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Need for Speed: Underground

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Need for Speed: Underground
176379-need-for-speed-underground-playstation-2-front-cover.jpg
"Darrrrrrrrrum dum dum, da da dum da dum dum~" ("Get Low" by Lil Jon & The Eastside Boyz)
Genre(s): Racing
Platform(s): Microsoft Windows
PlayStation 2
Xbox
Nintendo GameCube
Game Boy Advance
Arcade
Release: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox & Nintendo GameCube
NA: November 17, 2003
EU: November 21, 2003
EU: November 28, 2003 (PC)
AU: November 2003
Game Boy Advance
NA: December 17, 2003
EU: January 16, 2004
Arcade
JP: December 26, 2006
Developer(s): EA Black Box
Pocketeers (GBA)
Global VR (Arcade)
Publisher(s): Electronic Arts
Konami (Arcade)
Country: Canada
Series: Need for Speed
Predecessor: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2
Successor: Need for Speed: Underground 2


Need for Speed: Underground is the seventh installment in the Need for Speed series, developed by EA Black Box and published by Electronic Arts. The game was released in November 2003 for the Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Microsoft Windows, in December 2003/January 2004 for the Game Boy Advance, and in December 2006 for arcades. It is the first reboot of the series, veering away from the racing of supercars while avoiding police in favor of the tuner car culture and emphasis on car customization. It was also the first game in the franchise to have a career mode with a storyline, told through pre-rendered cutscenes.

Why You Should Go Underground

  1. This game rode on the success of the first Fast & Furious movie and changed the whole franchise forever. From this game on the major theme of NFS games became street racing, instead of grand touring in supercars.
  2. Tons of customization options (at that time) for all drivable cars sponsored by real-life aftermarket manufacturers such as body parts, performance parts, and vinyls. This also set the tone of the following NFS games.
  3. First attempt for the series to have a story. Not a brilliant one though, but just good enough to enjoy.
  4. Career length is reasonable.
  5. Creation of some very iconic NFS classic cars such as Eddie's Nissan Skyline GT-R (R34), Melissa's Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX (appears in the intro), and Samantha's (later TJ's) Honda Civic Si (EM1).
  6. All of the NPC racers (whether they're in the story or not) in Career mode drive their own cars, instead of RNG-generated cars. Their visual customizations even evolve as the story progresses, making them feel like actual characters.
  7. Brilliant night scenery of Olympic City. Despite not having free-roam, it still is a well designed city including a city center, an industrial district, and even a prison. There are also 2 broken bridges for you to jump over, making it even more exciting.
    • Fortunately for PC version, a free roam mod is available.
  8. Introduction of drag and drift races. Driving mechanics are altered in these modes to make them more enjoyable.
  9. Amazing sense of speed. Sometimes going at merely 200 mph (321 km/h) feels like jumping into hyperspace.
  10. Very fitting licensed soundtrack including rap, rock, and electronics. There are even some preset cars designed by the theme of some artists.
  11. This game also holds the license of real-life tuner magazines. You will be featured on their covers if you do well in Career mode.
  12. Excellent graphics, especially the PC and the Xbox version.
  13. While the GBA version did not look great with its lower resolution and busy visuals, it is fun and playable which was great for a GBA game. In fact that the game is rendered in 3D, which is very impressive for the GBA.
  14. "Ouch! That is seriously weak, dude!"

Bad Qualities

  1. AI rubber-banding is disgusting and unpredictable even in easy mode, which is expected from Black Box NFS games. What's insulting is that the game keeps track of restarts done by the player!
    • Because of this, some of the career mode races are really difficult, such as Kurt's Killer Ride and the infamous Enduro Street Circuit, unless you enter them with a bone stock car. Maybe the developers tried to show that "not all races can be won with the best parts"?
  2. The traffic tends to deliberately ruin your race by stopping exactly on your racing line, especially in a drag race.
    • For the 2 reasons above, mistakes are often very punishing. One small crash can ruin the whole race.
  3. Car list contains tuners only. Fortunately this is improved in following games.
  4. Lazy engine sound design. A lot of cars use the exact same engine sound.
  5. A lot of features in EA Canada era such as interior view, horns, and cops are removed. Damage model is also reduced to almost nothing. This might have something to do with some car manufacturers not wanting their cars being damaged or involving in police chases.
  6. Rankings are pointless in every version besides the GBA version. Everyone except the player's position are largely altered whenever the plot needs it. Even in the GBA version, it can only take a few in-game days for you to be at the top of the rankings.
  7. Overuse of motion blur can make you feel sick. It is suggested to turn it off for more comfort and less bugs. Unfortunately you cannot turn this off in the console versions. Though the motion blur on the console versions isn't too bad since it was significantly toned down from the beta versions, it is a lot worse on PC.
  8. You cannot have more than one unique parts from one category in one save game without modding. To collect them all you have to beat the game at least 10 times!
    • Fortunately, the following game fixed this issue. Everything will be unlocked once you complete the Career mode of Underground 2.
  9. The PC version lacks some effects that the console versions have.
  10. The ending makes no sense: You win the last race, and then a woman (revealed to be Melissa) walks up to you and Samantha says "Is that your fantasy?" which was her first line after she snapped you out of your daydream at the beginning of Underground Mode.
  11. In Underground Mode, you can only have one car, even a starter car, for the entirety of the career. There is no way to own more than one car without trading another one in, which makes it all the more senseless if you're a car collector and in need of more storage for your cars.
  12. The city itself is incredibly linear, meaning it can't be fully explored, even on Free Run. Thankfully, the sequel includes a fully-explorable map to drive around.

Reception

Need for Speed: Underground received positive reviews from both critics and gamers, and is considered to be one of the best games in the series.

The game was also a huge success for EA, selling over 15 million copies worldwide.

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