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Need for Speed Underground 2 (Windows)

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Written by  :  Chris Martin (1098)
Written on  :  Apr 25, 2005
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars

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Summary

A great racing game - infinitely customizable...

The Good

Need for Speed Underground 2 (NFSU2) is another trip into the world of underground illegal street racing. It's about speed, handling, and the best equipment. But all of that is overshadowed by how your tricked out ride looks.

NFS2U is a great racing game. Not as sophisticated as the Grand Turismo Series, and not as dumbed down and other racing games on the market.

The Gameplay is basically split into 2 parts, Quick Racing, and the Career Mode. This review is about the Career Mode (where winning races unlocks stuff to race in the Quick Race Mode). The Career Mode is basically starting from nothing and one car - I used a Honda Civic - and working you way up to being "The best street racer in town". Career Mode has 7 types of races - Circuit, Drag, Street X, Drift, Sprint, URL, and Outrun. As you win various races, you bankroll increases, and you can buy new parts for your car. I found that each of the races has a different feel and way of winning. My Favorites are Circuit, Drag, Sprint and Street X. Drift is very difficult, until you learn how to get the bonus multipliers and get insane points while drifting. And Drag was confusing at first - you don't steer like in all the other race types, you control the car like it was on a slot car racing track, switching lanes - not steering. And learning when to shift gives you a tremendous advantage in the race.

The game gives you a excellent sense of speed, although the lack of damage modeling (see below) takes away from the experience. And once you get NO2 installed, the motion blur is a fantastic effect.

Graphically, the game is stunning. Although it is a system hog on the higher settings, the graphics look amazing, and the options are unlimited. Paint jobs, Engine types, decals, Vinyl applications, spoilers, spinners, rims, Audio setups - It's a huge list of parts that can be purchased and personalized. NFSU2 really allows you to create a car that is completely unique, and the outcome is fantastic. And on the higher

Sounds are amazing. Revving of the engines are different for each car, depending on what you have installed in the car. The sound of overpasses (when you drive under them at 100+mps) is cool as well. And the mix of music is decent, but I ended up turning off all the music while I was racing - it's a lot easier to concentrate when you don't have Snoop Dogg rapping in you ears.

Controlling the game is best done with a gamepad. I use a Saitek P2500 rumble pad with dual analog sticks. The gamepad gives you a lot of minute controls - much easier than using a keyboard. And being able to customize the gamepad to your needs is a huge plus.

AI in the game can be adjusted between races. Easy, normal and hard modes are the only choices. Easy is just that extremely easy. Racing on that level, I've had leads of up to 20 to 25 seconds at the end of a race. Normal is what I normally raced on. 95% of the time I would win with a 2-5 second lead, but sometimes you'd lose. Hard is very hard. AI is aggressive, and winning takes knowing the shortcuts, and knowing how your car handles.

The Bad

The only technical side I didn't like was the system requirements. Playing with all the graphic options on looks fantastic, but makes racing very difficult with low framerates. Your best bet is to race with minimal graphics (although even with minimal graphics, the game looks great), and when you're driving around town, use a high setting.

The Acting was non-existent. The game's cutscenes are basically done line a graphic novel. In an underground racing game? C'mon EA - If your demographics for this game are 21-35 year old men, why put out a game that looks like kids should be reading it. And although Brooke Burke is a great looking woman, how hard would it have been to have actual PHOTOS of her instead of an artist's rendition?

The Story is pretty lame once you get into the 3rd through 5th stages of the game. You basically start the game out racing, and having fun, but then this "rival gang" wants to take control of Bayview. You end up racing the bad guy in the final race, but I felt real stupid. Once I started to see where the cutscenes were going, I just skipped over them.

And I'm really disappointed that with the quality of the graphics, that there is not damage modeling in the game. I've been in some spectacular crashes (literally flipping my car 10-15 times), only to come out of it either on my wheels (not showing a single scratch on the car), or on my roof (again showing no damage). If the game's graphics are set high enough, you get some very nice looking sparks when hitting walls or other cars, but that's it. Heck, Colin McRae Rally 2 (which is 5 years old) has convincing damage modeling.

And I have to mention the very lame ending. It ties into the whole "graphic novel" concept, 2 girls saying "Yay! You're the best", etc. and then a quick 2 minute video of the ending and the NSFU2 Logo. And that's it. No scrolling credits (which is pretty much the norm in any console port), no unlocking codes (like new cars, parts or tracks), no nothing. Just an in-game e-mail stating that you completed the game. I found it a little anti-climatic.

The Bottom Line

NSFU2 is a great racing game with a few flaws. The lack of damage modeling is inexcusable in my opinion, and I feel that it suffers from console-itis. But the Pro's outweigh the Con's in this game's case. Worth the money - pick this one up.