Need For Speed Underground 2
Published by: EA Games
Developed by: EA Games
ESRB Rating: E for Mild Lyrics
For: PS2, XBX, GC, GBA, DS, PC
Version Reviewed: GC
Need For Speed Underground was mildly addictive, a game that is best described as Hot Pursuit 2 in a import tuner. But Underground 2 takes the series in an entirely new direction. While maintaining the whole idea of customizing cars, it allows for a massive open-ended world, with around 125 sq. miles of game area. And despite the land size of the game, it?s big in hours too. Opening the fourth and final area in the game gives the player just around 25% completion. It takes over 7 hours just to unlock the fourth area. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time would?ve been done by then. So would many other games. So when I say this game is big, I mean big.
One of the few things that the original game innovated in, the graphics of NFSU2 are, simply put, unbelievable. I had the chance to play the Xbox version at a friend?s house, and it was much better looking, but that?s not saying the Gamecube version is a slouch. All versions are amazingly detailed, with effects that cannot be stopped. The Gamecube version didn?t have a water effect that streaked the camera, as the Xbox version did. Not a major gripe, and certainly not a game killer. In the same way, the Gamecube version had some minor frame rate problems, so the game stuttered at times, which is, to be sure, an inconvenience. Given the sheer scope of the area, the graphics that beautifully illustrate the cars, and the amazing sense of style that comes packaged with this game, they problems are minor irritations. The story is presented in a comic book style, so everything in the story cut scenes has a hand drawn look to it, as if it came out of a comic book. If not a bit gimmicky, it?s pretty cool looking just the same.
This game is huge, as I said above. So you can choose to just drive around, challenging other tuners to races so that you can get some unique parts, or you can choose to progress with the story, or you can just enter a race. All of these choices are great, especially because they all come with ample rewards, ranging from new parts, to money, to photo shoots for magazines or DVD covers, to new areas of the city being opened up, or even to opening new cars on the showroom floor, ranging from the H2 to a 2005 Mustang GT. It?s all well paced and well-done, giving the illusion of a real breathing city, and a real underground racing circuit. Races include Drag, Street X, URL, Drift, Circuit, and Sprint (also called point-to-point). Drag races are initially very simple, mostly because you can only switch lanes, not really steer. That?s okay, because the steering could get in the way of paying attention to the shifter, so it?s a welcome relief. Soon, however, they become incredibly challenging, requiring you to focus on your speed, your RPMs (so you don?t blow your engine out), your position, and hazards in the road. Pretty soon, it becomes overwhelming, but that never detracts from the fun of the game.
Street X is a highly technical form of the circuit race, requiring mastery of the powerslide technique and the drafting technique; in other words, it's difficult if you can't grasp it. Still, it's pretty awesome seeing your car grip around 90 degree turns perfectly, or cutting a rival off. URL, or Underground Racing League, is also very technical. It's only unlocked after you receive an invite, which comes from one of several sponsors. Often taking place in a series of races, URL races contain 6 competitiors, and often over four laps, so anyone who races in this has to be on the top of their game. It can often get quite difficult, but in the end it?s very rewarding, especially after spending a lot of time souping the car up. Drift races essentially require you to link multiple powerslides together to rack up combos and points. The racer doesn?t need to be ahead of the pack to win?all you need to do is beat the top competitor. Circuit races are standard video game races, so nothing needs to be explained here. Often, circuit races are really simple, and can be won quite quickly. Sprint races are some of the harder races in the game. Taking place on the most curvy road in the entire game, sprints require you to get from point A to point B the quickest. This is usually very challenging because there is traffic here, unlike most of the other races. One of the coolest parts of this game is the ability to customize virtually everything about your car when you unlock it, ranging from decals to spinners to scoop hoods to carbon side mirrors; almost everything you see on your car can be completely altered. And that is the most compelling feature of the game. Not the races? No, those are just a plus.
The ability to personalize everything about your ride is what keeps the races coming, is what keeps the game playing. I cannot possibly cover everything about this game in one review. It?s too big. Just know that I loved this game more than I loved Halo 2, and that I would, quite honestly, recommend this game over that one any day. Even though Halo 2 is great.
Pretty good sound, though the soundtrack gets repetitive. Brooke Burke, former host of Wild On!, which was on E!, plays Rachel, who is your sponsor for the game, and her voice acting is quite well done. Other than the hum of car engines, the squeal of tires, the boom of thunder or the patter of rain, the game?s sound is quite sparse, but what is there is memorable, and well done.
Nothing feels odd about the controls, so nothing needs to be spoken of. They?re pretty good, like most EA games.
This is a game about illegal street racing, despite the lack of police presence in the game. Anyone that is against racing on the streets should let their children know that it?s not okay to do that, but the content is not bad enough to warrant keeping the game away from kids. It?s a fun game, and could serve teaching the kids about driving and the various parts of a car. Brooke Burke, whose likeness is in the game, is scantily clad several times, as are some models that are on the DVD covers that your car makes. This content was not necessary, and I hope that EA chooses not to do this next time. I could not find any offensive lyrics, but if any reader finds any, feel free to post them below. Overall, this is a game that is to be enjoyed by any player, car enthusiast, or racing aficionado. Because of the general lack of clothing on the women in the game, I would not recommend this to anyone who hasn?t let their child see basic cable. However, it is an amazingly fun, addictive, challenging experience that is likely to keep anyone entertained, something that cannot be passed up on today?s market.