Need for Speed Undercover

  • Eclectic collection of cars
  • Refined Most Wanted formula
  • Fast pace, even between races
  • More glitz than substance
  • Cities lack traffic
  • Modify cars with real money?

It’s easy to forget how long the Need for Speed series has been around. The original – our first taste of driving licensed exotica from the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini and Dodge – existed in a world before Gran Turismo, at least five years before Midnight Club and when we were still playing the very first Ridge Racer. Over a dozen games and years later, it’s an achievement that EA Black Box (developers for the majority of the series) have managed to keep the desire to move around in a car quickly so stoked for so long.

Of course, it hasn’t been an easy life. The Underground years may have been hugely successful but now look tacky and unfashionable and as for ProStreet, well…  EA’s attempts to keep up with the trends in modified car culture resulted in a disappointing change of direction that was as much fun as the driving laps of a car park. So, it seems obvious that the latest game should carry on where some of the best in the series – namely, Hot Pursuit 2 and Most Wanted – left off. However, unlike the previously mentioned games, NFS Undercover is different because you will get the opportunity to work for both sides of the law. As Maggie Q and Christinia Milian will inform you during the movie-style cutscenes, your position as a ‘wheelman’ requires you to infiltrate a car smuggling ring by convincing the bad guys you’re one of them.

In gameplay terms, this mean you’ll be taking part in the usual point-to-point and circuit battles to improve your status amongst the local street racers, as well as outrunning cops in ‘damage to the state’ missions. Your criminal activities will also include ‘theft and delivery’ jobs, where you’ll get the opportunity to sample some of the higher tiered cars early on. So far, so Most Wanted. However, as you’re really a cop, the tables will turn. Much like Burnout – and with a bit of a nod to old classic Chase HQ – you’ll be instructed to take down key members of the crime syndicate by literally smashing their cars to pieces.

That’s not to say that ProStreet has been completely overlooked; both the handling and damage model have evolved from it. So, some of the arcade powerslides of old have been replaced with a slightly more simulation approach with tangible understeer and oversteer noticeable in each of the cars. For the most part, Undercover is a successful return to form. But it feels like EA Black Box have taken away more than they have added. Okay, so the Hollywood cast and FMV sections give this NFS some real narrative substance and the action movie pace is maintained thanks to your ability to ‘quick jump’ to the nearest event on the map.

But it’s behind the wheel where it counts the most and the new grown up approach lacks some of the arcade lunacy that made Hot Pursuit 2 so enjoyable. Even the modifying sections (once a huge part of Need for Speed titles) have been reduced down to little more than a handful of tuning and styling options. And anyway, if it’s over-the-top motoring madness that you’re looking for, then you’ll find that Midnight Club: LA fulfills that need. Need for Speed Undercover, then, is attempting to look back while also moving forward. Black Box has taken little in the way of risks but it’s not faultless – the streets can feel quite empty (depending on race type) and the framerate can get a bit juddery. But you can’t say that EA hasn’t given us what we asked for.

Nov 17, 2008

More Info

Release date: Nov 18 2008 - DS, PS2, PSP, PC, Xbox 360, Wii, PS3 (US)
Nov 21 2008 - DS, PS2, PSP, PC, Xbox 360, Wii, PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: DS, PS2, PSP, PC, Xbox 360, Wii, PS3
Genre: Racing
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: EA Black Box
Franchise: Need for Speed
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Mild Violence, Mild Lyrics, Mild Suggestive Themes
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending

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  • CMG - December 21, 2009 3:10 p.m.

    I have played a couple of the NFS games before like Prostreet and Carbon and I thought Prostreet was not that good and Carbon was alright but Undercover tops them both. NFS Undercover I actually enjoyed playing.
  • AMayer - November 30, 2008 6:56 p.m.

    Uh oh. Looks like someone has a broken Caps Lock key. I've always liked the NFS series so I'm in a dilema about wether or not to buy it or let it go. It seems like a cool game, but the review didn't mention anything about it being "fun."
  • xxOverkillerxx - November 22, 2008 11:52 p.m.

    I just played the game and I thought it was a mix between MW and prostreet. Me being the big street racing fan I am i enjoyed the game and think that the only downside is the pay with microsoft points thing
  • Prospero - November 18, 2008 5:47 p.m.

    well.. I dont think Carbon was that bad, but I do acknowledge Most Wanted as the best even though I was obsessed with Underground 2, and Hot persuit. I think its worth a least.
  • Timothy_Lemon - November 18, 2008 12:06 p.m.

    i'm glad it's like Most Wanted because MW was the best one. As long as it's better than Carbon and Prostreet i'm happy.
  • LONGDONGpiChong - November 18, 2008 3:36 a.m.

    do i really need to say it... IM first WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 I can do any thing now that im first yes! yes! yes this is the moment of my life that I am going to remember forEVER the day that I'm actually first in something!!
  • dylpickle92 - December 9, 2008 1:49 p.m.

    well at least this article is more realistic then the other one i read, its had lke 140 words, if that i believe that underground 2 was th best by far, but i am hoping this one will be better then prostreet
  • benjismokin23 - December 6, 2008 2:27 a.m.

    FO SHO! They need to realize that a game can only go SO FAR before you have to pull something totally fuckinawesome to bring it back up to previous games! This game better be good.......all the rest besides NFSMW and earlier are great...this game needed to ROCK!
  • bovice - December 3, 2008 8:43 p.m.

    I must admit... the game is better than Prostreet, but its not the same as NFS Underground, considering with NFS Underground the user has the chance to upgrade / customize the entire vehicle... tints, interior, etc. NFS Undercover seems to lack that. Some improvements such as graphics, are really good.. but it still lacks customization to the vehicles. I might be bragging bout somethin' stupid here, but NFS Undercover reeks overall. I thought it was way to easy to beat, I expected something a bit harder.. or at least a way to allow users to make the game harder... like veteran levels.
  • 1Demon3 - November 19, 2008 9:39 p.m.

    how in da hell do you go from runnin' from da lawz to being da law it dont make sence i admit da graphicz are badass but still how do you go from racin' other cars illegaly to to racing for cops come on think for a min. you wanna sell da game not let it fall off tha market
  • RCTrucker7 - November 18, 2008 7:41 p.m.

    Well, from the this review, IGN's review, 1up's review, and Game Trailers review, it seems to me that NFS continues its downhill slide into crapdom that it began with Carbon. MW was, for me, then best iteration of NFS. Carbon, was like its name, just a copy of MW, but just as a copy of something usually is, it wasn't quite as sharp as the original. Then came along Pro Street. It just downright sucked. Now, Undercover seems to bring even more shame on the name.
  • APOLLONIOS - November 18, 2008 6:07 p.m.

  • GameCraze - May 26, 2009 2:20 a.m.

    I really want this game, but from the look of the reviews and other people, this game doesn't look too promising. It looks good, but I HAVE heard that it has a lot of flaws. I don't want to put the game down [I'm a MAJOR NFS Fan] but I can point out the flaws for those who are looking to buy it, but aren't sure if it's any good... - Game is too short/too easy - Buy car upgrades with Microsoft points? [What?!] - A mix of NFS Carbon and NFS Most Wanted [Which weren't exactly the highlight of NFS] By the way the game looks, I would say it's good enough to rent or borrow, but not good enough to keep in your game collection. [If you're looking for a good street racing game, try "Midnight Club L.A."]
  • ghegin - January 9, 2009 6:05 p.m.

    some of u are rite most wanted wasthe best one but i think that the nl thing bad bout undercover is thatu need like sunglasse to play it the graphics are to bright. Well the only thing 'BAD' about Most Wanted is that it was a bittt short and they had a very limited variety of cars and most of them semm like beginner cars like the golf i mean the only good car was the convertible porsche. anyway i think the undercover is an amazing game overall with the neww cars like the Audi TT and the old porsche i found pretty facinatng.Anyway "PEACE OUT ALL GAMERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!hahaha hi"
  • stevenh1957 - December 16, 2008 9:05 p.m.

    20 hours is all it took me to finish the game and im not all that good at racing games, ust when i began to think it was going to start getting down to business it was over. what a real let down
  • bovice - December 12, 2008 11:53 p.m.

    NFS Underground 2... I think was the best. NFS Most Wanted, was good but wasn't that good. If your looking to buy Undercover, it's really not worth it. It's simple... to easy... way to easy, at least for me. I just remembered... doesn't NFS Underground allow us to race other racers while in career mode? A road battle, I think it's called? Once again about me bragging... one more thing.. Those of you that just bought the game, beware of the fact that while running from the cops, the other vehicles have a "issue" of crashing into you. Maybe it's just me, but I swear everytime I am being followed by the cops, a car turns into my lane and causes me to crash.
  • Purp - April 13, 2009 11:44 p.m.

    I have only seen gameplay on youtube but from what i saw on the videos it looks way better than prostreet (not that hard only game that is worse is really well nothing actually prostreet is just horible played it a day and got through 3/4 of game with first car and races are way to easy because not cops and traffic just the other cars.
  • Tidy-Trooper - December 30, 2008 1 a.m.

    has anyone elses console stopped reading discs since they started playing this game, because my sisters and my mates ps3s both stopped reading games while playing this and also my other friends 360 screwed up as well. It might just be a case of bad luck (as they say it comes in threes lol) but if anyone else knows of the same thing happening let me know plz its been bugging me 4 a whiler