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Platform: PC, PS2, XB, GC, GBA

Genre: Racing

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Developer: Electronic Arts

ETA: November 17, 2003


Related Links:

Review: Burnout 2 - Point of Impact (GC)

Review: Midnight Club 2 (XB)

Review: Supercar Street Challenge (PC)




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Need for Speed: Underground


nfs underground preview          nfs underground preview


The Need for Speed series reached it’s culmination for me with the Porsche Unleashed installment.  That game had the perfect combination of goal oriented driving that was challenging, races that had tricky shortcuts to master, and a myriad of cars, albeit all Porsches.  Most found it to be a little bit of a disappointment, but for me, the true disappointment in the series came in its most recent installment of Hot Pursuit 2.  With early facts released about Underground, EA looks like it will return to form.


Ever controversial, the world of underground street racing loses no appeal when it comes to today’s youth.  Be it imported tuning or domestic displacement, this era of hot-rodders loves to modify and customize as much as their parents did back in the days of muscle cars.  EA is looking to capitalize on that interest with a game aimed squarely at the car tuning lovers of today. 


So far, the details and screenshots released have made me realize how much I really miss playing a really good street racer complete with creating your ultimate street rod.  From the details, and screenshots released, there seem to be many of the most popular cars in today’s tuner scene.  The indomitable Toyota Supra is there, as is the wet dream of North American tuners, the Nissan Skyline.  Other popular cars include the Ford Focus, the Toyota Celica, the Mitsubishi Eclipse, the Subaru Impreza WRX, and of course, the pedestrian Honda Civic.   


More cars are assured, but what sets the game apart from most other "build it yourself" racers is the myriad of licensed tuner parts available.  Although the following list will mean nothing to the casual car lover, tuners will know and be delighted to see the names Sparco, Eibach, AEM, OZ, Enkei, Greddy, Momo, and many others included. 


What most gamers will be waiting for however will be the racing itself, and NFSU will have the racing modes street racing wannabees, and aspiring law abiding street cruisers want.  There will be drag racing, circuit, drift as well as the familiar knock



out and a couple of others.  Drag will be a straight line affair, with circuit catering to those who actually like to turn the wheel when they drive.  Drift will allow players to attempt drift, or powerslide through turns. 


The rewards for racing in the career mode are tallied through more than just coming in first.  Points will be awarded for your driving style and the techniques you use in your races.  The more points you gain, the more items that become unlocked for you to buy.  The appearance of your car will also affect how you move through the game.  The more tricky your car looks, the more you will be rewarded when winning races and pulling off tricky techniques. 


One of the cooler aspects of NFSU is the online mode.  The appearance of your car as you have designed it will appear the same to other players online as it does to you.  I can’t wait to blow by newbies in all those Honda Civics while all they can do is read my license plate and oogle my rims. 


Good graphics is nothing surprising to me these days and very little really impresses me but the screens for NFSU really shows off how slick and polished the game really is.  Although the game is set only at night, the city streets seem vibrant and the cars just look drop dead gorgeous.  The other technical aspects of the game also show that EA hasn’t held back in attempting to create a technically excellent game.  A Hollywood visual effects expert was hired to make sure the game feels fast, and the audio is THX certified. 


With a multiplatform release scheduled for next month, EA is looking to establish NFSU as the racing game to play this holiday season.  Even with only the cars and licensed tuner parts, import enthusiasts will be lining up for this title.  With so much more though, even casual fans of the racing genre will likely find a lot to like.  If it delivers what’s promised on paper, there should be no way that anyone should pass this one up.


nfs underground preview          nfs underground preview



Twenty fully customizable, licensed cars are included in the game from Mitsubishi Motors, Subaru, Toyota, and many more.


Several unique racing events will be featured in the game including the following:


Drag Racing: Explode off of the line with three other racers, on the brink of control, as you race for the finish line.


Street Racing: Heat up the cold city streets with some high octane, high speed racing, finding the fastest lines through a variety of open city racecourses.


Hundreds of ways to customize your ride. Pick from major aftermarket parts manufacturers including AEM Inc., Audiobahn®, Bilstein®, Dazz Motorsport, DC Sports, Eibach®, Enkei, GReddy Performance Products Inc., HKS®, Holley®, Injen™, Jackson Racing, MOMO, Neuspeed®, Nitrous Express Inc., O.Z®, PIAA, Skunk2 Racing, Sparco®, StreetGlow®, and Turbonetics Inc.


Need for Speed Underground's amazing graphics will immerse gamers in the world of after hours street racing. The diverse urban nighttime environments are modeled after a variety of highly detailed real-world urban landscapes. A new sensation of speed has been created in the game by the award winning Need For Speed team and an OSCAR® nominated Hollywood visual effects expert.


Over 100 unique events give racers the opportunity to earn cash, buy more upgrades, and unlock cars and tracks while increasing their street reputation.


A diverse collection of high-octane music keeps the game rolling.


Online support for up to 4 players on the PlayStation 2 (broadband only) and PC.


- Mark Leung

(October 26, 2003)