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PC | Nintendo

Need For Greed: Grab For Cash Ruins Game

By Jay Williams

Need For Speed: Undercover

Need For Speed: Undercover

It looks good, but NFS: Undercover
is a lacking game in most respects

Need For Speed: Undercover

Cops chase car, car handles like a dog, end of story

Need For Speed: Undercover

This is the real reason people by Need For Speed

Need For Speed: Undercover

Need For Speed: Undercover

The Porsche 911 Turbo smokes 'em up

Need For Speed: Undercover

The Nissan GT-R is a king amongst men

Contributing writer for Web Wombat by day, boy racer by night.

My passion for fast cars isn't restrained to just racing them on the Xbox 360. In fact I "keep it real" by taking it to the streets.

That's probably why the cops are asking my mum about my whereabouts...

You know I once knew a guy who I'd take to the streets with on a regular bases, only to find out he was an undercover cop. 

Suffice to say I'm now doing 40,000 hours of community service bathing the elderly in kerosene baths (to help with the bed sores).

It's kind of a harsh penalty for driving at speeds of up to 230km/h, but the fact that I resisted arrest and beat a cop down with a cricket bat (which I like to call 'The Don') that was concealed in my pants may have been the contributing factor in my subsequent sentencing.

Which comes to my own personal 'need for speed'. 

I'm a sucker for fast cars and if you don't believe me read for yourself how I was co-driver in a brand-spanking new Ford XR5 Turbo for at-the-limit sprint through the mountains.

Okay, there's a lot of hype around this game and being a car nut I was absorbed by the drama created by the EA marketing machine.

Like most people, I was duped.

It's not all bad, but what was once a very cool franchise is now missing its engine - an empty shell with no innards.

To begin the game looks like a movie. It's really cool how the intro starts with a helicopter camera that flies across the water and then reaches a city, where it zooms in on a highway car pursuit.

Next thing you know the camera zooms in to the brand-new red Nissan 370Z which is being chased by the cops, and there's a super-smooth transition so that next thing you know, you're driving the runaway car!

Eventually the police manage to subdue you and force you to work undercover for them. And there you have it, one very cool intro.

At the start, the game welcomes you to Tri-City, consisting of four boroughs called Palm Harbor, Port Cresent, Gold Coast Mountains, and Sunset Hills - this is where the action begins.

There's a number of missions to partake in, but there's no particular order you have to do them in. This gives the game an open-world feel.

You can drive to races, circuits, highway battles and so forth but you can only begin them by selecting them from a menu which is pretty dumb. You bring up the GPS navigation system and pretty much warp there, which sort of defeats the purpose of the drive-anywhere open world.

Need for Speed: Undercover shines the most by giving the gamer the illusion of speed. Hats off to developers Black Box for that - the graphics are gorgeous (except on the PS3 version, where the slowdown is atrocious, so get the Xbox 360 version if you want a decent frame rate).

But other than the pretty pictures, there isn't much going for the newest installment of the popular street racing series. 

I mean yeah, sure, it looks good, it's well polished, there's fancy actors (and smoking hot babes) in the slick-looking cut scenes, but the game play is a let down.

To be concise, Midnight Club L.A. is a much better game to play.

Starting out at the beginning you have a few cars to choose from; I chose the 1999 Nissan Silvia s15. 

Racing a rear wheel turbocharged car through corners at up to 200km/h without any drift is pretty crazy and that's what gives me the sh!ts. Well, there's actually lots of things that don't feel right about this game, but in a broad sense it's way too arcadey for my liking.

Every car handles like it's on tracks and when you plough into other cars and walls there is damage but it doesn't seem to anything to the handling of your ride.

I would have thought by the 12th installment of this series they would have tried something new...

Even the streets feel like a ghost town, and the city seems to lack inhabitance and it just doesn't feel alive.

However there are some redeeming aspects to NFS: Undercover.

One of these is the acoustics. The engine sounds are better than those in Midnight Club L.A. (try the quad turbo Bugatti Veyron!).

There's also an okay online experience where you can play games like cops and robbers, where you 

There seven different challenge modes to choose from such as circuit, sprint and checkpoint which we have seen in previous games, along with cop challenges (also seen in Most Wanted) such as cost to state and escape. 

These are all pretty boring modes, but the two new challenges to the game have been the standouts for me:

Jobs - these challenges or missions typically require the player to:

  • Return a stolen car to a garage without filling the damage meter

  • Race other main character

  • Protect drivers from other cars attempting to disable them

Highway Battle - players race against one another along a stretch of highway with varying traffic and police activity and this mode, I must say, is the only reason I kept playing this dull game beyond the first couple of hours.

Highway Battle delivers a great sense of speed and panic which also reminded me of Japanese cult classics as Wangan Midnight and Shutokou Battle.

Also making another appearance in the latest reincarnation of the NFS franchise are the cops. 

Seeing that you are technically a cop, the police will try and pull you over and ruin your day and as usual will call in helicopters and the use the P.I.T. maneuovre.

But pay the fine, and you're on your way.

On the customisation side of things, nothing really new to report here. If you've played NFS Carbon or ProStreet, you'll know what to expect.

The customisation of cars is similar to that of Need for Speed: ProStreet only the graphics are slightly better and the new color palette and the "matte" paint has been improved.

Tweaking the cars does not affect the way they handle however, which is another unrealistic quality of the game that probably removed to appease the casual gamers.

This is a well-polished good-looking game with high production values, but the core of the game seems to be forgotten. 

The gameplay is average, with loose physics and cars that handle poorly.

There's not enough in-game detail or depth to the way the cars feel, and there's not much we haven't seen before. 

EA probably thought they could steer such a shining ship to glory, but at this stage I must say that Midnight Club L.A. holds the title of "tuner racer" of the year.

It seems as though Black Box was asked to make a real 'movie' style videogame, but in the end it just ended up being boring.

In three words, this game is rubbish. Four words... Whatever.

Anyways, back to the grind stone for me. 

One thousand nine hundred and ninety nine hours down and only 38,001 hours of kerosene sponge baths to go until I'm causing havoc in a street near you!

I guess some people never learn in accordance with the prophecy...

Game: Need for Speed: Undercover
System: Xbox 360
: 1-multi
Online: Yes
DeveloperBlack Box
Electronic Arts (EA)

Rating: 55%

(Ratings Key/Explanation)


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