We take a ride through the race modes in EA's upcoming sequel to Need for Speed Underground.
Stuck in Traffic
While many of the race modes sound familiar, the mechanics have undergone some refinement, and for the better. The basic handling, while obviously bearing quite a bit in common with the original game, has been tweaked and complements the much more organic layout of the tracks. In fact, the core handling is as responsive as ever, but some adjustments to the physics to account for the inclusion of new weather effects have added a wrinkle to the experience that will keep you on your toes. To add to the challenge, many of the races will now include more traffic. Another key element to the gameplay is the pacing of the races, which has been changed up some. The more flexible nitrous rules let you trigger bursts of speed much more often, as you'll earn it by raking up style points. Due to the pacing, you may find yourself hitting the wall and getting stuck in some places, but practice makes perfect, especially with this game.
The graphics in the Xbox version of the game are coming together to offer an impressive virtual environment for you to explore. The game's new neighborhood structure offers several distinctly different environments that are enhanced by a robust new lighting system and weather effects. The neighborhoods are massive and offer very different geography that's more than just the expected cosmetic differences, such as buildings and roadside landmarks. The neighborhoods also contain varied road layouts, including undulating roads and a myriad of twists and turns that will ensure that you won't be bored. The vehicles in the game stand tall as the stars, and they feature a high level of detail complemented by a broad range of customizable elements to let you create a car that suits your unique tastes.
The audio in the game sounds like it has come a long way, offering a good assortment of effects that go well with a compilation of EA Trax-licensed tunes. In addition, you'll hear a good chunk of voice in the game, much like last year. Although, from what we've heard, it appears that the voice acting is less awkward than last year's game. We're hoping this holds true when we go through the rest of the game, especially in the career mode, which has a liberal use of audio during its cinematic sequences.
Based on the near-final version of the game we played, Need for Speed Underground 2 is shaping up to be a worthy follow-up to last year's game. Rather than offer a cookie cutter sequel of its predecessor, Need for Speed Undergound 2 is laying out a richer experience that seems much more satisfying. If you dug the original game but were left wanting more, Need for Speed Underground 2 should be just what the doctor ordered. Improved graphics and robust gameplay make for a full-bodied experience that's worth your time. Need for Speed Underground 2 is currently slated to ship this fall for the GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PC this fall. A Game Boy Advance version will also hit the streets at the same time. Look for more on the game soon.
- Release Date: Nov 9, 2004 (US)
- Release Date: May 10, 2005 (US)
- Release Date: Jul 15, 2005 (US)
- Release Date: Nov 15, 2004 (US)