of the best sequels, ever, have been released this
Fall. No exception is Need For Speed Underground 2.
A sequel to one of the most popular games of last
year, this one doesn't just pick up where the last
one left off, it passes it on the freeway like a rocket
sled on rails.
amalgam of Midnight Club and Grand Theft Auto, Need
For Speed Underground 2 is aimed at the "hip"
crowd with "current" tunes and slang sprinkled
atop various gameplay formats which have been marinated
in illegal activities. In this case, illegal street
throughout the city of Bayview are several tracks
comprised of public streets, tunnels, freeways and
thoroughfares. Races include drag, circuit, drifting
and Out Run where the object is to lose your opponent
in the dust. Different areas of the city facilitate
different courses. Even though the races take place
at night there are many hazards to navigate such as
oncoming traffic and various roadblocks. There are
no pedestrians and not much is going on in the city
at all which makes it seem like a huge piñata
void of candy or toys.
the city is encouraged although there aren't as many
rewards as I imagined. Drive around looking for secret
areas and you'll discover money and uncover new races
to enter. The key to success in this game is multi-tiered.
It's not enough to be a good racer, you have to be
good in other areas including money management and
are 40 vehicles available in the game which include
models from Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai and even
a Cadillac - unfortunately it's a SUV. The SUVs handle
terribly. It's a wonder why there were included at
all considering how great the other vehicles handle.
all of the cars are licensed they won't display damage.
This encourages sloppy and unrealistic driving techniques
since you can smash head-on into a wall or another
car and remain unscathed.
you find a race you can bet on it. If you win, you
win money, if you lose, you loose money. The money
that you win can be used to purchase more vehicles
or customize existing ones. You can only have five
of them in your garage which may not seem like a big
problem until you gain a reputation. More "rep"
will be awarded depending on how badly you beat your
opponent. Having more rep will result in more lucrative
sponsorship which in turns means more money. The sponsors
will also give you new cars if you meet their requirements
for certain races which are essentially side quests.
your vehicle is easy. You can just change is cosmetically
or actually try to tune-up its performance. Aside
from spoilers, paint jobs, decals and neon lighting,
you can upgrade your engine and test your results
in the Dyno room. After which you can take the vehicle
on a track and see how it performs in real life. The
tweaking does make a difference but then again you
might just find that another vehicle will do the same
job. It's all about experimenting.
such as road conditions and the weather will also
affect your performance. It can rain at any time during
any race. If you're powersliding around corners this
can be a godsend but it can also make you lose control
around turns if you haven't perfected your skills.
you can race against five other players in a variety
of modes. You can talk smack with them vai the headset.
There is a little slowdown but it's not very severe.
Accessing races is easy thanks to the user-friendly
interface in the lobby. Having played a few games
online I was reminded at just how good the AI was
in the single-player modes. The AI takes no prisoners
and can give you just as good, if not better, challenge
than experienced gamers.
not a big fan of the music here and the dialog tries
so hard to be "current" that it just ends
up sounding ludicrous. In case you were unaware, "Yo"
has officially replaced "dude" in the latest
"hip" lexicon. I don't even know who some
of these bands are and by the sounds of their uninspired
offerings, I doubt I'll hear from most of them again.
lighting effects are great. Buildings and streetlights
reflect off the windows and shiny surfaces of the
licensed cars. There are a few more degrees of night
including twilight and just before the dawn. I was
so impressed with the pre-dawn scene that I actually
began to feel tired and it was only 7 PM. You get
to see more of the city than you would in the wee
hours when the city is enveloped in darkness. It's
just too bad that the city is void of any life other
than a few people in cars after work hours.
all the ad placements, this game should be handed
out for free. This is certainly a trend I would like
to see stopped but considering how great this game
is it's doubtful that any one would consider boycotting
it by standing up for some principal.