Need for Speed: Underground
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, Game Boy Advance, PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Microsoft Windows. 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.
Why It Rocks
- 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.
- Tons of customizing options (at that time) for all drivable cars sponsored by real-life aftermarket manufactures such as body parts, performance, and vinyls. This also set the tone of the following NFS games.
- First attempt for the series to have a story. Not a brilliant one though, but just good enough to enjoy.
- Career length is reasonable.
- 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 Honda Civic Si (EM1).
- Every AI racers (whether they're in the story or not) in Career mode drive their specific cars, instead of RNG-generated cars. Their visual customizations even evolve as the story progresses, making them feel like actual characters.
- Brilliant night scenery of Olympic City. Despite not free-roamable, 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.
- Introduction of drag and drift races. Driving mechanics are altered in these modes to make them more enjoyable.
- Amazing sense of speed. Sometimes going at merely 200 mph (321 kph) feels like jumping into hyperspace.
- Very fitting licensed soundtrack including rap, rock, and electronics. There are even some preset cars designed by the theme of some artists.
- 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.
- 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 the game is rendered in 3D, which is very impressive for GBA.
- Al rubberbanding is disgusting and unpredictable even in easy mode, which is expected from Black Box NFS games.
- Because of this, some of the career mode races are really difficult, such as Kurt's Killer Ride and the infamous Enduro Street Circuit.
- Traffics tends to deliberately ruin your race by stopping exactly on your racing line.
- For the 2 reasons above, mistakes are often very punishing. One small crash can ruin the whole race.
- Car list contains tuners only. Fortunate this is improved in following games.
- Lazy engine sound design. A lot of cars use the exact same engine sound.
- 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.
- Rankings are pointless. Everyone except the player's position are largely altered whenever the plot needs it.
- Overuse of motion blur can make you feel sick. It is suggested to turn it off for more comfort and less bugs.
- 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.
Need for Speed: Underground received almost universal acclaim 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.