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Are you going to buy an Xbox One X This Holiday Season?

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Game Profile
EA Games
EA Black Box
GENRE: Racing
PLAYERS:   1-2
November 17, 2003
Need for Speed (2015)

Shift 2: Unleashed

Shift 2: Unleashed

Shift 2: Unleashed

Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit

More in this Series
 Written by Ryan Smotherman  on January 27, 2004

Full Review: The lighter side of illegal Street Racing!

Ever since the days of the 3DO (remember that one?) the Need for Speed series always featured racing with an edge. The games were famous for breaking some rules, because the idea of Need for Speed is to race as fast and as wild as you want across open roads -- while you out run your competition and the cops. Now, the Need for Speed franchise is taking a page from popular yet brainless race flicks like 2 Fast 2 Furious and Torque, because you're racing across the city streets at night to earn some respect. Is NFS: Underground enough to do the series proud, or will you need to play Project Gotham Racing instead?

NFS: Underground is a mixture of simulation and arcade action, so the game is easy to control. However there are still lots of things to do. To make your way to the top you'll have to work your way from the bottom first. The game will give a teaser test run with a 100,000 muscle car -- complete with NOS speed burst at the start of an Underground game, once you place first in that race. At first though, reality kicks in and you only have 10,000 bucks and a few cars to pick from. If you don't like the wheels the game gives you (believe me you won't) then you can easily mess around with some of the custom options. That way you can create your own perfect machine.

Sadly, like the selection of vehicles, the game really doesn't give you a lot up front. You have to unlock a lot of the cool stuff, so you may want to stay away until you play most of the Underground mode. Fortunately, the game lets you compete in all sorts of events like Drag races, going laps for technical Drift points, and many more. With all these race types, it's hard to get bored even though you're racing in the same city every time.

However, maybe NFS: Underground's greatest feature is the game's killer looks. Just imagine going so fast that the screen will actually blur while you hit a nitro boost!! The camera may even shift away to a better angle during a big crash. Sure, the overall night-time theme really doesn't change much and it can be hard to see the road sometimes, but Underground still looks incredible. Since this is an EA game there are some huge bands doing the background tracks, including Rob Zombie and Crystal Method. Some of the tracks work well, while other songs are a little too slow to be in an illegal street racing game like this.

Bottom Line
The game would have been even better if there were more diverse tracks and more unlocked features near the beginning, because starting out a Need For Speed game with a lame 20,000 and under car like a Mitsubishi Lancer or a Volkswagen GOLF GTI just isn't right! First impressions are important you know. It would have been awesome if EA took the Xbox edition of NFS more seriously as well. Although this game is a lot closer to its Playstation2 counterpart, unlike the NFS Hot Pursuit 2 game on Xbox (it was actually faster on the PS2), the game doesn't even have any online support like the Playstation2 version has. EA has stated the reason they won't use the Xbox Live online service is because they won't make any additional money from it. I can see why EA would do this from a business standpoint but as a gamer, I feel ripped off! Despite some negatives, Need For Speed Underground not only gives you a list of cool racing options to keep the racing fresh, but the game also lets you earn fast cash, fast women, and even faster cars. Now who doesn't love that?

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