|System: PS2, Wii, DS, PSP< X360, PS3, PC||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. 17, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
At the start of Career Mode, races are extremely easy to win even with the stock vehicles provided. As you continue to win races and challenges, your skill level increases as determined by your Driver Skills and Wheelman systems. You are also rewarded for performing various stunts while in a race such as near misses with oncoming traffic to rapidly increase your ranking and bank account to purchase upgrades and other goodies. The reward system for style and stunts also ads for a bit more variety while racing, though it would be nice for the same system to be applied while free-roaming.
One of my only other concerns with this game is the way the races are set up. As you accept a challenge, you are loaded into a typical race track with guard rails and some traffic as you have to battle pedestrians, oncoming vehicles, as well as the cars youre trying to beat. Not only is the setup an unbelievable street race track, but the fact that an organized street race would occur in a downtown area filled with light traffic is pretty unlikely. Remarkably, all through traffic is also blocked off for the street race, which means youll only have to avoid head-on collisions while weaving through traffic. Undercover definitely doesnt offer the most realistic take on street racing, with a return to the arcade feel not present in last years ProStreet.
Cop chases are genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, as overzealous cops in unmarked cars do all they can to box you in by ramming your vehicle and performing P.I.T. maneuvers. Theyll do whatever they can to stop you, and its obvious how much more aggressive cops are behind the wheel in Undercover compared to Most Wanted. Multiple cruisers come out of nowhere, as suicidal officers smack into you at top speed to sandwich you between guardrails and other cop cars. Escaping police isnt entirely difficult, giving the player a fighting chance against Tri-Citys finest, thanks to NFS traditional race mechanics that are forgiving and easy to grasp. Thankfully, the game makes full use of the fun police A.I. with three different single-player modes, including Escape, which is just as it sounds, Cop Take-Out, in which the goal is to wreck a specific number of cruisers, and Coast to State, which rewards you for damaging property while on the lamb.
If you were less keen on last years more realistic ProStreet offering from the NFS series, Undercover returns to the arcade style and cinematic feel of Most Wanted in somewhat of a disappointing fashion. To really enjoy it, the player not only has to overlook serious graphical issues, but also suspend disbelief and take the game with a grain of salt to bare with the script, the way races are set up, and the way lives are put in danger just so you can infiltrate a crime ring by winning hundreds of street races. In all, Undercover may not be the highest in quality or win any awards, but it can offer a good time for those who play it.
CCC Freelance Writer