Review by wolverinefan

Reviewed: 01/05/04

It's so shiny...

For the past few years the Need For Speed series has been hit or miss. The last installment, Hot Pursuit 2 was outstanding and now comes along Underground. Frankly, I feel Underground is yet another miss for the series.

You're some hot shot driver who's trying to move his way up in the ranks of the underground racing circuit. That's nice but wasn't that pretty much the plot of the original Midnight Club?

The graphics are so very shiny. It all looks good, it looks flat out amazing when the roads are wet. Everything just looks good, I don't know what else to say about the graphics.

Ah, the sound. This is a very important part of any racing game. First of all the sound effects are great and for some odd reason I love hearing the engine in this game, yes, I am weird. The music on the other hand is pretty nightmarish. You get the wonderful song ''Get Low'' which thankfully plays during the opening movie, title screen and randomly after races and you can even set it so it plays during races! WOW! Of course if you've actually heard this song then you know I'm being sarcastic, it's a stupid song and I have no clue why it's in a racing game. Of course not all bad, you do get some Rob Zombie, Rancid and Story Of The Year (who I like to refer to as a Hoobastank clone).

The control is so simple to get the hang of. All of the cars handle the same which I found to be annoying. It plays like any other racing game but I had trouble remembering that R2 was shift and I would always hit R1 instead which always messed me up on those drag races. It's all very simple and shouldn't take long to figure out.

Of course the biggest problem with the game is the game play. Let's get the customizing out of the way first. Yes, you can customize your car and paint it and put decals and stripes and other crap on it. But first you have to unlock all of this stuff, some of it makes no sense. Why do I need to unlock parts? I feel if I have the money I should be able to buy the stuff but not here, you need to finish specific races to be able to buy new items. Oh and for the record it's not as full of depth as EA makes it out. I found it to be rather lacking except when modeling the outside of the car and honestly, I didn't care. Now onto the modes. The main part of the game is Underground (There's also quick race, split screen and online). In underground you do different types of races, all of which are forced on you. With a total of 111 races it becomes tedious quickly. You have circuit races, drag, drift, and knockout. Circuit races are nice and I enjoyed them, it's like any ole race. Knockout races is basically last place gets removed from the race after each lap until you're the only one left. Drift is basically you sliding around for points. and drag has you drag racing, unrealistically I might add. There is also a sprint which is a mad dash towards the finish. It would have been great if you could choose to advance in one area and do the stuff you like but the game forces it all on you. In the beginning you might start with a circuit, drag and drift race but once you beat those your next choose might just be a drag race. That's very lame! Oh and I found drag racing to be way too hard because you can't make out traffic all that well (yes there is traffic during the drag races) and the shift meter hops around like crazy. Split Screen is good and keeps a steady pace. Online play is so-so. While it keeps a good frame rate, because it's broadband only, the game has a number of people using cheats so it kind of ruins it. One other problem I have with the game is it's tracks, or lack there of. The game has one city and about 8 different circuit tracks, that's it unless you count reverse as a different track... And the worst part is the tracks all borrow areas from each other so it never truly feels like a whole new track.

Replay value is high if you can play online. Nothing is more fun than that but if you don't have broadband then you're stuck playing a really average game by yourself or with a couple of friends. Oh and once you beat Underground you can NOT change your car any so keep that in mind because once you beat Underground you'll have to start over with a new car if you want to customize one.

This is probably the worst Need For Speed game I've play. The graphics are amazing but a racing game is about more than that. If you're a fan of the Fast and the Furious movie than you will probably love this game. Otherwise just rent it and see how it fairs compared to the other racing games in your collection.

Control: 8
Game Play: 4
Graphics: 10
Replay Value: 8
Sound: 5
Story: 1

Final Score: 5

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

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