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Need for Speed: Underground 2
I picked up Need For Speed: Underground (the original) without any
real expectations. I didn't have a PC racing game, and usually I enjoy
racing games. I completely enjoyed the game and looked forward to
playing the sequel when it came out.
Retail Price $39.99 for PC
Purchase Link EA Games
I think the game as a whole is really good. I've been playing through on Medium difficulty, and am on level 4 (Coal Harbor East). I think the addition having to drive around town to find and do stuff is great, like the Grand Theft Auto series. I've spent time just driving around aimlessly, and enjoying it! My wife even liked driving around doing nothing. There are a ton of areas to explore, and more become unlocked as you progress through the levels of the game. Using a Logitech Dual Action controller, the cars respond very well. EA also did a very smart thing, and disabled Stability Control by default, as most people complained about it from the demo.
New to the sequel are the addition of new car models, a new mode called Street X (said "Street cross"), and many more modifications that can be done to your car. The Street X mode are regular races, except run on the Drift mode tracks. These require the utmost control as most turns are hairpins and you rarely get close to top speed. Yet they are intense and fun. A GPS system has been implemented, so that people won't get lost trying to make it from one race to another, but can be left off for those who like to explore and find their own way.
What don't I like? Well, in the one actual racetrack I've encountered (in the URL races), it feels like your floating or gliding above the surface, especially from the "hood" camera angle. It just doesn't feel like that in the other races. The "hood" view just doesn't do it for me. I wanted it to, but I just couldn't stand it. The camera just doesn't allow for a full hood to be displayed, yet they try to fit the whole thing in, and it feels distorted. Also, as you get to the higher levels, the AI becomes ruthless, and has a few advantages that the player does not. Since your "reputation" score depends on margin of victory, this will frustrate some of the most veteran drivers.
Another thing is that the level completion % doesn't accurately reflect "hidden" races. If you find a race that isn't on the map, and complete it in addition to all the other races you're supposed to complete, you'll receive over 100% for the level. I'd rather see the hidden races be factored in so it adds up to 100% when you're done, otherwise, you're not really sure you got them all.
And the rain visualization effect seems to have been turned down graphically since the demo, maybe to save lower end systems from a significant performance hit. I still really like how the rain looks on my 6800GT. Also, the rear view mirror looks horrible. A lot worse than the demo, again, probably for lower end systems. I ended up just turning the rear view mirror off, because you really don't use it much, and if you need to look behind you, there is a button dedicated to that camera angle.
Review Date 11/18/04
Reviewer Ludic (Zynon)
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