|System: X360, PS3, PC, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Black Box||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 18, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (2 Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Not only does the A.I. have better cars as the game goes on, but it seems to throttle the difficulty in a strange way. During early races, the computer rarely dashes in front of you, assuming you're hitting top speeds and handling your turns well. Later on, the A.I. seems almost glued to the road, rarely making mistakes. It will barely brake for big hairpin turns, leaving you left to catch up, yet once it hits a straightway it will slow down. Obviously, this is a form of rubber band A.I., as the developers assumed players would have trouble with turns and make up for the speed loss on straight-aways.
Undercover may have a huge event list, but fun doesn't necessarily come from variety. Although the majority of the events like Circuit, Sprint, and Knockout are solid, not all the modes fare well. Two cop-heavy modes Getaway and Hot Car are irritating. In both, you end the event by making it to a safe house. The trouble is that once you get near the safe house, the cops try to box you in, and whenever you try to lose them, they catch right back up. Instead of running, the optimal solution is simply to ram the cop cars, wrecking them, and then proceed back to the safe house. Sometimes, even when a cop is quite far behind you, the game will claim that he's on your tail and you have to exit the safe house, wreck the cop car, and re-enter.
There's also a variety problem when it comes to road design. You'll travel most of Undercover's fake city within the first hour and after that begin to notice how different events re-use the same stretch of road over-and-over again. Most of the makeshift tracks feature gray skyline and not much else. Pair this sterile, repetitive design with an A.I. that behaves the same from race-to-race, and the whole formula gets repetitive. That's not to say the fun factor goes out the window it just renders the game more of a pick-up-and-play experience instead of one that would occupy your attention for generous stretches of time.
Need for Speed: Undercover does a solid job of delivering a competent and accessible racer to DS owners. Gamers looking for a more customization-heavy or in-depth racing experience should look elsewhere. However, those that want a portable title that delivers some arcade-centric racing action on the go should give the title a try.
CCC Freelance Writer