Pros: A large selection of cars to play, everything from Skylines to
Cons: Driving around looking for the next race, "invincible" cars.
Need for Speed Underground 2 is Electronic Art's take on the world of
street racing. At the beginning of the game you'll start out as a
newcomer into the scene. With each pass of the finish line, magazine
photo shoot and drag race you will be closer to ruling the streets.
Before you get all hyped up, you will have to select a car. You can
select from a Honda Civic, Mazda Miyata, Nissan 240SX, Ford Focus
and couple more cars initially. However, the list of cars included in
the game is pretty extensive. Playing through career mode will allow you
to unlock a Skyline, RX-7, Eclipse and even a H2 Hummer. That's right, Need
for Speed Underground 2 contains large, top heavy SUVs to race. Since SUVs aren't
designed as street racing vehicles they handle poorly. Learning how to
make tight turns with a Lincoln Navigator is a new challenge. If
you decide on racing an SUV you'll want to upgrade it with performance
parts quickly. In fact no matter what care you drive, you will want to
purchase new parts to mod it.
Need for Speed Underground 2 gives
players extensive modification options. You can tweak your engine,
adjust the suspension and add nitrous to your car. Upgrading your car's
performance will help you win races, but Need for Speed Underground is
all about upgrading your car's style. The original game allowed you to
add all sorts of visual mods to your car like vinyl decals, rims, and
custom hoods. All of the standard body mods are back with a bunch of new
ones. You can give your car hydraulics, which are pretty cool. Or you
can add a neon light underneath your car. There are also other
customizations that let you alter the interior of the car and add in a
sound system. Each car is rated on a visual scale of one to ten stars.
You'll want to get your visual meter up as quickly as possible so you
can get your car on the front cover of a magazine. When you reach the
photographer of Import Tuner or Street Car magazine you can take a photo
of your car. All your hard work can finally be shown off, in a virtual
To get all these upgrades you will need to play through the game's
career mode and work your way up the street racing ranks. Most parts
won't be available to purchase at the start of the game. Even if you
could purchase the best performance pack or a new spoiler, you will need
cold hard cash. Scattered around the city of Bayview are green money
icons that bestow you with some bank. The real money is in the racing
scene. Need for Speed Underground 2 has a couple of different racing
options. Of course the short circuit races, long sprint races and drag
races are in the game. Street X is an interesting idea, where you race
around a really small track. The tracks are made so small that you're
forced to be in contact with adjacent cars. Small tracks are present in
drifting too, but you won't be racing here. Each drift you make gets you
points and adds to your drift multiplier. To win drifting you will need
to have as many long drifts as possible to score the most points. Every
once in awhile you will be contacted by the Underground Racing League.
This group of street racers have connections to open up "real" race
tracks that you can take your car on. If you win one of the Underground
Races you could get sponsored and at the very least you'll unlock more
cars for purchase.
Winning races in the game isn't too hard with the new race breaker
system. The race breaker system takes a cue from EA's Burnout series
where driving with style gets you more NOS. NOS aka nitrous oxide can be
used to give your car a fast boost of speed. Since you will always have
the ability to refill your NOS level there is nothing that encourages
players to save it for the end. This means players can really abuse the
computer, which normally does save their speed boost for the last few
seconds. Need for Speed Underground has another system set up that
encourages players to leave the computer in the dust as quickly as
possible. Winning the race isn't everything, the game takes how much you
win the race by into account. The further the distance between you and
second place, the more points you get towards your reputation.
Need for Speed Underground 2 is really about the races, but between
you and the next race is the large city of Bayview. At first exploring
Bayview is a fun experience. EA designed the city with plenty of
straight track, perfect for outrun races. There are plenty of land marks
to see like the Golden Gate inspired bridge, the casino district and
even your favorite electronics store that has a giant yellow sign. Later
on the races are spread out far away from one another and when you
really just want to race driving half way around the track is a chore.
Besides extra cash, Electronic Arts hid some of the best shops to buy
parts at in Bayview. Finding these shops can be another problem because
they are illuminated by a dim neon light, that you can easily ignore
when trying to avoid traffic. A compromise between the large city and no
city at all would be to take the cell phone feature from SSX3 and let
players teleport to specific areas.
If you do get tired of building up your street racing career you can
choose to do a quick race. You can select from any of the cars you
unlocked and any tracks you've completed when for a simple race. Playing
with a friend is always another option. Need for Speed Underground 2
lets players do this in two ways. You can play with a friend at your
house using the two player mode. Or if you have the Xbox or PS2 version
of the game you can play online. If you have the Gamecube version,
you're out of luck for online play. Only get the Gamecube copy if that
is the only one you can pick up because playing online really extends
the life of this game.
Compared to the first Need for Speed Underground the graphics look
better. You have smooth car models and lots of them. EA added so many
visual mods, the sky is the limit. The city of Bayview is beautifully
created with plenty of scenery and the occasionally batch of rain
falling from the sky. One of the coolest eye candy features is the way
EA uses the sky to change the look of the world. You're always driving
at night, but it's not always pitch black. Sometimes it will be near
dawn and the sky will have a reddish tint or it could be a cloudy night
where the sky has a greenish hue. Some people won't like the unrealistic
crashes in the game and say that is a problem with the graphics. The
cars don't take any damage when they crash and the crashes don't look
nearly as good as Burnout 3's. Yet overall, Need for Speed Underground 2
looks pretty good overall.
The soundtrack in the game has a bunch of different artists and
genres. For hip hop aficionados you have "I do" from Chingy and Snoop
Dogg's Doors Remix "Riders on the Storm". EA also included rock into the
mix with "In My Head" by Queens of the Stone Age and "Scavenger"
performed by Killradio. On the electronic side of things there is
"Nothing But You" from Paul Van Dyk and "Rush Hour" by Christopher
Lawrence. It is nice to have a bunch of licensed artists in a
soundtrack. On the other hand this soundtrack is going to have one or
two tracks to please a gamer and a bunch of other's that they will hate.
On top of that, there are just too few tracks in the game because EA
took the licensed artist approach.
Need for Speed Underground 2 gives gamers everything they liked about
the first game with some new features. Although, Need for Speed
Underground 2 still plays more like an arcade racing game than Gran
Turismo 3. So, if you're looking for a "realistic" game Need for Speed
Underground 2 will disappoint. Even though the game may not be the most
realistic game, Need for Speed Underground 2 gives gamers plenty of ways
to get an idea about street racing culture.
We covered the US version of the game, which is in English.
It was released in the US November 15, 2004. For more information on
the US game
check out Electronic Arts' site.
If you don't mind searching the city for action, Need for Speed
Underground 2 gives you a chance to become the best street racer out