Need For Speed Underground 2 ReviewCain Dornan
EA Games Need For Speed series has certainly been around for quite some time, appropriately adapting to the latest vehicle craze as we shifted from the exotic Ferraris and Porsches through to the more revered and mysterious world of underground car tuning that has caught the series attention over the recent generation of titles. After experiencing considerable success on the home consoles, EA has unsurprisingly opted to send the high-octane, nitrous-filled racer onto Nintendos dual-screened handheld system.
Need For Speed: Underground 2 pits players into the world of seedy underground car tuning; modifying once small vehicles into roaring beasts to be flogged around tight suburban streets in dangerous illegal street racing. While you dont have to worry about the possibility of police officers hunting you down, the game does pit its fair share of other civilian motorists and tight bends that combine to form a somewhat exhilarating experienced, although also subdued by the clunky controls of the DS limiting control pad. As a result, the central problem of the game is its controls; while control sticks allow for accurate turning, the DS digital pad often prevents the user from accurately guiding the speeding vehicle through tricky maneuvers, ultimately resulting in frustratation as you repeatedly attempt to complete a single annoying level.
Upon startup, the game allows you to choose from two different vehicles: the Nissan 240SX and the Volkswagon Golf GTI. From here, heading into the games career mode, known as the Underground mode, will reveal a range of different game types. There is circuit, which involves racing around a set track with multiple laps.
Drag, on the other hand, is a simple strait drag down a length of road, requiring you to change gears manually using the DS shoulder buttons, evading traffic and using nitrous at the right intervals to reach the finish line first.
Own the Zone, which is possibly the most unique racing mode available, involves the course being split up into different sections, known as zones. While competing against one other competitor, the aim is to score the fastest time in each zone to gain ownership of the zone. Whoever owns the most zones upon completion of the race wins.
Lap Knockout is essentially similar to Circuit, involving racing around a track with a set number of laps. The difference is, however, is that the person in last place at the end of a lap is instantly kicked out of the race, with the final lap involving two vehicles competing against each other.
Time Trial is one of the less interesting modes, simply involving racing around the track and completing it within the specified time. Failing to do so ultimately results in losing the race.
In addition to the Underground mode, there is also the Race Now option, which allows you to immediately jump into a random race or customize the race conditions, such as the number of laps, number of competitors and the amount of traffic on the road. All of the modes found in the Underground mode are also available in the Race Now option, in addition to the extra Free Run ability, allowing you to venture through the tracks at your own pace.
Escaping from the usual competition race modes, Need For Speed: Underground 2 for the Nintendo DS also includes the Bonus Event mode, which is a collection of interesting mini-games that utilize the DS touch screen. These games involve activities such as guiding an unpredictable ball through a dangerous maze. Touching either the top of bottom sections of the maze results in damage to the engine, therefore, it is essential to remain in the safe zone, which can prove to be challenging at times. Another example is the Dyno Run mini game, which requires you to tap the appropriate buttons on the touch screen as they travel pass a line on the top screen. While this mini game may sound easy, it can provide a surprising challenge for those with slow reflexes.
The collection of vehicles featured in Underground 2 includes:
Volkswagon Golf GTI
Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX
Subaru Imprezza WRX Sti
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII
And an assortment of pre-modified vehicles created by the EA Games development team.
While far from outstanding, Underground 2s visuals are satisfactory, offering reasonable detail on vehicles and environments. It is clearly evident that EA Games has not pushed the DS graphical capabilities to the limit, however, what is present does not subtract from the gameplay in any way.
A small collection of music is also on offer, which generally blends into the gameplay nicely. Sound effects are also evident, providing a pleasing array of roaring engines, blow-off valves and screeching tires. The only aspect of the sound department that is disappointing is the crash sound effects. They are far from realistic, and often sound rather poor, with little variation between the sounds of a slight or large crash.
While a number of niggling problems are evident, with the most annoying being the controls, Need For Speed: Underground 2 for the DS is a satisfactory title that provides suitable gameplay for racing car fans. While non-fans of the genre will, naturally, have little interest in the title, racing fans will likely enjoy this portable racing title.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.