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24 Nov, 2004

Need for Speed: Underground 2 Review

Xbox Review | We're going deeper underground, so is it a good experience or would we like to go to the surface?
Need for Speed: Underground 2 is the sequel to the best selling game of 2003 Need for Speed: Underground. The original Underground sold over three million copies world wide and completely reinvented the Need for Speed series. However, just because a game sells well, does not mean that it was a good game (case in point Enter the Matrix) Underground was a good game but was not a great game. It had many faults and was far from perfect.

So, EA have gone back to the drawing board and completely remodeled Need for Speed: Underground. In one year they have made some phenomenal changes to the game which retain the feel of the original game but also improve upon the original game. However, are all the improvements good? Or will this be yet another short lived experience?

For those who are unaware Need for Speed: Underground is best described as 2 Fast 2 Furious in video game form. Gamers tune their ride and add performance parts to take part in underground street races. Winning the races earns the gamer reputation and money. Aside from the modifications to the car which make it go faster there are also visual upgrades which can be applied to the cars. This also helps to improve your street credentials, some of these visual upgrades include bigger spoilers, neon lights and tinted windows.

Last year, Need for Speed: Underground was part of only a few arcade racers released in 2003, This year the market is flooded with a plethora of arcade racers including Flat Out, Burnout 3, Ford Racing 3 and Crash N Burn only to name a few. This time around, EA knew Underground 2 needed to be bigger and better or it would simply be ignored.


So, what’s keeping us coming back for more? Xbox Live support is included for those of you who like to go online. This is one of the few Xbox games in Australia which support Xbox Live and we are glad that this mode was retained for the PAL release. Playstation 2 Network support is also included for those who pick up the Playstation 2 version.

One of the most hyped up inclusions in Underground 2 is the free-roaming city. Unlike most other arcade racers out there Underground 2 is nearly void of any menu system. The city is entirely free-roaming and races take place in this city, so all races might seem a little familiar, there are five different neighborhoods which are all linked together. While this is a different way to approach the game, Midnight Club II did this nearly two years ago.

Everything takes place in the free-roaming city, Gamers will encounter rival racers who will initiate events, tip players off to the hottest racing spots, and show them where to buy the most sought-after licensed aftermarket upgrades. The game also features more than 30 officially licensed cars (which unfortunately means no damage) and also offers twice the amount of visual customization upgrades as the original game. EA claim that up to 70 billion possible car combinations can be created, so far we’ve done about thirty different combinations, so we’re getting close. However, don’t expect us to be testing this claim any time soon.

All of the race types from the original Underground have been retained and some new ones have been added as well. There are now Street X and Underground Racing League races. Neither of them are particularly exciting, but they do add some variety to the game. It also rains in the city and your cars traction will be reduced which does affect your handling.

There are three difficulty levels (Easy, Normal, Hard) which means that most people should be able to get into the game quite quickly without finding it to complicated, Although navigating all the options can be extremely confusing. Continuing with what EA did with Burnout 3 there are actually advertisements scattered throughout the city, including companies such as Hungry Jacks and Best Buy.

So, as can be seen from all the inclusions in the game, it has advanced but it hasn’t evolved. None of the inclusions are particularly “must haves” in the game and at times this can make Underground 2 feel just like its predecessor, which most people will say isn’t a bad thing. We would have liked the game to have changed more though. The game feels and plays just like the previous game as well, the game engine doesn’t appear to have changed at all either.


The lifespan of Underground 2 is upgraded as well. The game will now take a lot longer to finish and there is always the online support. The original could be knocked over in about ten hours, but this should last for at least fifteen, more car combinations also allows for more modifications which will make the game last longer.

EA have done a good job in making the audio sound like it should in a game like this. Most of the songs aren’t anything you would choose to listen to but are okay and well suited to the game. It is very clear that the most recognizable song in the game is “Black Betty” by Spiderbait. There are twenty seven officially licensed songs. Unfortunately we couldn’t find custom soundtrack support for the Xbox which is a big omission.

Need for Speed: Underground 2 is a worthy upgrade to its predecessor and EA have worked hard in a year to distinguish this game from its older brother. Some gamers may be frustrated by the familiarity this game shares with the original Underground but, just like its predecessor Underground 2 is a great game that is filled with plenty of content and will make fans of Fast and the Furious and 2 Fast 2 Furious extremely happy.

Those casual gamers who are picking up the title just because they are a fan of the Need for Speed series, or arcade games in general will also be pleased with the game, as it delivers enough options to keep most people entertained for a very long time.
The Score
Need for Speed Underground 2 is a lot better than its predecessor and is a great title that can be enjoyed by all arcade racing enthusiasts.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Need for Speed: Underground 2 Content

Need for Speed: Underground 2 Review
26 Aug, 2005 Yet another lacklustre DS racer?
Electronic Arts and Snoop Dogg team up for Need For Speed Underground 2
29 Oct, 2004 Exclusive songs geared for game’s soundtrack.
Need For Speed: Underground 2 Preview
19 Sep, 2004 We go Underground and hands on with Need For Speed: Underground 2.
9 Comments
9 years ago
i'm still waiting for my copy to come in icon_sad.gif
9 years ago
Personally I don't like the free roaming city myself... Easy access menus like in Underground 1 for me icon_biggrin.gif
9 years ago
Terrible, terrible game. I'd trade this in for NFSU instantly.
9 years ago
gah, now i wish i had the thing... these bad quips are getting me down...

<mumble> stupid already paid but can't pick it up cos the stupid store had their shit hijacked or some shit...</mumble>
9 years ago
GTPod wrote
Terrible, terrible game. I'd trade this in for NFSU instantly.
Shuddup you. icon_razz.gif You'll sit there and like it!

I think the free-roaming is good and bad. It lets you wherever you want when you want, but trying to find everything and getting to an event can get tedious.
9 years ago
GT, do you actually do anything on these forums other than slag every single game off? Or are there one, or possibly even two, games you actually enjoy?
9 years ago
I think he only enjoys Project Gotham 2. It's like the only thing he has played since Gran Turismo 2 (where his first name originated from anyway.) icon_wink.gif

I decided against getting this game actually, I will eventually but at the moment I'm not interested. Don't know why either.. icon_confused.gif
9 years ago
crusen86 wrote
GT, do you actually do anything on these forums other than slag every single game off? Or are there one, or possibly even two, games you actually enjoy?
Yes crusen, the sole purpose of my being here for the last 2 years has been to annoy everyone, and put down every single game ever produced. icon_rolleyes.gif

Of course there are games I like, but criticism stands out way further than praise.

NismoR34 wrote
I think he only enjoys Project Gotham 2. It's like the only thing he has played since Gran Turismo 2 (where his first name originated from anyway.) icon_wink.gif
Hey, Burnout 3 beats PGR2 to death with a firetruck. A firetruck worth many newspaper headlines. icon_razz.gif
9 years ago
GTPod wrote
Hey, Burnout 3 beats PGR2 to death with a firetruck. A firetruck worth many newspaper headlines. icon_razz.gif
You just earned yourself a cookie for being (reasonably) smart. Well done. icon_razz.gif
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  EA Games
Developer:
  EA Black Box

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