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23 Nov, 2008

Need For Speed: Undercover Review

PS3 Review | Busted.
The Need for Speed series has always been a huge franchise for EA, but it was only really when Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 was released that the series started to become both critically and commercially well received. Since Hot Pursuit 2 EA Black Box has released the excellent Need for Speed Most Wanted, the conversative Need for Speed Carbon and the disappointing Need for Speed ProStreet. Well, here we are another year later and with plenty of competition EA Black Box has a lot to live up to. So does Need for Speed Undercover deliver or has it been pipped at the finish line?

Need for Speed Undercover scraps everything that EA Black Box did last year with Need for Speed ProStreet and returns to the Need for Speed Most Wanted days. Speedbreakers are back and most importantly for Need for Speed fans, the cops are back as well. The 'hook' for Need for Speed Undercover is the fully fledged story mode. This 'interactive experience' simply consists of a few corny B grade cut scenes, mixed in with the usual formula where you need to win races to progress up in ranks and earn new cars. This story mode unfortunately under delivers and the single player experience winds up feeling rather similiar to Most Wanted's..

It all looks nice and pretty but this might as well be a video of the game.

It all looks nice and pretty but this might as well be a video of the game.
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The entire game is set in the fictitious city of the Tri-City Bay area. You'll start off with an average car, but as you win races you'll earn pink slips, as well as the ability to customise your car. The autosculpt feature from previous Need for Speed games is back, but customising your ride doesn't make too much of a difference this time. As with every Need for Speed game there is a large variety of cars to unlock from manufacturers such as Nissan, Dodge, Cadillac, Lamborghini, BMW, Aston Martin, Mitsubishi, Ford and Porsche.

The strength of the story mode is the large variety of challenges. As you drive around the Tri-City Bay area you'll come across new challenges, some of them are basic, like races or dashes from the cops, but other challenges such as one where you need to cause as much damage to the city as you can, are enjoyable and a little bit unique. Those who enjoyed the drag races from Need for Speed Underground will be disappointed to know that they aren't in Need for Speed Underground at all.

There are some sweet rides which will keep motorheads happy.

There are some sweet rides which will keep motorheads happy.
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The game also includes online support and the highlight of the online package is the cops and robbers mode, where a player assumes the role of a robber and the other player tries to hunt down the robber. It's a lot of fun and Undercover should have a great lifespan when it comes to online play.

On paper Undercover sounds like a faithful and enjoyable addition to the Need for Speed series, but this unfortunately couldn't be further from the truth. It is the frame rate which really becomes a huge problem on the PlayStation 3. At times the game can slow down for five to seven seconds at a time, which can automatically throw you off the race and can cause some big accidents. It's absolutely unforgivable and very surprising, considering Need for Speed Carbon had no such slowdowns on the PlayStation 3 and Carbon City is about the size of the Tri-City Bay area. The frame rate is detrimental enough to the game that it takes away any enjoyment that Undercover provides. The graphics aren't anything special either and the entire city looks like it has been coated with a blue tint, ala Burnout Paradise. While the frame rate on the Xbox 360 version is better, anyone who enjoys becoming involved in lengthy cops and robber chases and taking down the pursuit vehicles will unfortunately have to experience some slowdown.

The difficulty level for the game has also been toned down. Within 2 hours of playing the game we had won every race that we participated in (by a very long margin) and completed nearly 25% of the story mode. While we understand that Need for Speed is a franchise that appeals to a casual market, we don't understand why the difficulty level has been toned down just so much. Evading the cops seems so much easier than in previous Need for Speed games and it takes quite a while for the game to actually become challenging. Anyone who has completed or played through a decent amount of the previous Need for Speed games will have no issues at all in completing this game.

Drift, a staple of the Need for Speed series.

Drift, a staple of the Need for Speed series.
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Overall it is hard not to be left feeling disappointed by Need for Speed Undercover. The cheesy story is just boring and while the career mode is adequete the game barely presents any challenge at all and the frame rate issues are quite simply unforgivable. The game is very similar to Most Wanted, but with some severe issues, anyone who has even a passing interest in the game should simply return to Need for Speed Most Wanted.

The success of the Need for Speed series dictates that we will probably see a new title in the franchise every year. Last year EA Black Box learnt from their mistakes and we can simply hope that this year they do the same, but as it stands, Need for Speed Undercover isn't pipped at the line by the dozens of other arcade racers out there, it simply cannot even compete.
The Score
Need for Speed Undercover is just a disappointing game on the PlayStation 3. Without all the technical flaws the game could have been enjoyable but at times it feels like you're in the photo mode, while you're supposed to be racing. 5
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Need For Speed: Undercover Content

Need for Speed ProStreet Review
16 Dec, 2007 Something feels different.
Need for Speed: Carbon Review
26 Nov, 2006 Do you feel the need?
18 Comments
5 years ago
thanks to all the bad reviews that this game is getting, this is sure to hit the bargain bins by February -
That is when I might pick this up ...
5 years ago
PALGN wrote
Those who enjoyed the drag races from Need for Speed Underground will be disappointed to know that they aren't in Need for Speed Underground at all.
Err... I assume the second is supposed to be Undercover.
As for me, i'll stick with Most Wanted. Fantastic game.
And i'll get Burnout Paradise when it comes on PC too.
5 years ago
I'll definitely be avoiding this game by the looks of it. I didn't exactly have high hopes for the game but a 5 or lower from Palgn instantly puts a game on my "to be avoided" list.
5 years ago
bugger....
5 years ago
NFS has been downhill since Most Wanted... is anyone really suprised?
5 years ago
I thought Carbon was pretty good, too.

djrussell wrote
is anyone really suprised?
As a fan of the series, yes D: I assumed that after the excuse of a NFS game that was ProStreet that they would've picked their game up a bit.

But like shiraj, I may pick it up when shops try to clear it out xD.
5 years ago
Thankfully Midnight Club:LA is awesome, though hard at times, so for those who enjoy street racers that seems to be the better option.
PALGN wrote
on the PlayStation 3. At times the game can slow down for five to seven seconds at a time
... whooaa EA is still having problems with the PS3 versions icon_naughty.gif
5 years ago
Hopefully it comes out at Pizza Hut like the others have, I got both NFS:U2 and NFS:Most Wanted at Pizza Hut, they were delicious icon_biggrin.gif
5 years ago
Skiller wrote
Hopefully it comes out at Pizza Hut like the others have, I got both NFS:U2 and NFS:Most Wanted at Pizza Hut, they were delicious
WTF??

Nothing will ever top Most Wanted in the NFS series unfortunately... well I've got hopes, but I also harbour doubts...
5 years ago
wow, didnt expect it to be that bad! thought maybe a 7 or 6.5 at the worst.

might leave this one till a mate buys it.
5 years ago
RooRage wrote
Skiller wrote
Hopefully it comes out at Pizza Hut like the others have, I got both NFS:U2 and NFS:Most Wanted at Pizza Hut, they were delicious
WTF??

Nothing will ever top Most Wanted in the NFS series unfortunately... well I've got hopes, but I also harbour doubts...
Pizza Hut have in the past done pizza + game deals. Buy some pizza pack and receive a free game. Im pretty sure they're just EA titles, ones i remember from them are past NFS, Sims and a couple of others. Who knows, they may end up putting this on the next one of the those deals, but its probably not gunna be for a while
5 years ago
O well this is sad, i've kinda gone off these games for years. My favorite was always Hot Pursuit 3. I really dont care for street racing and 'suping' things up.
5 years ago
The review is quite accurate about Undercover, I can't believe how laggy the game can get. It's just a shame EA have done this to the NFS franchise.
5 years ago
To be honest, I feel EA are getting fairly wreckless with their recent titles... perhaps the pressure of Activision and others is mounting up on them.

Thank God they havn't distroyed the Fifa franchise... will be a sad day if us Fifa lovers are forced to play PES!
5 years ago
In mother Russia, the FIFA franchise is superior!
5 years ago
I'm sure EA paid more money to Maggie Q and David Rees Snell plus the other actors from the crappy storyline then they actually did on developing the game.
5 years ago
TheAnswer wrote
The review is quite accurate about Undercover, I can't believe how laggy the game can get. It's just a shame EA have done this to the NFS franchise.
the only aspect of Need for Speed that doesn't lag is the release dates.

they should put the series on hold for a year or two, and (and i can't believe i'm about to say this) produce some DLC for the already available games before trying to trump their previous installments.

i really think that's why the formula is looking old, because it is. other street racing games have comparitively large production times, and it shows.

personally, i haven't liked an NFS since the original Underground.

get back to supercars imo. leave Ricer Racing to the plethora of titles that do it better. (ok, overstating the genre saturation - but you get what i mean.)
5 years ago
If anyone is mildly interested, Undercover is up for sale on cdwow.com.au for $12.29!!

Still not worth it???

Can't decide if I'll just play Most Wanted again or grab this bargain...
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| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  20/11/2008 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Electronic Arts
Genre:
  Racing
Year Made:
  2008

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