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Electronic Arts Canada
Electronic Arts Games
November 17, 2004

Need For Speed Underground 2

The follow-up to last years popular Need for Speed Underground, Need for Speed Underground 2, has taken quite a step away and beyond the original. Fans need not worry, many of the old aspects to the game remain they have just been added to in a way that makes the game much longer and much more engaging. One of these add-ons for example is 200 kilometers of track, as opposed to the measly 40 in the original. Read on if you wish to know more about this good-looking addition to the Need for Speed series.



Your main goal in Need for Speed Underground 2 is to become the best of the best in the underground racing circuit. But unlike the linear story mode of the original, where you had to take place in a set number of races in order to progress through the game, Need for Speed Underground 2 offers a greater amount of flexibility. Now you can take place in just about any race at anytime, but that does not mean you will win every race right away.

The game takes place in a free form environment, a city of course (five times the size of the original), much like the one found in the current Grand Theft Auto games. The city is composed of five different neighborhoods, each of which you are able to drive through with absolutely no loading times (you can drive from the bottom of the city all the way to the very top boundary and not experience a lick of loading!). There are no restrictions on where you are able to go, so if you don’t feel like racing at a particular moment you can just cruise around and enjoy the visuals of the city.

Because of the dramatic size of the yet-to-be-named metropolis (no name has been decided yet for the city) you will be doing a lot of exploration. There are a number of hidden shops and opponents running about the city. As you run across these opponents and challenge them, victory will sometimes wield information on where to find other hidden shops and racers. The great thing about finding these hidden shops is that as you find them they will be added to your map and the parts found in that shop will then be found in all other shops throughout the city. This is so you don’t have to keep trekking back and forth to one shop in order to find what you need. Exploration is key to finding prime parts for your car and for finding some good challenging opponents so in order to race through the game with style, you probably should find these little hiding bonuses.

Building and customizing your car remains a very important aspect in Need for Speed Underground 2. The entire process has been upgraded in order to better suit the casual gamer (and of course posses more variety), but for those of you who enjoy tweaking the engine and gears until you get 100% out of your car, the game enables you to do that as well (yes, you are now able to tune your engine). As you progress through the game you will run across new purchase shops in various locations in the city (twenty in all), some of which cannot be discovered until you get information about their whereabouts from certain racers that you’ve beaten. Included in these shops are visual add-ons for your car such as fenders, windows, rims, hoods, wheels, and so on along with having a place to tune your engine. The cool thing about these shops is that you are able to buy new parts and upgrades for your car individually, or, for those of you who are not quite knowledgeable on the construction side, you are able to buy pre-made kits and be finished with all of the construction. Customization remains a large part in this sequel and it will offer 20 plus parts to upgrade, enhance, modify, or tweak to your liking.

Because of the large scale of the city you will be kept updated via a virtual phone. These updates include challenges from other racers, updates from car shops, or news of upcoming races. By accepting the challenges, you are able to race different opponents (duh) and earn some cash to put forth towards your car. In order to reach most of these and other races you will be required to venture to a certain location in the city, but in a city this large how can you find the desired spot? Simply by looking at the mini-map in the lower left hand corner of the screen or course! Each type of race is color coded on the map in order for you to choose which one you would like to participate in, rather than going to a location and taking a chance on what type of race your competing in.

The interesting thing about some races is that once you finish them, you may find yourself in a different location of the city all together. Another tidbit of interesting information is that if you are a person who doesn’t enjoy a particular race, for example the circuit racing, you are not required to go through all of those races. What I mean is, you are able to finish the game without painfully competing in races that you personally don’t like or have trouble racing in. This is a cool new aspect to the game that makes it all the more enjoyable.

The gameplay in Need for Speed Underground 2 has been tweaked a bit in order to make for a more dramatic racing experience. Drifting has been tweaked in order to take advantage of the different street types and the game’s physics have been altered a tad in order to make the cars slide a bit more. Also, your style points are added to your nitros meter making for a faster-paced and more exciting racing experience. Not much else has been altered from the original but this game seems to promise some hefty racing, roughly 150 of them in all!

Need for Speed Underground 2 posses all of the race modes found in the original and a few new races as well. These new races are called Street X (pronounced Street Cross) and Outrun. In Street X, you take place in races on small, tight tracks with laps that range from about 30-40 seconds in length. These small tracks are made up of tight turns, u-turns, and some aggressive AI. Your opponents on these tracks have been given an aggression boost that makes for much more contact in competition. Instead of cars following heel to toe down the track, they’ll be bashing into each other and aggressively trying to make their way to the head of the pack. These small yet exciting races promise to be quite a blast (I’d have fun with ‘em).

The Outrun races are much different from the Street X. In Outrun, you are to follow another tuner car (racer) that is travelling through the city and match up to his speed. After doing this for a period of time, the game will seamlessly switch into Outrun mode and the real race begins. You then follow whoever is in the lead as they weave in and out of city streets, avoiding traffic and the likes. Your goal is to leave your opponent in 300 meters of dust (getting 300 meters ahead of them) without falling that far behind yourself, if you do either of these, the race is over. Multiple cars are able to compete in these races and they do seem quite fun and challenging. Some Outrun races are said to have lasted from ten seconds to ten minutes, it all depends on how evenly matched the cars are.

The graphics in Need for Speed Underground 2 seem to surpass those of the first, but not by too much. The cars themselves look fantastic and are full of detail. They’ve kept the same glossy, wet look that was in the original and the smoke effects from burnouts look pretty nice. The environments in the game look very nicely detailed, trees sway in the wind and lights reflect realistically off of cat-eye markers (little reflective markers in the road that help keep you on track, also known as drunk bumps) and cars alike. Detail is definitely apparent in this game as the environments and cars alike both sport an amazing amount of it. Weather effects are going to take place in the form of light, medium, and heavy rains. Realistically, it can be raining in one part of the city and remain completely dry in another. There will also be winds that blow at varying speed along with night-to-day effects. The game takes place at night (as does this type of racing culture) so players will be witnessing a change in light from a softly light dusk, to a dark black night, and then warming up to a lighter dawn. Overall, the graphics look like they’re coming along very nicely and I can’t wait to see the game evolve (graphic-wise) up until the final product releases in November.

word on the street

Need for Speed Underground 2 is promising to become one of this years greatest, if not the best, racing games. With two new modes added to the original ones, a slew of new cars, parts, accessories, and tracks, Need for Speed Underground 2 sounds like a winner. With new races and new areas to go in a gigantic city five times the size of the original, this game promises to deliver hours upon hours of racing, exploring, and customizing in a variety of different ways.

press release notes

  • Free-Roaming City: Explore a massive city divided into five distinct, interconnected neighborhoods, ranging from serpentine suburban hills to an intense downtown grid. A complex series of drivable freeways connect the neighborhoods together.
  • Emergent Gameplay: Want to make a name for yourself in the underground? You’ll need to find it first. Races can happen anywhere and at any time and as players encounter rivals on the street they’ll be clued into where they can buy the hottest upgrades or enter the most elite events.
  • New Gameplay Modes: Three new gameplay modes are added to last year’s circuit, drift and drag competitions, challenging gamers to hone their skills in a number of driving disciplines.
  • Performance Tuning: Tune every aspect of your car’s performance with hundreds of licensed aftermarket performance upgrades and then fine-tune everything from the gear ratio to the suspension for the ultimate ride.
  • The Hottest Cars: More than thirty of the most sought-after tuner cars are available from the hottest manufacturers--from Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, and Toyota to Ford and Volkswagen, if they’re hot on the street, they’re in the game.
  • Visual Customization: With more than twice the visual customizations of last year’s game, there are literally billions of car combinations available to gamers. Featuring audio upgrades, scissor doors, spoilers, headlights, side skirts, roof scoops, hoods, rims, wide body kits, neon and more, if you can trick it out in real life, you can trick it out in Need for Speed Underground 2.
  • Environmental Variety: Each of the five distinct neighborhoods in Need for Speed Underground 2 feature a unique look and feel, including varied driving conditions and track types. Road surfaces, real-time weather effects, and environmental hazards will keep gamers on their toes as they race from dusk till dawn.


All in all, Need for Speed Underground 2 looks to be coming along very nicely. With some outstanding visuals, great new modes, a slew of new customization options, and over 200 kilometers of track spanning across about 150 races all in a city that’s five times the size of the original, this is a racing game for the ages. With about 500 (exaggeration of course) new titles coming out for the GameCube this November along with the possible release of the DS, Nintendo fans have a lot to look forward to (so many games yet so little time). Need for Speed Underground is just another game to add to this list, but fans of the first and of racing games, put this on the top of your list, this ones for you.

Staff Avatar Geofferey Winter
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"So THAT'S what it's for!"

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