Review by DK Reborn

"Somebody call my momma!"

Need For Speed Underground. If you've seen The Fast and the Furious, or 2 Fast 2 Furious, and enjoyed them, you'll fall in love with this game. Before I really get started, however, there's a couple things that should be said - I have never come across a racing game before that I didn't hate. Note: I am using the word hate here, about racing games. Every single racing game I have played I have not had the stomach to keep at, for the constant supply of boredom it slammed me with. I'm just not a fan of the genre. Yet - NFS: Underground has set a new record for me... the very first racing game to dominate the majority of my waking time, and I am loving it.

So, with the knowledge that I am immovably biased against racing games in general, let's move on to the technical review.

Graphics: 9.7/10

This really sat me back in my chair. From the very moment that I turned the game on to the 400th time I turned it off, the graphics never ceased to amaze. The neon lights on the streetside shops, the traffic lights hanging above intersections, the slick rainwater on the road and the puddles your vehicle screams through - the environmental graphics are stunning. Not for one second did the thought enter my mind - ''That looks tacky,'' or, ''That shouldn't be there.'' It immersed me in the streets of the big cities, and didn't let go.

The cars themselves. Wow. Times ten. Squared. I've never seen cars look so good. Even from the very beginning of the game, where all you get is stock cars and plain versions, the cars are all amazingly rendered and are detailed to unbelievable standards. I especially loved the way the cars reflect lights upon their shiny chassis', when you drive past street lights and neon signs. But of course... everything changes for the better (times ten, squared) when you begin modding your car. Or, as the game puts it, ''Customizing your ride.'' I wouldn't dare try to detail what you can do... that is a discovery best left to you, when you go through and check it all out. Or check pics on the internet. Whatever.

The FMV's are also brilliant... always short in length, but always of awesome quality. Not much can be said... the people look like real people, the voice acting is casual and believable, and it was all done like it should have been.

The only reason the graphics didn't get a perfect 10 is because of the way the other cars on the roads are kind of bland... but who watches other cars? It didn't really matter to me.

Sound: 10/10

The music is awesome. Alot of famous bands/singers in the background, like Rob Zombie and Nate Dogg. It's all awesome race music... alot of rock, metal, and punk, and always gets my head nodding with the beat.

The sound effects defy real discription. They're there... almost as if they've been ripped from a real road race and inserted into your head. Everything from the squeal of burning tires to the solid thud as you come down from a jump, it all sounds 100% authentic and never leaves any resentment. Some of the crashes sound a bit harsh, though - but I assume real crashes do, as well.

Gameplay: 10/10

I just could barely stand having such addictiveness in a racing game. Usually, a racing game consists of 'accelerate, turn the corner. Accelerate, turn the corner. Cross the finish line. Game over! Start again?'

But Underground is so much more.

Accelerate, dodge the traffic and dart into the shortcut. Take the jump, shoot out back onto the road just in front of your opponent. Hit the nitro to get out and ahead of the guy who's going neck-and-neck with you. Oh, no! You hit oncoming traffic and had a HUGE wreck! You cross the finish line last, but do it with dignity in a big powerslide with your neons shining bright and your shiny car's vinyls showing proudly. And you go right back to do the race again - because you're having such a damn good time losing.

Of course, that's just the Sprint mode I was describing. Sprint mode is just end-to-end... and that mode in itself is alot of fun. Underground also includes Circuit mode, which is laps; Drag, which is a quarter mile (I assume, though it is probably longer) of accelerating as fast as you can while manually shifting gears at the right time and avoiding traffic if you can; and Drift mode, which is all about going around corners as sideways as you can and ''drifting'' to gain huge points.

Every single mode is an unbelievable amount of fun... all of their tracks were designed perfectly and uniquely, and they all look different. Even the drag courses, which are just a straight line of four lanes you compete in.

This game also has online play, but unfortunately, I do not have a broadband account so I have yet to experience it.

Story: 10/10

First realistic racing game to have a story - yay! You're a newbie at underground illegal racing, and you're befriended by a young ''lady'' at one of the races. Lo and behold, it's your new objective in life to become the biggest and best racer in all 4 modes on the streets - and you have ALOT of work to do before you even begin to climb the ranks. You get rankings, you get on the covers of magazines, you get spoken to and talked down to by other racers, and you get ''suggestive'' conversations from that delightful little female companion of yours. Major story advances usually take the form of you winning a big race, and then getting spoken to by that charming vixen, and then getting some big super-cool prize for your car, like an engine upgrade or unlockable parts. And so it begins!

The Bottom Line: 9

It's fun. It's deep. It has alot to do. It's simple. It's the whole freakin' package. Rent or buy? Buy. I hated racing games... but this changed me. And I bought it before playing it, as well - and I haven't regretted it for a second.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/29/03

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