Need for Speed Undercover Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC | Wii | PS2 | PSP | DS
Need for Speed Undercover box art
System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PC, PSP, DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: EA BlackBox 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 (8 Online) 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Second, though races are painfully easy to win, achieving the Domination classification for a given race is a bit more challenging and was a nice idea. The trouble is it isn't nearly challenging enough. I consider myself to be a neophyte racer at best, and I was still able to dominate 75% of all races on the first try. Thankfully, the inclusion of Master Events does up the ante significantly later on. Nevertheless, the idea behind the inclusion of the Domination multiplier is a solid one that I really enjoyed.

Need for Speed Undercover screenshot

Third, Undercover's Tri-City Bay area is a very large racing playground. There a lot of great highways to abuse, streets to power-slide through, and shortcuts to be found. The size and scope of the maps are quite nice and easy to navigate.

Fourth, progressing from race to race is a snap; simply press down to make your selection. Furthermore, if you do get hosed by the frequent, inexplicably cheap civilian collisions or have a savvy cop T-bone you out of contention, you can restart the event in just a couple of seconds; the load times are very minimal, and it's much appreciated. This comes in especially handy when you're trying to dominate every race as you progress; sometimes you'll have to retry the race, and not having to wait through a prohibitive loading sequence is great! Unfortunately, the same can't be said for tuning and car purchasing. The load times whilst hopping between the 55+ cars, custom paints, and varied vinyls and parts are quite slow. As a result, I shied away from truly customizing the vehicles in my garage and instead simply upgraded their performance with the preset packages.

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Lastly, the online features such as eight-person Sprint and Circuit races and the all-new Cops and Robbers are quite fun. Cops and Robbers is an event where eight players are divided into two teams of four. Robbers try to make off with loot and drop it at a specific zone before time runs out. Meanwhile, cops try and thwart the thieves by totaling the robbers' vehicles or impeding their progress enough so that time runs out. After one round, the opposing teams switch roles. Domination victories are awarded if one team wins as both cops and robbers. The frantic paint trading and demolition derby that results is truly engrossing.

Visually, the game is appealing but not a knock out. The Tri-City Bay area, while expansive, is devoid of true character. Also, the licensed cars available for purchase look nice and even temporarily deform in interesting ways, but they can't come close to competing with the visual dream that is Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. Similarly, the car sounds and street effects are pleasant, but they fail to completely impress. Additionally, voice over work, outside of the awesome police scanner, is very poor due to the lack of acting talent during cutscenes.

Need for Speed Undercover screenshot

Need for Speed: Undercover is an arcade racing game that will provide fans of the series with a fair amount of fun. However, one can't help but notice that the franchise has seen better days. Also, simulation racing enthusiasts simply need not apply, as they'll find the experience quite shallow. In spite of its flaws, Undercover does bring an interesting leveling mechanic and some solid online play to the mix, which keeps the package respectable.

By Jonathan Marx
CCC Editor / News Director

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.6
Graphics
The cars and environments are all nicely captured but fail to completely impress.
3.5
Control
Driving around the Tri-Cities is a breeze. The simple arcade controls are accessible for even novice gamers, though savvy racers will likely blow through this game without ever breaking a sweat.
3.3
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The cars and street noises are passable, and the cutscene acting sequences are mediocre at best. But the chatter over the police scanner is a real treat!
3.5
Play Value
There is a lot of fun to be had in this laidback racer. However, it simply can't compete with elite competition. The few online features, interesting licensed cars, and excellent leveling system do a nice job of beefing up the title.
3.5
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Go Deep Undercover: Race into an action-packed story of pursuit and betrayal. Take on jobs and compete in races to prove yourself as you infiltrate and take down an international crime syndicate.
  • Heroic Driving Engine: An all-new game engine lets you pull off amazing moves for the ultimate driving edge.
  • Highway Battle: Fight off the cops and others as you take down your prey in high-speed, high stake multi-car chases. New and vastly improved A.I. mechanics mean more aggressive and intelligent cops focused on taking you out fast and by any means necessary.
  • Own the Open World: Tear Across the massive highway system and discover the open world of the Gulf Coast Tri-Cities area, with three unique cities connected by an extensive highway system.
  • Online: In addition to the classic sprint and circuit race modes, Need for Speed Undercover features an all-new multiplayer mode, Cops and Robbers. The visceral team-based mode supports up to eight players and pits two teams of four players against each other. Robbers must pick up the money and take it to the drop-off point while the cops attempt to prevent the drop-off.
  • Photo Real Cars and Performance: Over 55 licensed cars are available, featuring performance tuning that enables the player to dynamically adjust the vehicles to create the vehicles that can accommodate all action driving scenarios. Some of the cars include the Mercedes CL55, Audi R8, Porsche 911 GT2, and Nissan 370Z.


  • Screenshots / Images
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