Need For Speed Undercover is the latest title in what has become another annual franchise for Electronic Arts. You are immediately thrust in to the action when you first start the game and it is all about earning respect. You need to infiltrate a gang and the only way you can do that is by proving that you have what it takes. The game starts with you initially having very few options. You have to do different types of races to prove your worth as a driver. As you win more and more races your wheelman skill will go up and you will start to get noticed. Eventually you will catch the attention of the gang you want to infiltrate and you will get to race them for pink slips. Win that race and they will start paying attention to all of your other exploits. Need for Speed Undercover is based on this basic premise. The storyline and the cinematics add some flair to the title as well as help to give you some back story and help to keep you up to date with what is going on. As you progress and your wheelman skill goes up the missions will start getting harder and more dangerous. The A.I. starts to become a little more vicious and your driving skills start getting put to the test. The handling of the cars seemed to work really well, however, it is not very realistic. If you are looking for a realistic racer then this isn’t the game for you.
This Need For Speed title is set in an open world setting, however, you don’t necessarily need to use it if you don’t want to. At any time you can bring up your map and simply pick the event you want to do and you will be instantly warped to that location. If you happen to be nearby that location you could also just hit down on the d-pad and you will be immediately taken there as well. You can’t enter any of these events by driving to the location, unlike other EA titles such as Burnout Paradise. Even if you drive to the specific location you still have to pick the event from the map. Depending on your personal preference this is either a really good addition or it shatters the immersive experience since you simply can’t drive to the location to launch the event. If you have played Most Wanted you will get a basic feel for some of the features in this game as well. You, of course, have the cops chasing you all over the city and you have those specific destructible spots where you can drive through it and it will take out the cops behind you. You will battle the cops in a variety of ways from simply escaping to racking up a huge bill by causing as much destruction as you can.
The live action cut scenes were promoted quite a bit leading up to this title’s launch and I was intrigued to see how those would pan out. Unfortunately they are hit and miss. Some of the cut scenes do a pretty good job of establishing the part of the story you are on. Other cut scenes are only a couple of seconds long and really aren’t worth the couple seconds of loading time that you had to sit through. Racing online can be fun, however, the online racing is extremely bare bones. There are a couple of different modes that you can do in addition to a cops and robbers mode. In this mode you can have up to eight people playing with four being the cops and four being the crooks. The crooks have to find the money and deliver it to the safe house while the cops have to prevent them from doing that. It is a fun mode to play, however, it might get old quickly since there really isn’t anything else to do. There also seemed to be graphical glitches at times, including a police cruiser going through the barricade like it wasn’t there and chasing me during a race. The frame rate also seemed to suffer a bit from time to time. It isn’t a huge issue and I experienced it the most during transitions but it can be annoying.
Need For Speed Undercover has a tremendous premise, however, it feels unfinished in certain areas. It would have been a wise move on EA’s part to release this title in the early part of 2009 and take the extra time to give this game an extra coat of polish, not to mention add some more modes for people to play over Xbox Live. I definitely think they took a step in the right direction, they just need to finish what they started. If you are a casual gamer and you are just looking to have fun, then you will probably enjoy this game. The cars handle well, are fairly easy to control and you can upgrade them fairly easily. The overall game seems to feel a little on the easy side at times too which the casual segment should enjoy. If you are a hardcore racing fan be sure to rent this game first to see if you like it. If you do then by all means pick it up. Hopefully EA will continue to support this title, much like they have done with Burnout Paradise. If they issue patches and deliver new content, this could definitely be a fun racer to experience.
Originally posted on Totally Gaming Network