|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.
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.
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 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.
CCC Editor / News Director