you crash into them (except the cars which seem immune to damage - licensing issues no doubt), water sprays across the windshield, and barrels crumple before they vanish. In short, there are few graphical problems with this game, but it’s mostly spotless.

SOUND

The voice acting is adequate, and the soundtrack rocks. Containing nice mix of rock, rap, and hip-hop, you’ll find yourself setting certain songs to play over and over again. Voice acting is passable, but the main female character (that your not chasing) sounds like she is the same voice that says ‘M-Comm’ in SSX 3… Not totally a bad voice, but it does grate after you’ve heard it thousand times. The X-Box version loses two points in audio for the EA failure to, once again, allow the use of custom soundtracks. I know Madden allows its use, but it’s criminal to not allow an X-box user to make use of its functions.

CONTROLS

Controls are a bit touchy, but not anything you can adapt to with some practice. You’ll find yourself switching to the digital pad during Drag races due to the way the controls are setup, but otherwise, it’s a solid control system for this title.

OVERALL

Though not the most deep racer around, Need For Speed Underground is a solid purchase for any system and a fine addition to any racing library.

Graphics – 9
+ Smooth frame rate, even during intense racing. Everything looks sharp.
- Cars that aren’t racing are dull.

Sound – 8
+ Awesome music tracks. Can customize playlists.
- Songs get repetitive. Can’t add your own.

Controls – 8
+ Well balanced, designed nicely.
- But a little touchy, oversensitive.

Gameplay – 9
+ Lots of stuff to unlock. Good variety.
- No online play for all systems.

Overall – 8
A solid game with lots of options. Check it out.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/16/04, Updated 03/16/04


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