Review by DaveSev

"An incredibly fun game, especially for those who like to "trick out" their "mad tyte whip." y0.""

I admit, at first I dismissed this game to be a stupid game that's sole purpose was to create some barbaric, gaudy Civic with 2' spoilers and neons. So did many other people. But I was wrong. This game is extremely fun- possibly one of the most exciting racing games I've ever played, next to Tokyo Xtreme Racer Zero.

NFS:U is all about the ''underground'' racing scene. Everyone knows of the movie The Fast and the Furious; annoyingly brightly painted cars with attention-grabbing vinyls and huge towel racks on the rear end. Well take that movie, add in some engine and suspension upgrades, take out the cops, and you've got this game. Now on to the review.

Stunning. This is some of the best gameplay I've ever experienced in this game. You'll never, ever be bored while playing it. I guarantee it. You may be pissed off, but not bored.

The main hulk of this game is the ''Underground'' mode. After completing an ''acceptance'' race, you'll be given a choice of some slow cars to begin your quest. You'll race in the same city the whole game, but it never gets old because of the variety of areas. By the end of this game, you'll be all too familiar with the airport construction zone, the bridge, Chinatown, that other construction zone, and that damned forest. There are 111 races in all (there may be more...but no spoilers here!), a lot of them being tournaments which consist of 3 or 4 races each. Each type of race has unique physics to heighten your experience.

Circuit: Race on a closed circuit made up of city streets, sewers, and dirt alleyways. Races last anywhere from 2-7 laps, with the bulk of them being 3-4. Normal racing physics. Risky shortcuts.

Sprint: Point-to-point racing through the city streets. Races last from approximately 1:20-2:00. Same physics as circuit. Even more risky shortcuts.

Drag: Point-to-point racing along a straightish line, usually a mile in length. Takes 20-35 seconds, depending on how much your car is upgraded. Intense screenshaking and wind noises complement intense speeds. You don't really ''turn'', but switch lanes with the directional buttons. It's not a simple switch, mind you; more pressure still equals a harder (and wider) turn. This type of racing features the closest, most exciting finishes you'll see in any racing game. Jump over trains, swerve around wrecked traffic, draft off other cars. You might just break a sweat. The sense of speed in this mode is simply AMAZING. Seriously, words can't describe it. Just watching a drag race gets your heart pumping.

Drift: A totally unique mode that isn't incorporated into many games at all. You don't race for time; instead, you are supposed to ''drift'' through corners (drifting is controlled oversteer, for those of you who don't know). Tracks are tiny and twisty. You are awarded points for each drift you perform, based on how sideways you are and how fast you're going.

Now, the AI in this game...the AI is actually pretty good, but it's also pretty (extremely) cheap. There is such an obvious rubberband effect that it's sickening. If you are ahead 8 seconds and tap a wall, suddenly the cars are on your rear as if you just dropped the soap. If you are behind 8 seconds, then the other cars go at about 70% of their normal speed. In fact, if you purposely get lapped, you'll find them to be going around 80 mph on the straights. So why didn't I let this drag the score down? Well, it promotes some real exciting races.

And how could I not mention the crashing in this game. I'll admit it, I HATE the crash physics. A simple bump will send you in a barrel roll. And it seems as if the game is actually out to get you; maybe it's just my imagination, but it certainly seems as if the better you are doing, the more cars will appear right in front of you on that blind turn. Coupled with the rubberband AI, this will piss you off. But all in all, it makes the game last longer, and more fun.

Normally I would put this section in with Car Selection, but the scores varied so much I decided to leave them separate.

Another sweet aspect of this game is the customization of your cars. You can select from a massive array of bumpers, skirts, spoilers, hoods, roof scoops, and rims. You can paint your car 121 different ways, with gloss, metallic, and pearlescent paints. There are probably 200 different vinyls to choose from, and 4 layers of vinyls available. And there's even 50+ decals that can show off what's under the hood (or what you wish was under it). You can put underbody neons on your car, and change the headlights, taillights, muffler tip, and window tint. I'm sure there are billions of combinations for modifications to your car, if not trillions. Literally. But even better is the fact that to beat this game, you don't HAVE to mod your car's exterior. That's what a lot of people don't realize, and it turns away a lot of people from this game. The only thing that exterior parts do is increase your reputation meter, which multiplies your style points, which unlock vinyls.

Now, style points. In every race you do, you are awarded style points for little ''tricks'' you do; powerslides, drafting, using shortcuts, having the lead for a lap, getting through a section cleanly, etc. These points all add up to give you vinyls, decals, and some unique cars to choose from. They are a great way to add personalization to your car, but again, you don't have to if you don't want to.

Complaints...where's the mirror modification? Customizable colors (on R-G-B sliders) would be nice. And an option to place decals wherever you want would be great, although the available places are good. Where are the powder-coated rims? It's impossible to get white rims in this game, and they are very popular in real life. Oh, but don't worry, you can get puke green ones. These are all rather minor things, however.

Performance upgrades are pretty standard for a NFS game. You can upgrade your engine/exhaust, suspension, drivetrain, tires, ECU/fuel system, turbo, brakes, weight reduction, and nitrous, with three upgrades each. You can even choose what brand of parts you use, although it has no affect on your performance. No real complaints in the performance category, although simple settings like gear ratios and ride height would be welcomed.

There's around 20 cars to choose from. Not much compared to GT3's 180 or TXR3's 70, and especially GT2's 600. Weak cars such as a standard Lancer and Impreza 2.5 are put in place of the Lancer Evo and Impreza WRX STi. The damned Miata is the best car in the game until you are 90% done. The European cars- Peugeot 206 and VW Golf- don't exactly represent Europe very well, either. And the Neon isn't an SRT-4.

But, there is still a lot of favorites. I'll just list them instead of trying to throw in some fancy words...Skyline, Supra, RX-7, 350Z, S2000, Eclipse GSX, RSX, Integra. All the other cars are either terrible (mentioned above), or are mediocre (240SX, Tiburon).

I'd say if you change the Impreza, Lancer, and Neon up to their higher models, throw in some good domestic muscle with a Camaro and a Mustang (a muscle car or two would be nice), and some better European cars like the turbo'ed Jetta and low-end BMWs.

CONTROLS - 9.6 (Dualshock2 Controller- 9.2, Logitech Driving Force- 9.9)
I’ll admit I haven’t played enough of this game with the controller to accurately rate the controls, but I’ll try. They’re very crisp. When you push a button, the car responds. In fact, they may be a little too crisp; you’d best get good with the analog stick or the pressure-sensitive d-pad if you want to drive well. But the buttons all seem to be in convenient locations. Navigating the menus couldn’t be easier.

Now the Logitech Driving Force (the most popular wheel available, arguably) simply makes this game feel amazing. You can drive so smoothly and manipulate the gas so perfectly that you’ll think you’re driving a real car. It performs that well. My only complaint (which cost it the .1) was the lack of Force Feedback (if you could even call it that; it’s more random jerking). Overall, very nice control in this game.

The graphics in this game are good. The cars and their modifications look great- probably as good as GT3's cars. The city streets are surrounded with buildings and such that actually make it look like a city. The dirt and water effects are good (and annoying), even though you don't get water splashed on your screen like in TXR3. Except why does every single road look so shiny? It's like it just rained every time you go out to race. Sure it looks pretty and adds to the amazing sense of speed (BTW, if I haven't said it enough, the sense of speed is AMAZING in this game), but it really shouldn't be there. The motion blur when you hit nitrous can be annoying, but I suppose it's ok. Those're the only real complaints in the graphics; everything else is just ''good''.

SOUND - 9.3
Engines roar, tires squeal, cars crash; it’s everything you could expect in a racing game. Most of the cars sound different from each other, but you can especially tell in the garage that some were repeated identically. Shifting sounds realistic; it’s not as glassy smooth as in some other racing games (GT3), instead there is a little “jerk” in the revs every time you shift. Your tires chirp sweetly off the line, although not in any other gears that I’ve heard, which is a disappointment. Squealing around corners actually varies depending on how hard you turn, unlike GT3. And the menu sounds won’t get on your nerves and aren’t overly loud. Just like the graphics, no real complaints in the sound department.

MUSIC: 8.7
You either like it or you hate it. The music was geared at what is apparently the “new generation” of teenagers. You’ll hear rappers rapping about putting 24”s on a Civic and tappin’ hoes. If you like that kind of rap, then you’ll like the music. During the races, the mood changes from rap to rock/nu-metal, which better suits racing. Artists such as Rancid, Rob Zombie, and Static-X get your blood flowing good enough. And if you don’t like some of the songs, you can turn them off on the main menu. Or you can turn the music off completely and play the radio.

You’ll have to play this game through a few times if you want all the parts, because you sometimes are forced to select unique parts, and the ones you don’t select are gone for good. And at the end of the game, you also have to make a hard decision between two nice bodykits. You can spend hours customizing a single car to make it look perfect, and with the hundreds of vinyls, you'll always be wanting to make a new car.

Gameplay: 9.9
Car Customization: 9.6
Car Selection: 7.9
Controls: 9.6
Graphics: 8.9
Sound: 9.3
Music: 8.7
Replay Value: 9.6

Rent/Buy/Pass - BUY
If you like racing games, you’ll like this game for the intense gameplay. If you like customizing cars, you’ll like it for the endless possibilities of paints, vinyls, rims, and accessories. If you like cars in general, you’ll like this game.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/01/04

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