Review by AJE

"EA Sports Delivers With A Solid Racer"

After taking a few years off from playing any of the NFS games, I decided to check out Need For Speed Underground. The game was getting some solid hype, and I felt that I needed a racing game before Gran Turismo 4. The idea of winning races, upgrading your car, and customizing your engine sounded very impressive. The whole ''underground'' mode made this game sound like an instant winner. While I played this game recklessly for five days, once I was completely done with it, I had a sour taste in my mouth.
Graphics-wise, Need For Speed Underground is wonderful. Each car looks truely identical to it's real counterpart. The streets are beautifully design, and while the whole game takes place at night, the environments are extraordinary. Customizing your car with all the special rims, spoilers, and kits could keep you up for hours. There is a bit of slowdown sometimes through the game, but usually the framerate doesn't falter. In drag mode, it you get the senese of speed when going 200 mph down a crowded road. Visually, this is the best racing game out on the market.
Graphics: 10/10
Though graphics are important in a game, nothing is more important then the gameplay. The Underground mode of this game pits you up against 112 races. Each race will unlock a special feature or give you a considerable amount of cash to fix up your car. There are four different types of races that you will experience: drag, sprint, circuit, and drift. Drag mode reminds me back when I use to race my car at night. Instead of a quarter mile, you race with three other cars down a mile stretch. Shifting is key in this mode, because it is ultimately the key to winning. Sprints are one lap races while circuits can range anywhere from 3-8 laps. Drift mode is drifting at it's finest. Ever had the urge to pull up your E-brake going 60 mph? In drag mode, you must, to be the best. While these four different modes of play are great for underground, they do get a bit tedious after a while. You can race with 2 players head to head, but I was a bit disappointed with the split screen racing. The game doesn't run as smooth in 2 player mode, and the shift meter is designed very poorly. Want to race online? Well, EA Sports made it possible for allowing you to race against anywhere in the world. With magazine covers to unlock by winning online, you will find yourself racing all night long to be the best.
Gameplay: 9/10
The soundtrack is awesome in this game. If you enjoy rap, you'll have a blast listening to some great rap songs. If you enjoy rock, you'll get a few songs from that genre too. No matter what music you like, you'll be pumped up by playing this game with the ultimate soundtrack. Don't worry about turning your stereo on, you'll enjoy the racing experience with your television sound on.
Sound: 9/10
Don't expect a Gran Turismo when you buy this game though. I unlocked everything in this game in 5 days which shows that this game ends a bit fast. The Underground mode is a bit challenging, but most racing fans won't have a problem beating every mission on hard. Unlocking new accessories for your car is fun, but the idea of having only one car at one time is a bit lame. The option of not being able to replay certain levels in Underground mode is a bit lame too. To replay missions, you need to start up a whole new account which can be a bit tedious. With a weak two player mode, one will find this game on their shelf in about a week especially if they don't have access to the internet.
Replay Value: 7/10
Overall, I really enjoyed playing this game. Though it was a bit short of an experience, I'm glad that I laid down the $50.00 to buy this game. If you are a racing fan, you should buy this game for sure. If you are a casual fan of this genre, give this game a rent. Though Need For Speed Underground does have it's problems, this game still shines at times, making it a worthwhile experience.
Overall: 9/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 12/09/03

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