Review by DarthHomer

"Welcome back to the Underground, hope that your Need For Speed is back with you..."

One of the first racing games I ever played was EAs Need For Speed, and to this day, I consider it to be one of the best racing games ever. Sequels followed, and I played them out, and I loved all of them, until EA decided to reinvent the series by releasing Need For Speed Underground. For some reason, I just couldn't connect with this game like I did with the other games in the series, it wasn't because of the subject matter (Illegal Street Racing), it wasn't the lack of exotic cars (the game contained a lot of Japanese cars though), it was just something about the game that made the game lacking for me, but made everyone else delight. Now, with the inevitable release of this game, does it bring me back to my love of NFS? Or does it make the series even more unplayable? Read on to find out....

GAMEPLAY: The key selling point of any game, and NFS has some killer gameplay. The game features a variety of ways to race, including Circuit (normal races, 3 laps), Sprint (a race from point A to point B), Drift (where you sharply turn around corners, scoring points), Drag (where you shift gears perfectly, and move only straight) and the new Racer X (like a circuit race, except on Drift-like tracks) and Outrun (more on this later). All of these modes can be raced against a friend or online.

The game also features a new career mode, where it is much more interactive, how did EA do this? By making it so that you drive around the city, challenging other racers and customising your car. It's a good addition to the game, and gives some life into the game. This is also where you can race in Outrun races. What you do is you need to take the lead from another racer, and get a 1000ft distance away from them, if the opposite happens to you, you lose!

Theres also some new customisation features, including the option to put Hydraulics on your car (nice touch). The NOS system (or boosting) has been changed so that when you avoid crashes, perform powerslides etc. the NOS gauge increases (i.e like the system in the Burnout games)

The game also has some faults, including the fact that at times, the game can be a real toughie at times, and making even one crash can cost you the whole race, so some degree of skill is required. Also, losing a Outrun race can cost you 100 game dollars, so don't expect making your car a absolute beast soon.

GRAPHICS: Nice, the new city environment looks very detailed, which is one of EAs talents. The cars themselves look great, and are perfect visual replications of their real life counterparts. Sadly, the games supposedly new city looks almost the same as the city in the previous game, so don't expect any new changes.

SOUND: Another one of EAs talents. While the first NFSU contained few known bands, this game contains some more recognisable talent, including Snoop Dogg, Paul Van Dyke and Spiderbait (well, the latter is more known to Australian gamers). The soundtrack is ok, while it's mostly techno songs, it features the odd occasional song you'll love (two that I love are Snoop Doggs remake of the Doors classic Riders of the Storm, and Spiderbaits remake of Black Betty). The cars sound real, which adds to the experience. Also, the game is remastered in THX, making this a great sounding project.

FINAL COMMENTS: Well, EA have done a good job with the game, and the new options and modes will make fans of the previous game salivate in delight. But did it bring me back to my love of NFS? Well, it did and it didn't. It did in the way that it allows you to have more control over the looks of the car, and the ability to drive around the city is good, but the bad thing about it is the degree of skill that you need to play the game. This isn't a game that you pick up and start playing. But it's still a great game, and one of the better games of the year...A MUST SEE!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 11/23/04

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