Review by in2Nas

Reviewed: 11/30/04

Fasten your seatbelts!

Need for Speed: Underground 2 (PS2)

This past year’s Need for Speed: Underground was a surprise hit. The game modeled the growing culture of night-life street racing and customizing your car to your own likings. It did this with multiple popular cars, a great sense of speed and a killer soundtrack. The game was such a hit, a sequel was inevitable. People wanted more cars, more races, more music, more customization and more freedom to drive your rig around. Now they got it. NFS: U2 has got all these plus more, making it one of the best racing games of all time and possibly giving Gran Turismo 4 a run for its money.

This sequel bumped up the visuals a little bit from the first one. Gone now is that constant irritating “wet” street look in the first one, which makes the game a little easier on the eyes. The cars are near perfect, along with each custom item you can throw on there. The feel for speed has also been juiced. When you hit the nitro, the game’s “blurry” effect kicks in giving you that nice feeling like your pulling mad Gs. Unfortunately, if you’ve already played Burnout 3, you may end up comparing it to Burnout and your experience will be spoiled by the breaking speed in that game. Backgrounds are nice, especially when you look across the bay from end of the stage to the other, but I feel they could’ve detailed the buildings and landscapes a little better.

SOUND: 9/10
Near perfection as far as I’m concerned. Each engine and each car in the game sounds uniquely different. The sound of the turbo fans whistling and hissing of the nitrous purges are music to my ears. Speaking music, this game took a little different approach to the original game’s soundtrack. They took out all of the current popular songs (i.e. “Get Low” by Lil Jon) to make the replay value a little better and so you don’t scream every time you hear the same song. They have a few NFS exclusives including a tight song by Snoop Dogg featuring the Doors and a few cuts by Xzibit.

With the addition of Street X, Downhill Drifts, URLs and Outrun races, there are plenty of races to keep you full. The dynamics of the game have vastly improved. You wipe out a lot less and you hit traffic a lot less making the game more enjoyable and realistic at the same time. The computer AI has also been rectified. Those days of cheap computer cars in the last one where they would always catch up to you even when you had a 5 second lead are over. Of course the draw back now is that you’ll have a tougher time catching up as well, so the computer has 5 second lead on you, it’s over. The mechanics of the game are vastly overlooked. You can really feel the difference between the front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive. You now precision tune your car in every aspect for each race, then throw your car on a Dyno to check its performance ability. This makes the game more realistic, yet fun to play at the same time. The free roaming system kind of got a bad rap in this game. Which I admit, in the beginning it’s frustrating and boring to search for shops and races with your stock car. But after awhile, when you have the city memorized, races and shops are everywhere and car is more pimped out…it becomes more of an aspect in the game and less troublesome.

This game has it all! You can fully customize car beyond your imagination. The game has spinners, colored headlight, more rims, more spoilers, customizable trunks with speaker and amp options, hydraulics, and more carbon fiber body parts to include trunks, roof scoops and rear view mirrors. You now can store more than one car, and then switch out the cars on the fly for different races. When your car is needed to grace to cover of a magazine or DVD cover, you can set your car up (open doors/trunks, do doughnuts) then take the picture you want. You can also rebuild your nitro during races by performing various tactics (ala Burnout 3), which gives some added dimension in the race events.

Overall this is great game. If you liked or enjoyed the first, you’ll love this one. If you’re not really a fan of racing games, this game might scare you away with its long system of unlocking parts and cars to real have a good experience. Online is kind of fun, but it’s tough to find a NFS community. If you do take your skills online, make sure your career car and upgrades are up to speed (no pun intended), because you will get smoked. If you’re still not sure due to the mixed reviews, at least rent it and play through a stage or two to get a good feel for it. But, if you like the first, buy this one.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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