“Do You Remember” is a segment of where we remind you guys of classic games you may have forgotten, and games we wish could either have a remake, be brought back to life with a HD upgrade, or be given a sequel, or quite possibly something else. At the end of the article, I will tell you guys what I believe should be done with the game.
Developed by EA Blackbox (who believe it or not developed Need for Speed: The Run and the “Skate” games), this was the best Need for Speed on the last generation of consoles… unless you count Most Wanted, but I never played that. Some critics were a little bit harsh with the game, but others knew this was a true Need for Speed game. This is the sequel to the less popular “Need for Speed: Underground” and whilst I liked it, the sequel bettered it by a lot.
Set in the city of Bayview, your character is invited to join a racing crew. This is where your Underground journey begins… almost. The player is soon ambushed by a mysterious group, where you assume your character becomes hospitalized by. Six months later and you’re finally able to join that crew. You start off with a Nissan 350Z which you’ll soon get rid of and swap for a car of your choice. The story goes on with you aiming to be the best racer in Bayview, and whilst doing that, you’ll hopefully get to beat the very person who sabotaged your ride. The story is told through cut scenes using a mixture of gameplay and a comic book art style, which actually make these cut scenes enjoyable to watch.
The game has what you might expect in most racers. Set in an open world that you can freely explore (that you have unlocked that is), you’ll find races and missions all around the place, ranging from drift missions, to drag racing, to pure and simple circuit racing (there are more modes than that). Modes like drift required you to do real awesome breaks around tight corners to rack up as high of a score as possible. Drag involved you trying to beat your opponents whilst driving in a straight line whilst also keeping an eye on your speed… I think. I never really understood the rules of drag racing.
Just exploring the map and picking up information and bank rewards which will credit you with money that will help when customizing your cars. When racing, the game would capture your time speed in real time, so you’d always know how far from your opponents were down to the millisecond which I found pretty cool. Racing added a lot of danger because you would usually race with regular cars also on the track driving casually along, so you had to look out for them; this was Underground racing remember.
For a 2004 racing game, the graphics could have been better; they seemed to focus more on the cars than the actual environment. The graphics weren’t off-putting, but again they could have been twice as better.
The entire game is set at night, so when you added things like lights to your car, they really made you feel proud to be driving “that car”. Speaking of customizations, there’s a lot you can add to make your car’s performance exceed expectations, and to make your car actually look drivable (you don’t want to go around in an ugly car right?). To customize, you had to go to the shop that was specific to what you wanted, so you couldn’t really buy everything all in one shop. You had a body shop (guess what you could buy there), a performance shop, a graphics shop where you could add colour and decoration to your car and a few others shops too. When in shops for things like “megalow parts” you could upgrade your engine, tyres, suspension, ECU, transmission, and even nitro. You don’t actually have to buy nitro from shops, but to generate your nitro, you have to drift around the environment, which whilst unrealistic made drifting a lot of fun. When buying products, you could choose the brand you wanted, which for some strange reason people found quite pointless, which whilst it is, I suppose it added sponsors to the game.
This game consisted of hours of fun, and though there are now better open world racers, back in 2004, games like this were the thing. This game went on to sell 4 million copies worldwide (which considering games like Need for Speed: The Run can barely reach 1 million means it’s quite an achievement) and for all we know, it’s probably still selling… though in very small numbers. I think every Underground fan would love a sequel, but I think a HD collection should come first too.
Need for Speed: Underground 2 is available on the original Xbox, PS2, Gamecube, Gameboy Advance, Nintendo DS and PC.
Next Week: The game with the expansion packs… that’s right. We go back to remember “The Sims”. The original one that is.