Need for Speed Undercover Review

Need for Speed Undercover is all about two things: racing and cop chases. Yes, there's a story in the game and it's told through live action cutscenes. And yes, you earn rep and cash, tune cars, and build a collection of fast, real-world cars. However, everything about the game is designed to keep you racing as much as possible. Whether or not that's a good thing depends a bit on how you like your street racing games...

As the game's title implies, you play as an undercover officer tasked with infiltrating a street racing gang that has branched out into smuggling. This story doesn't really have any impact on your as the player, nor does it require any interaction on your part. You just run a bunch of races, watch a cutscene about the investigation's progress and then run another bunch of races. You could insert a different set of cutscenes to change the story and there wouldn't be any impact on the gameplay.

The game takes place in a fictional open world city, but even though you're free to cruise the city's streets and highways there's no need to do so if you don't want to. You'll always see the name of the closest event listed on the screen, and if you press down on the D-pad you'll be instantly taken to the event. You can also pull up the city map screen to see all of the currently available events, select the one you're interested in running next, and again you'll be instantly teleported to the race event. It's possible to play the game without ever really driving around the city or taking any time between the races. You can continually jump from one race right into the next until you trigger the next cutscene. Even losing a race won't slow you down much. With a press of a button you can choose to rerun a race and you'll be instantly sent back to the start to run the race again. The only consequence to losing is a couple of extra minutes of your time, and you won't find yourself losing very often.

There are a variety of race events in the game. Of course you've got your "be the fastest car from Point A to Point B" type of races, but others have different goals such as putting a set distance between you and another car or holding the lead for a set amount of time. The most fun comes from the police chase events, though. Sometimes the goal is simply to evade the police; at other times it is to cause as much damage as possible to the police cars. The police provide more of a challenge than do your rival racers, probably because they can come at you from all directions. One odd thing about the police chases, through, is that they seem to end arbitrarily. The game will throw a number of police cruisers at you for a while, but if you can evade them it seems to lose interest and decide that the chase should just end. It's not like cops in close proximity disappear: new cops just stop showing up on the scene.

As in previous games in the series, you can spend some time in the garage tuning your cars by adding various parts. With a little work you can tune your car to match your driving style by focusing on attributes such as acceleration or handling. If that all seems like too much work to you, you'll love the game's new upgrade package feature. Just tell the game what you'd like to improve and it will install all of the appropriate parts for you with a single button press. This feature gives the game's tuning aspect the best of both worlds. You can tweak your car's performance on a part by part basis, or just upgrade things in one fell swoop and get right back into the racing.

Online play supports multiplayer racing, of course, but there's a lot more fun to be had with the online cops and robbers mode. In this mode, a 'robber' player must make a money pick-up and deliver the goods to another location in the city. The 'cop' player must prevent the robber from doing so by ramming the robber's car and taking it out. This mode is more wide-open and aggressive than simple point-to-point racing, and not surprisingly is a lot more fun as well.

Need for Speed Undercover is tailor-made for those who prefer quick race events. All of the race events in the game are relatively short and over quickly. If you lose an event, a single button press will instantly restart it. And there's no need to spend time driving around between events as you can instantly jump to the next one. If you just want to run a few quick high-speed, arcade-style races, you'll love it. On the other hand, if you prefer some challenge in your races and more to your racing games than simply hopping from one race into another, you'll probably quickly grow tired of the game.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 68%. Need for Speed Undercover is street racing for the short attention span crowd.


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