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Need For Speed Underground 2 Package Art
†GENRE
††Racing
†DEVELOPER
††EA Canada
†PUBLISHER
††Electronic Arts
†NUMBER OF PLAYERS
††1-2
†CONNECTIVITY
††no
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Need For Speed Underground 2

One of the biggest names in racing is back and itís back with a vengeance. Is this game too good and/or too big for its own good? Will I have to take it behind the shed and put her down? No. Itís a sweet game. I couldnít even count which sequel this is, actually. I lost count when I ran out of fingers. Add in all of the Special Editions and Directorís Cuts to account for and Iím half sure itís Need for Speed X. On the safe side, letís just say that itís Need For Speed Underground 2 so we can go have a slurpee.

visuals

Need For Speed Underground 2 is easily the most visually appealing racing game in its genre to date. The look of this game was absolutely beautiful from the get go. The cars look amazing, even though they all look a bit alike. Taking into account all of the visual enhancements to the car, they all look almost the same unless you spend time with all of the different color schemes. The game even makes a Miata look cool, which is an amazing feat. The lighting effects also enhance the look and feel of the cars.

Underground decided that cut-scenes are for fools. Instead, they replaced videos with a kind of picture slide show. The first time I saw one of the picture slideshows, I decided to skip everyone I would come across. They are maybe the farthest thing from visually appealing. Although the character design for Mrs. Brooke Burke is excellent, you can only see her posing fully clothed for so long. In the first picture, sheís looking at you, then in the second picture sheís turned ever so slightly. Purely amazing!

audio

The soundtrack features a play list for of more than 25 songs, and for the most part I liked the vast selection of music. Need For Speed Underground 2 went in a different direction with their soundtrack this time and added a few rock songs. They finally figured that nobody wants to listen to that same rap song every five minutes while playing the game. With tracks from Snapcase, Skindred (who has a kind of hardcore Rasta sound to it), and Ministry, the soundtrack to NFSU 2 appeals to pretty much any gamer. Unless youíre one of those gamers who enjoy the smooth jazz soundings of a mister Kenny G, then youíre just up the creek.

The voice acting in this game has its ups and downs. Upside, the voice acting of Brooke Burke is very well done. On the downside, the voice acting for everyone else is not very well done at all. You can only hear the word "props" so many times before you want to run down the whole crowd in your car or SUV. The sounds of the cars are very accurate, from the tires squealing to the handbrake.

gameplay

Letís talk car modifications. You want them, this gameís got them. Thereís only one catch. You have to go find them. Need For Speed Underground 2 sports a free roaming city where you can drive around wherever youíd like across 125 miles. This is the biggest of its kind for a racing game and, once again, transfers to this genre spectacularly. With a huge free roaming city to drive around in, you have to drive around to find garages to mod your car in. There are a few different garages hidden in every new area you unlock and they are usually easy to find. Just look for abnormal colored street lights and for little off-shoots on the mini map.

The visual rating in Need For Speed Underground 2 has been doubled from the original, with a ten star possible rating instead of a 5. You may ask how this is possible. Well, itís mostly because this game has about twice as many visual modifications as the original. With split hoods, spinning rims a.k.a. "spinners", hydraulics, and sweet doors that open upwards, thereís plenty of shiny stuff to modify your vehicle with. The detail is so in-depth that you can even customize your carís gauges and color your side-view mirrors. When you do get a high enough visual rating, you will be able to achieve magazine and DVD covers, some of which you will be able to photograph yourself.

It has also come to my attention that there is racing in this game. In fact, there are seven different kinds of races ranging from your classics like circuit and sprint, to the new races including Outrun, Street X, and U.R.L. Street X is an all-out racing battle on a small course. All the AI wants to do is win, but they would really like to screw up your car in the process. U.R.L., or Underground Racing League for those of you who aren't acronym savvy, is a multiple race circuit where the winner is based on a point system a la Mario Kart. My new favorite is Outrun, where you will get the chance to chase down normal street racers on the street, and then challenge them at will. The winner is whoever can take the lead and then get 1000 feet away from the other person. They all have each others phone numbers, which is fairly convenient. All the drivers work on the honor code I guess. I found the best way to win is to wait until youíre right on your opponentís bummer to start the race, and then as soon as you start, ram his back tire so he spins out. It makes the outrun ridiculously easy and hilarious at the same time. Plus, this is the only way to unlock a few special car modifications.

Another new feature to NFSU 2 is the sponsorship deals. After winning a few races and getting your visual rating high enough you will be approached by a few different car companies who want to sponsor you. They all have their own unique bonuses and demands. Usually they will give you a new car upon completion, which is nice but it takes a lot of money to stock a new car with all the necessary performance modifications. I tend to stay with my original car. When it does come down to time to decide what sponsor you want to go with, the differences arenít that noticeable. All the requirements and winnings are pretty much the same, just worded differently. When all is said and done, you can just choose your favorite company or whichever looks cooler.

multiplayer

My usual sentiment towards games is that all games should have multiplayer. Unless you have a big enough TV, NFSU 2 doesnít really work on a split screen level. It has all the same races as career more, except for outrun, which there is really no reason for leaving out. My best advice would be to skip the multiplayer and just trade off on career mode. If you and your partner canít decide on a car modification to get, play Rosh ambo. Just donít go second. You just donít get enough room to notice all your gauges and be on the lookout for traffic. Sorry, Multiplayer. We can still be friends, but youíre just not my cup of tea for this game.

overall

I genuinely had fun playing Need For Speed Underground 2, and for some reason, EA makes the only car racing games I like to play. I donít know what it is about them, but with the release of NFSU 2 and Burnout 3 this year, EA is definitely a racing force to be reckoned with. You shouldnít overlook this game when you are out buying your Half Life 2 and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. Go buy it and get ready for 40 hours of racing gameplay that will all take place in one night in NFSU 2. So I will leave you with this quote from the game itself. Yo, know what Iím saying Dawg!? That is how you kids spell that word now, right?

final score 8.7/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Morgan Stephenson
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"While I was on Percadin, I thought of a word that rhymes with Engine."


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