Need for Speed: Undercover Review
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Need for Speed: Undercover box art
System: X360, PS3, PC, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS 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. 18, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 (2 Online) 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Not only does the A.I. have better cars as the game goes on, but it seems to throttle the difficulty in a strange way. During early races, the computer rarely dashes in front of you, assuming you're hitting top speeds and handling your turns well. Later on, the A.I. seems almost glued to the road, rarely making mistakes. It will barely brake for big hairpin turns, leaving you left to catch up, yet once it hits a straightway it will slow down. Obviously, this is a form of rubber band A.I., as the developers assumed players would have trouble with turns and make up for the speed loss on straight-aways.

Need for Speed: Undercover screenshot

Undercover may have a huge event list, but fun doesn't necessarily come from variety. Although the majority of the events – like Circuit, Sprint, and Knockout – are solid, not all the modes fare well. Two cop-heavy modes – Getaway and Hot Car – are irritating. In both, you end the event by making it to a safe house. The trouble is that once you get near the safe house, the cops try to box you in, and whenever you try to lose them, they catch right back up. Instead of running, the optimal solution is simply to ram the cop cars, wrecking them, and then proceed back to the safe house. Sometimes, even when a cop is quite far behind you, the game will claim that he's on your tail and you have to exit the safe house, wreck the cop car, and re-enter.

There's also a variety problem when it comes to road design. You'll travel most of Undercover's fake city within the first hour and after that begin to notice how different events re-use the same stretch of road over-and-over again. Most of the makeshift tracks feature gray skyline and not much else. Pair this sterile, repetitive design with an A.I. that behaves the same from race-to-race, and the whole formula gets repetitive. That's not to say the fun factor goes out the window – it just renders the game more of a pick-up-and-play experience instead of one that would occupy your attention for generous stretches of time.


Need for Speed: Undercover does a solid job of delivering a competent and accessible racer to DS owners. Gamers looking for a more customization-heavy or in-depth racing experience should look elsewhere. However, those that want a portable title that delivers some arcade-centric racing action on the go should give the title a try.

By Jason Lauritzen
CCC Freelance Writer

The cars have a decent amount of detail, but don't expect much in terms of scenery diversity – most of the races look very similar. Undercover has a solid framerate that never dips; a definite plus.
The controls skew more in the direction of arcade than simulation. It's quite easy to pull off drifts and slide through long turns. The only trouble comes later on when you get up to high speeds – it always seems like there's that turn or two that you can't help slamming into.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Most of the music goes in the instrumental category, which isn't a bad thing. The tracks – with their electronica vibe – suit the game well. All the expected sound effects – like tire squeals and crashes – are well done.

Play Value
With over 60 events, there's a lot of content on display. But that's the trouble: a lot of it is artificial, making you race the same tracks over-and-over again. The car upgrade system isn't all that great, as it simply is reduced to buying the latest, fastest car. Overall, though, there's a lot of serviceable racing packed onto the DS cartridge.

Overall Rating - Fair
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.
  • 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 AI mechanics mean more aggressive and intelligent cops focused on taking you out fast and by any means necessary.
  • Criminal Scramble: Be a cop and chase down criminals in the Criminal Scramble Mode.
  • Heroic Driving Engine: Pull off amazing moves for the ultimate driving edge.

  • Screenshots / Images

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