NFS: Underground 2 – any fan of racing games remembers this game. If they don’t, they are too young for you bro. This game was one of the most iconic NFS games and arguably one of the most iconic racing games of all time. This game was simply beautiful, especially for its time. It set the standard for all racing games to come and, not only set, but determined what the basic foundations of every racing game will be. Let’s break it down and see the beauty unfold.
Blue Ball Score: 23 out of 25 balls
As an upfront disclaimer, I played NFS Underground 2 on the PS2. That being said, why do I need to even review this? The controls were easy to learn and simple. Unlike modern-day racing games with fancy abilities (like Shockwave, EMP’s, etc.), all you had in Underground 2 was: Your car and your skills. This was a true test of your racing skills.
Feature set? For the time, it was awesome. You had a few different types of races. One that I personally loved was the straight-stretch stick shifting. I remember seeing in the movies badasses with muscle cars that were using stick shifts so I felt like a badass when I did this in Underground 2. But, the different game modes helped to keep things spicy, unlike a married man’s sex life.
Did it feel realistic? Why, by George, it sure did! Keep in mind we are in 2004, so you aren’t going to get the HD or 4K experience you do now, but it was certainly realistic for its time. The drifting, acceleration, turning, mechanics, it all just felt real. Too real… I got lost in the game for months on end…
Customizations were brilliant. Not too much, but enough to transform your ride into one for the books. You could make any car truly unique, without feeling overwhelmed. NFS Underground 2 set the stage for customizations to racing games. Enough said.
Nobody can forget the cut scenes in Underground 2. The comic book style of cut scenes combined with the regular style made for an interesting experience. I actually enjoyed this because it kept things interesting and, believe it or not, conveyed more information in a smaller amount of time. Anyway, the point is that it was unique and different and that is something we could use a little more of.
An extremely important aspect of racing “campaigns” is the upgrading system. You need to be able to upgrade your ride, customize your whip as well as your nae-nae, and even purchase new rides. NFS Underground 2 did just that. You could purchase a variety of vehicles, including: Sporty cars (in general), Escalades, Hummers, and even a few older cars (Older Hondas and Mazdas). For racing purposes, most of us had a sporty Miata (we all know you did). But, it was nice to have a souped-up Hummer and roll around like my boy 50 Cent.
Variety of races? Absolutely. As mentioned previously, you could do the straight stretch shifts, drifts, or regular old races. There was something new to be done around every corner. The city itself was mapped out very well. There were “secret” or “hidden” roads, straight stretches, curvy and winding roads, highways, and much more. A variety of scenery forced you to adapt and learn how to race across all types of terrains.
But, that being said, I did spend quite a lot of time with the infamous split screen. The split screen is going out of style these days and it is truly sad… the youngsters will never know what it is like to go to a friend’s house and talk trash to his face… Anyway, moving on with the review…
The split screen races proved to be riveting. Having a friend over and jocking for the lead at the end of the race was enough to make the closest of friends hate each other. “You cheated!” “Your mom cheated!” “Oh yea?! Well my dad slept with your mom!” “Wait…what?”
Sorry, I slipped into a childhood memory. The split screen did not have any noticeable framerate loss or lag or anything like that. It was a smooth, fun, mature, collected, and exciting split screen experience. Feel free to let us know how the actual online experience was in the comments below. 5/5 balls.
Let’s start off with graphics. For the time, the graphics were extremely good overall. The tires smoked when you drifted and the cars were detailed and appeared realistic (for the year 2004). The only complaint I have here is the landscape. The graphics for the landscape wasn’t very realistic. Yes, I know it’s 2004, but I still expected a bit more here. When you were racing down the strip or through a forest, the graphics became increasingly worse. Before I get called a f$%@#^& idiot, I know the graphics will get a bit worse as you get faster (for obvious reasons), but it still wasn’t up to my standards.
The sound/audio? This makes the game. 4 words – Riders on the Storm. We all know this song and it was everyone’s favorite. If it wasn’t your favorite, then you are not a true American. Anyway, the soundtrack as a whole was remarkably sexy. There was a variety between rap, rock, metal, and everything in between. I felt like a real G-Thang listening to some of these tracks as I am racing through the city in my unbeatable Miata. Thug Lyfe… The sound effects themselves were also on point. Cars crashing, tires squalling, engines accelerating to maximum speeds, nitrous expelling out to push your car as hard as it will go, and so much more. This was nothing short of extraordinary for a 2004 game and even now it is still an orgasmic experience.
Nothing would suit my fancy more than to give this game a perfect 5, but unfortunately the minor graphics and graphical glitches leads this to get a 4/5 balls.
First off, I apologize for that medieval moment I had… Moving on with the review, Underground 2 is a definite “play again.” It is always nice to return to your roots, ya know? Just revisit the classics from time to time. If you are looking for a fun and simple, yet competitive, racing game to play with the family, then NFS Underground 2 would be my top choice.
The split screen feature allows for you and your friends to have a friendly tournament (DISCLAIMER: death or bodily harm may occur for gaming sessions lasting longer than 4 hours). Also, if you are looking for a game to revisit that can keep you entertained for a few days, then Underground 2 has your back.
The only issue is that the online play is no longer supported 🙁 . It is with great sadness that I bring this news to you. I wish it was still supported because I would be playing it now… But I suppose every great thing dies at some point. Just look at DOS…
Whether you want to get your Hummer racing on or your Miata racing on, it doesn’t matter. NFS Underground 2 is a definite replay for any day. Just forget about playing online…split screen is all we have. But, then again, maybe split screen is all we need. 4/5 balls.
In conclusion, Underground 2 was LEGENDARY. This game set the standards, expectations, and foundations for every racing game to come. Its cross-platform capabilities allowed it to be enjoyed by any gamer regardless of their preference or console. The simple controls, realistic gameplay (for its time), ability to customize just about any ride, and its mesmerizing ability to make all gamers want to go back and play again even 12 years later, lead this game to get a 23/25 balls. So close to a perfect score!