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NEED FOR SPEED Underground 2 - 2021 perspective

Is Need For Speed Underground 2 the greatest street racing game of all time? If you listen to some people on Facebook you may be led to believe so, in this article I am to do a fair review on NFSU2, comparing it to later NFS titles and some more modern street racing series. 

I was in a bit of a rare situation growing up through the early 2000's, I admittedly never played much of Underground 2 as a child, me and my wee brother played a lot of Underground 1 though, putting me into a bit of a fortunate situation whilst playing this game as I could go in with a blank mindset. 

The main thing to remember whilst playing this game is that it was initially released in November 2004, with this in mind I fired into it.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by how well Underground 2 performs for a game that came out in the early 00's, to be honest it doesn't feel too clunky, the handling of the cars is pretty good for an arcade game of the time, dare I say even better than most modern Need For Speed games. 

Graphically the game looks very good for it's time the only issue I came across was the fact the game doesn't allow wide-screen unless you mod the game, this didn't bother me too much but it's worth mentioning. 

The mission structure in the game actually plays really well, with 4 different type of racing included, drag, drift, street & circuit, I found the racing in the game pretty difficult. If you spin out or crash into anything this is a game that really punishes the player for making a mistake, it is pretty difficult to get back into first place once you're behind. 

I was surprised by the AI's in the game, if you crash into them they'll actually try and run you off the road, so a bit of advice if you do play the game, try and avoid conflict with the other racers. 

Another part of the game that helped put it down as one of the best street racing games ever is how the cars perform. The handling of the cars it's pretty good, definitely far advanced for the time, I'd even go as far as to say the handling in Underground 2 is better than most modern NFS games, and I'm not saying the handling is in any way realistic as it's far from it, but the cars feel smooth and the camera angles are great. 

My only criticism for the play-ability of the cars in the game would be the gear shifts, the gear changes in the game are tragically slow and it seems to make very little difference what upgrades you do to the car, or if you're playing in manual mode, they're still slower than a 1.5 diesel Citroen Saxo.

How big a part of the game is modifying your ride?

The modification side of the game is huge, with everything from sound system builds to nitrous oxide. This is one of the aspects of the game that even today holds up very well. There's a massive selection of mad bodykits, underglow, tints, interior colours, lighting & of course performance upgrades, so you can make your car look like it would've been front cover of Max Power mag in 2005. 

The more mods you do the higher rated your car is in the game, meaning you'll be offered more magazine and DVD cover shoots. You can also sign up with sponsors in the game, this will help boost your takings when you win a race or your car has a magazine/DVD feature. Honestly the level of detail the Need For Speed team went to with this feature is amazing, the fact they made magazine and DVD features as well as sponsors an instrumental part of the story of the game is madness. 

It's funny actually, Underground 2 is one of the few games I can sit and scroll through mods 'N upgrades for hours on end, seeing how I can change the cars to make them totally unique, but with more modern titles like Forza Horizon I'm bored within minutes, with the more modern games I really just jump in max out the performance mods and back out. 

I think Underground 2 represents the Max Power era of the car scene well, you can see where a lot of their influences have came from with it, they did their research whilst making this game and it really does show.

Other comparisons?

As I said at the start of this article, I never actually played much of Need For Speed Underground 2 when I was growing up, however I did play plenty of other racing games, a handful of which being other NFS titles. 


I played a lot of Need For Speed Carbon which came out 2 years after Underground 2, Carbon featured most of the elements of Underground 2 with a few extras, the addition of police chases is Carbon was a massive deal as this is something I feel Underground 2 is lacking in, the gameplay and the races in Underground 2 are still very good though.


Another Need For Speed title I played that I'm going to mention is Need For Speed ProStreet. Now for anyone who has played ProStreet they'll know both titles are quite different from each other. ProStreet is the idea of taking modified street cars and racing them in a set environment (so not racing in an open world, set tracks etc) I think this game was the start of the downfall for Need For Speed. Now I'm not saying ProStreet is a bad game, in actual fact it's far from it. However we sadly lost a lot of the features Underground 2 introduced to us and even sader than that I feel it's been a downward spiral for NFS titles since. 

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