Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

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

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Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Fast and The Furious Review

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The Fast and the Furious is a film series that many are familiar with at this point. It is getting close to 10 films at this point and the films are earning more and more money as they go on. The latter ones look pretty exciting, but this film doesn’t exactly start the series on a high note. Some cool races to be sure, but it was lacking in other areas.

There are many people engaged in underground racing and the FBI sends an agent in. The agent’s name is Brian and he must gain the trust of these outlaws and find some proof so they could be locked away. As serious as the underground racing is, the mysterious attacks on truck drivers is even worse. Unfortunately, the agent begins to develop feelings for one of the characters and starts to become friends with the boss, Dominic. Brian may be in a little too deep now!

It is a pretty good premise…well, mostly anyway. The beginning of the film feels like a level from Need For Speed as the newcomer challenges the pros so that he can earn some respect. The night race is pretty good. The visuals are not quite as exciting as its counterparts in Speed Racer and Need For Speed, but this is only the first film so it will likely improve as the series goes on. The races are the selling point of the series after all. If the film had kept that as a focus then it could have been really good, unfortunately that didn’t happen.

The film really suffers from the fanservice and unnecessary scenes of romance/physical pleasure. Most of the characters are in the slums area and they hang out with many shady characters. A lot of attention is drawn to the skimpy attire that the characters wear and it’s all in rather poor taste. This may be underground racing, but I would prefer the film to place the emphasis on the dangerous racing than on the background characters. This is an obstacle that the film never gets around. It simply keeps popping up over and over again.

The main character isn’t likable either as a result since he quickly succumbs to a one night stand. Brian likes the character, but if she is that easy then he should probably reconsider the situation. His final decision is also one that I don’t agree with. Naturally, the film tried to make Dominic sympathetic, but he was still guilty. Do the crime and then do the time. He shouldn’t be left off the hook so easily just because he experienced a sad event back in the day. As long as he stays in such a troubled environment, problems will continue to occur around him. Of course, these two characters were still a lot better than most of the supporting characters, but that isn’t saying a whole lot. None of them were actually likable after all.

The language wasn’t as much of a problem as I had expected given how the characters were interacting. There is still some there, but it was not abundant enough to really warrant much of a warning. You will likely forget about it by the end. The film isn’t very violent either although the scene where the villains force someone to swallow motor oil is a little intense. A guy also gets stuck to a truck, which makes his arm get pretty injured. By and large, it’s still nothing worse than the average action film. Actually, it turns out that the film does have quite a bit of language. With 3 ultimately bad words and a high number of others, the language does actually work against the film. I saw the TV version, which edited out most of the language, but if you end up watching it on DVD or somewhere where the language is kept in, then I deduct the rating to a 2 and definitely advise you to stay away from this title. Check out a good Pac Man ep for fun or some Speed Racer cartoons if you want another racing dvd.

As this is a film with a lot of car action, there is bound to be a lot of plot hax. Driving at high speeds without hitting any other cars when there are a lot of blind turns. The cops crash a lot of course. The biggest scene does not involve a race though, it was the battle against the truck driver. With his shotgun, the heroes should have been doomed from the start. He had a lot of point blank opportunities to hit them and simply breaking would have saved him several times. At least the truck driver won in the final battle, but the casualties would likely have been a lot higher. The first encounter was also pretty suspect as the driver just stood there and watched as he got pwned. I hope that they would put up a better fight if this happened in real life.

The government hangs out in the shadows as you would expect and they show that merely having a lot of resources is not always good enough to solve the case. They only have one special agent on the field so they really are running in blind the entire time. They talk a pretty good game and it is amusing to see their bravado in the midst of such a tricky situation, but the ultimate irony is that they were actually right from the start this time. They pegged it on Dominic from the very beginning and the main character is the one who tried to divert suspicion away from him. So, if you ever wanted to see the government look sort of smart in a film like this…this could be your big chance.

The soundtrack is very fast and lively, but it could still be better. This is one of those times where instrumental just works better. The lyrics are just distracting and while you probably won’t even know what they are saying, it would be for the best if they had just left then out. The actual rhythms certainly work well with the film though.

Overall, The Fast and the Furious is a film that could have been much better than it was. It was plagued by many of the problems that arise in the average film, but to a higher degree than you would expect. The film tries a little too hard to depict how the slums look and goes overboard on making every character unlikable. The racing scenes are typically a lot of fun, but we only get 2 real races in the film. There are a lot of scenes that involve cars in other ways, but I would have liked some more pure races. I am confident that the series will improve and I recommend just taking a pass on this title. If you want some good races, then check out Speed Racer!

Overall 3/10