Review by fst249

Reviewed: 06/20/05

A high speed thriller, but fails to deliver top-notch expectations

The first Need for Speed Underground game was indeed a standout, which would mean that expectations for this game would be set quite high. This is a great game, but it does not deliver those key elements that it needed to be a game of the year. Some aspects 9of the game have been updated to make this a top quality game, but other adjustments lower the value of the game. Perhaps the main adjustment to the game, the free-roaming environment, is what prevents this from being a game that you will play for years because of the poor quality. However, it still may be a game for many to enjoy.

Graphics: 10/10
The graphics were the beauty of Need for Speed Underground and are also the beauty of this game. Once again the car models look absolutely gorgeous and are even more mind blowing than in the previous installment. The customizable parts don’t appear to have a polygon out of place. The environment is just beautiful wherever you go. Mountains make for a stunning appearance and the buildings do not look like boxes. The traffic has also taken more shape than last time as well. There truly are few or no complaints about the graphics of NFSU 2.

Gameplay: 8/10
Need for Speed Underground 2 contains all of the major focuses of last year and then some. However, it does not contain enough to make it more than a good game. The most highly anticipated adjustment of a free-roaming environment takes away from the experience somewhat. The reason for this is because there is so far to go between races sometimes and nothing to look at, but advertisements. When you first start the game this will seem quite interesting because of some of the views, but eventually most people will get sick of them. The shortcuts are no better than last year, which does not help matters any. The car list has been extended to SUVs, but still contains mainly imports. The handling physics have made the game more realistic in that aspect and the SUVs handle like bricks, but that is what you get when you ask for realism. The realism does add a difficulty factor to those selecting this as their first racing game because it may take them a little while to get used to the handling. The customizing features have gone way beyond the previous installment, containing spinning rims, neon to place under the hood or in the trunk, scissor doors, and that is to name just a few new options. You must drive from shop to shop to receive new custom upgrades, which can eventually be a hassle to those without a lot of patience. When you sell your car you lose all the upgrades that you bought for it and need to buy them again. The addition of Street Cross, downhill drift, outrun, and Underground Racing League races may be the most exciting addition to the game. Street Cross racing consists of tight corners that require technical skill. Downhill drift is like normal drifting except the car is harder to control and you have to deal with traffic. Outrun racing is where you must get 1000 feet in front of your opponent to win. Underground Racing League races are races by invitation only like tournaments with no traffic on closed circuits. Although the gameplay sounds to be improved to a large extent, what seems to be a minor setback of the free-roam environment turns into a major setback for the game.

Story: 7/10
There is a story behind this game, but most of its content is trash-talking cutscenes. It is basically a sequel to last year’s story, which was also difficult to follow. You start out mowing people down in a ride that you supposedly built, but then it is destroyed and you have to borrow someone else’s car until you can purchase your own. Then it is all try your hardest to get to the top again from there just like the first Underground game.

Sound: 9/10
This soundtrack is quite exciting and contains some popular artists like Snoop Dogg and Xzibit. It contains mostly hip-hop music, but you’ll get a good taste of some rock music as well. The soundtrack does not contain many artists from the first Underground game, but is still a fairly interesting soundtrack.

Replay: 8/10
There isn’t really too much replay in this game. The free-roam environment takes some of the fun out of it, but the pure racing is enjoyable and allows for some replay. You may be popping this game into your PS2 a year from now, but for most people the fun probably won’t last longer than that.

Final Recommendation:
If you can get over the free-roam setback then this will be a great game to buy and add to your collection. If you’re unsure renting for a short period of time will not give you a bad first impression, but if you can rent it for a long period of time such as two weeks to a month then you’ll get the idea of how much the free-roam environment is a setback. If you’re an impatient person and don’t think you can get over the hump then don’t waste your money.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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