Need For Speed Undercover Review


Looks like the Need for Speed marathon is finally at an end. I’ll play through the next one at some point but at least for right now this will be it. Undercover is definitely a very solid installment in the series though. Not only does it have a lot of content to go through but it also takes us back to the more plot driven direction of the earlier games. It could stand to have more of a focused story but even just having boss battles is a big improvement over the last few. It’s just hard to top that and I wonder what they’ll do for an encore.

The game starts with the main character being tasked with the assignment of going undercover in order to take down a bunch of renegade racers. Gangs are popping up everywhere and you have to stay undercover until you find the big boss. The tricky thing is that you start to sympathize with some of these racers who are just trying their best to live and survive in what is considered a pretty frightening world. Is there any way that the hero can let them off easy? He’ll have to also avoid attracting too much attention since some characters already think that he’s probably compromised. It sure is difficult to keep getting these guys arrested while the lead is somehow safe.

I feel like the villains should have known something was up the instant we busted an entire gang, leaving the main character as the only guy left. At this point we joined another gang and did the same thing but really? That’s super suspicious. The main character doesn’t get to appear all that much and even gets censored during the quick cutscenes with the cops so we don’t see him all that clearly. I suppose he seems like a nice enough guy but also a very gullible one who is easy to manipulate. His driving skills are second to none though and the villains learn that the hard way. The ending has a lot of things happening so you’ll need to pay attention to that.

Unfortunately the sound mixing wasn’t very good. The gameplay and music while in the race are much louder than the actual cutscenes. What this means is that you’ll be playing normally when suddenly a cutscene occurs and you need to raise the volume. If you don’t then what ends up happening is you won’t be able to hear what’s going on quite as well. I don’t really get how something like this would make it past the play testing since it seems like a quick fix. Beyond that, it has the usual EA soundtrack. There are a lot of songs here and they’re all pretty fast paced so I’d say that you’re bound to find at least a few that you’ll like. I’d be surprised if you didn’t. The ending song is definitely a pretty intense one and ends as if this was a theatrical movie. Pretty epic if you ask me.

Then you’ve got the graphics which are solid as always. EA has never disappointed in this area and I wouldn’t expect them to start now. The cars look excellent and so driving through the city is a lot of fun. It’s all or mostly all in the daytime though so surprisingly we’re still not getting a lot of night levels. I know those can be risky since it can be hard to get the night look while not getting too dark but I think they can pull it off. Regardless, the hub world is quite huge and the fact that you can drive around the whole thing and pick up missions is a blast if you ask me. The cutscenes also look really good like the big boss battle at the end where the car jumps off the road. It helps really get you into the swing of things.

The gameplay is easy enough to describe. It’s the same 3D racing that you’re used to and is as fun as always. Using your nitro to get away is nice or quickly spinning a 180 and zooming away as the other racers get confused is just as satisfying. You really can’t go wrong with the gameplay here. There are no bonus competitions like drifting or any of that this time. It’s all about racing and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This makes the most sense in context after all. You will get new cars as you go through the game and can upgrade them but the process has been very simplified compared to how it was in other titles. I think this game has pretty much nailed down the formula so they should really stick to this going forward. You still need to take a look at your car every now and again but not constantly. Aside from free roam you can also use the GPS to jump straight into a race. You can tell which events are story ones because the icon will be wrapped in a circle which looks very fancy.

If you complete a level very quickly you will have “dominated” it which allows you to permanently increase a stat. You don’t get to choose which one but they certainly add up. I recommend going for the dominate as much as possible because the stats and discounts add up very quickly. Without them I imagine that this would be considerably more difficult. The main game’s campaign took me a little over 10 hours so when you add up all the extra events that should probably take you to around 14-15 hours. Pretty good deal for the game if you ask me. You certainly won’t be wanting for content by the time you’re done with all of this. Undercover is really the complete package for a Need for Speed title.

Overall, I’ll definitely miss Undercover. It’s definitely the most complete game in the series I’ve played since Underground. If you like racing around the city and enjoy Free Roam then this is definitely the game for you. It’ll remind you of Driver with the added danger of having to run from the cops. The cop chases here can definitely be very intense. There’s not a whole lot you can do about the hellicopters and their vans really smash your car out of the way. The game runs well and the graphics are sharp. I only encountered one glitch where I seemingly won a level too quickly which was odd so it didn’t count. It seems like that’s not something you would typically need to worry about though so I wouldn’t sweat it. Could be a while, but we’ll see where the series goes from here.

Overall 7/10

Need For Speed Undercover Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 10h 1m
Total Drive Distance 658.4 Miles
Total Cash Earned 912,690
Longest Pursuit 5m 20s
Career Complete 100%
Game Complete 63%
Wheelman Level 15
Total Cost to State 928,886
Total Zone Points 575,910
Events Dominated 69/157
Events Won 119/187

Need For Speed Underground Stats and Records

Stats Time!

Races 609
Wins 128
Losses 112
Win% 21%
Total Mileage 1009.14
Total Style Points 1677019
Circuit Races 156
Circuit Wins 47
Circuit Style Points 515009
Sprint Races 67
Sprint Wins 33
Sprint Style Points 117599
Drag Races 290
Drag Wins 27
Drag Style Points 103142
Times Totaled 6
Drift Races 96
Drift Wins 21
Drift Style Points 937847

Need For Speed Underground Review

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This is a game that I’ve owned for maybe 5-6 years at this point. It’s certainly been a very long time and I had played it off and on for a few years. Finally, I decided to crack down on it and complete the game once and for all about a month ago. After many races, I finally did manage to take the game down. I can safely say that it’s not perfect and some areas do hurt it, but as a racing game, it is very good.

The plot involves a new racer in town. This is the guy that you play as and he’s ready to move up the ranks. One of the ladies involved in the scene helps to get you ready and gives you intel about the other racers as you move up the ranks. You must become the best racer in every type of race to get to the end. After a lot of races, you are ready to fight the big boss. The main villain is someone who has plagued you for some time so you’ve been waiting for this. There is actually a secret final boss where a mysterious racer shows up and challenges you. The twist of who is inside it is slightly expected as there weren’t many characters in the game, but it’s still pretty neat. It’ll remind you of the final F Zero GX level.

First off, I have to criticize Story Mode. There are 118 levels in the game. That’s a whole lot of levels and while it is always good for a game not to be too short, this is simply overdone. It took me a grand total of 609 races to complete the 118 levels. If they were 118 original levels, that’s one thing, but most of the time you will be racing on the exact same tracks. Over and over again. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were only about 20 tracks given how often it would be the same ones. Sometimes they would be mirrored to try and trick you, but I count that as the same stage.

118 levels is definitely too much if you ask me. The levels are also decently challenging so just around 40-50 would have still made for a decently long game. Again, it took 609 tries for 118 levels, which shows you just how tricky these levels can be. Sometimes I would have to try a level about 30 times and would only end up winning because my opponent would crash and I would take the chance to leap to victory. I did enjoy that part though as a lot of racing games just make the A.I. completely perfect so they never crash into anything. It’s safe to say that this is more realistic as nobody should be able to navigate these levels without crashing or at least banging into the side rails.

Finally, my other negative would be the soundtrack and it’s actually significant enough to take away an entire star. It’s just downright terrible and they’re going for an underground feel. As such, most of the music isn’t enjoyable to listen too and I’m pretty sure that they’re not very appropriate. That being said, the lyrics are hard to hear since the singers are fairly bad and I ended up just turning the music off for most of the races so I would just hear the sound effects. Trust me, it’s not nearly as fun and it’s sad that I had to go that far.

Otherwise, the game is great as a racing title. The actual gameplay is a lot of fun and while there is a slight nitro boost, you’re essentially playing a normal racing game for the most part. That was a lot of fun and the controls are much smoother than Hot Pursuit 2’s. I can see the gameplay getting even better with the newer additions and this is the main reason as to how I could stick with the game throughout so many races. They would get tough as times and I would have to replay levels, but the gameplay was fun enough that I didn’t mind as much as I could have. I only learned about the power braking towards the end though, which is too bad since it would have been very helpful in a lot of the drift levels.

There is a lot of customizing to be done here and it’s typically required to upgrade your car every 20 levels or so. By the time that you are done, your car will be maxed out in just about everything and you’ll be moving at really high speeds. It’s a double edged sword of course as it can be easy to crash and instead of going with the best car, you may want to consider a slower model. I tried that for a while, but then I remembered that I love to go fast so I used the fastest car for the final levels. I’d say that it’s worth it unless the level has a lot of sharp turns.

The graphics are decently good. I definitely like how the levels look as well as the cars. The human designs are the ones that do tend to look a little iffy as they are pretty undetailed, but I suppose that most of the time working on this game was spent on the environments and cars. That would make a lot of sense so it’s all right that the humans don’t look great. The graphics aren’t perfect, but they get the job done and you can typically see the levels clearly although the overall game is pretty dark so you may need to increase the lighting.

This game was quite the adventure and I’ll definitely be enjoying a nice break from it. Once I’m ready to get back in the saddle again, I’ll buy Underground 2. The only problem is that I’ve heard that it has over 200 levels this time. That sounds even more extreme and I can’t say that I’m too enthusiastic about that, but I want to make it to the newer games already so I shall power through it.

Overall, Need For Speed Underground has improved from Hot Pursuit 2. The gameplay is great and that would have usually been enough to have given the game an 8 star rating. The soundtrack held it back along with the tedious story mode. Seriously, no game should take you over 600 races to complete. That’s simply overdone. The difficulty level was good as it was tough to complete the game, but not overly difficult where you will be wondering how the A.I. can move so fast. Some of the levels were a tad long though and I think that they should all be 3 laps at the most instead of 5-6. Let me tell you, replaying a 6 lap race more than once is no picnic. I definitely recommend getting this game if you are looking for a good racing experience, just have your MP3 player by your side during the races. There are some brief cutscenes which is cool, but there aren’t many of them.

Overall 7/10