|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|
by Cole Smith
Need For Speed Undercover has so little going for it that I'm going to recommend a rental on this one if you're seriously thinking about getting it. The best way I can describe it is a poor man's Grand Theft Auto. You decide which version of GTA. Although this is a racing game, whatever you would consider racing in GTA is much better than what you'll find here. Don't be fooled by the cool looking trailers, because that's not what you're getting on the PSP. This is a next-gen hand-me-down. Let's not even talk about the lame storyline and the way it's presented. Okay, you know I'm going to talk about it.
It's really puzzling how a series like this can be so inconsistent from game to game. I can see if new developers came in, or if it was created for a new gaming system, or even if something unique was attempted in the control scheme or otherwise. I've looked high and low and there's absolutely no excuse for this clump of code called Need For Speed Undercover. This Speed, I don't need, indeed.
There's no shortage of modes, but don't let that fool you. As a racing game, it's flawed mechanically. No variety of modes is going to solve that. While I have to be fair, things typically do get a little better when you acquire more expensive cars with upgrades. But it doesn't happen with all of them. Even if that was the case, having to play through half of the game with cumbersome vehicles is not much fun at all.
Before I start bitching about the way the vehicles handle, let me briefly mention the storyline. You're some nondescript, schlep cop enticed into working with a hot dame cop who wants you to help bust an international crime organization. She'll stop at nothing to attempt to influence you with her steely sexuality; very professional ma'am. Of course, you accomplish your missions through racing. Be thankful this isn't Guitar Hero or Konamix Revolution, so you won't have to play guitar or dance to crack open the case. To make matters worse, the story is presented in text with the entire dialogue taking place over the phone. Exciting huh? Well, that could arguably be the most exciting part of the game.
There are plenty of elements in this title, but they seem to actually mock the potential it hints at, as the game just doesn't live up to expectations. There are races and chases with cops and oncoming traffic to avoid. Various modes mix things up a little, such as the Eliminator mode in which the last vehicle at each lap is eliminated. Lead mode requires that you get to the head of the pack and maintain at least 300 meters distance between the second place vehicle. There are quick races, sprint races, and tournament-style races. There's really no cohesion between the gameplay and the storyline. The game is just a series of races held together by a weak plot with even weaker presentation. Why even bother with the story?
One of the most frustrating aspects of this game is the vehicle physics. There is virtually no powersliding until the last segment of the game. Braking while turning a corner will cause you to simply continue in the same direction that you entered the turn with. This goes for regular brakes and the handbrake as well. There's absolutely nothing you can do to get these vehicles to smooth out a corner with any braking mechanism involved. The upgrades will give you some marginal improvements but it takes until about halfway through the game before you notice any significant differences.