Also Known As: NFSU2, NFSU: 2
Genre: Racing
Platform(s): PC, X-Box, PS2, Gamecube
Allegiance: EA Games
Vintage: 2004
Rating: E
Intelligence Agency Report by: Dave K
After recovering from a terrible accident, you have flown out to the West Coast with the goal of regaining the street racing reputation you once had. Starting out from the bottom with a cheap stock vehicle, you have to now work your way up the ladder of the West Coast underground street racing scene. Better buckle up and brace yourself, it’s going to be a long night.

Weapons Expert Report by: Dave K 
Story/Premise
Gameplay
Impact
Visual
Audio
7.50
7.00
7.00
7.00
7.50
 
Overall 7.50
(not an average)
Version Reviewed: PC

This is perhaps the first time I have ever seen a continuous story in a racing series. However, that being said, the story is no better than anything previously seen in a fighter sequel such as Street Fighter 2 or Mortal Kombat 2. It can best be described as incredibly lame. Luckily, Need For Speed Underground 2 (NFSU2) is all about just that – a need for speed. EA realized that NFSU2 would be played more for it’s racing, and thankfully pushed the story into the background.

NFSU2 follows the typical standard for any racing game: win races, buy new cars, buy new parts for the cars, adjust the parts etc… Disappointingly, the selection of cars is fairly limited – most of the cars are Asian models with a few domestics and imports. The While a few customized SUV’s made their way into this game, the SUV selection is even more limited with only a Ford Explorer, Cadillac Escalade and a Hummer H2 being available. A large selection of vehicles to choose from would have made the game much more diverse and interesting. However, the customization capability of the vehicles is above just about anything seen before. You can adjust side panels, bumpers, mirror, paint jobs, engine turbos, doors, neons, windshields and of course hydraulics. Take a stock car and turn it into something completely unrecognizable from the original.

The racing itself is fairly standard and the controls simple enough to master. Heck, they were mastered back in the days of Cruisin’ USA. There is definitely a noticeable difference in handling between cars – my one irritant is how the SUV’s don’t flip when turning at high speeds like they’re supposed to. The physics engine definitely needs some work. It works fine on the vertical axis, but horizontal movement, such as following a crash, is not implemented very well – not enough spin outs or rolls. NFSU2 brings in various styles of racing however from the drift (slide your back end around) to the various street races (including the drag) and the Street-X, which is like a race through a parking garage.

Visually, NFSU2 is supposed to be eye-candy but I disagree. While the cars can be made to look absolutely amazing there is very little to say about the rest of the game. The “FMVs” are still-frame cartoons; the world is rather generic looking and filled with sponsor advertisements (which are why it has won many awards). NFSU2 is definitely a “do not touch” if you can’t stand corporate advertisement in videogames. The music of NFSU2 will get very repetitive very fast. There are not very many tracks and they just keep looping as you drive around. The voice acting for the game is pretty mediocre. It tells the story, gives out hints, and that’s about all. Frankly I’d prefer just reading the messages. Not that I have anything against Brooke Burke (she’s hot), but she can’t act (or voice act).

Overall, Need For Speed Underground 2 is a mediocre game. The likely reason that it became so popular is all the corporate sponsorships EA got. If you have a dire need to travel fast you might want to check it out, but otherwise, I wouldn’t waste your money. You wouldn’t be missing much.