Need for Speed: Underground 2 (Microsoft Xbox, 2004)
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|The Need for Speed goes back underground, to add more customization and role-playing-styled challenges to the long-running racing series. This follow-up steers players though the main drags and back-alleys of an interactive city, which is divided into five different neighborhoods. By seeking out street races and earning a reputation, players will be able to acquire faster, more powerful automobiles and extensive customization options. The game is designed to represent the "tuner lifestyle," and the main mode of play has virtual street racers exploring the city on their own, to find pick-up races and learn of the best places to get new parts. Need for Speed Underground 2 is hosted by Brooke Burke, known for her role on the E! Entertainment television network's Wild On series. The game features licensed automobiles from a number of manufacturers, including Ford, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen.
The game entails tuning cars for street races, resuming the Need for Speed: Underground storyline. Need for Speed: Underground 2 provides several new features, such as a broader customization, new methods of selecting races, the "explore" mode (similar to the Midnight Club series, in a large city known as "Bayview"). The City Center was based on Philadelphia, Beacon Hill was based on Beverly Hills and Coal Harbor was based on Camden, New Jersey, and Bayview as a whole is a microcosm of the west coast of the United States. Underground 2 also introduces several SUVs, which could be customized as extensively as other Underground 2 vehicles and used to race against other SUV racers. Brooke Burke is the voice of Rachel Teller, the person who guides the player throughout the game.
In addition to the racing modes included in the previous Underground game (Circuit, Sprint, Drag and Drift races), four new variations of races have been provided in Underground 2. One racing mode was dropped, this being the Knockout competitions. Still, a Lap Knockout option is available when racing Circuit in non-career races.
Underground 2 is unique among the games in the Need for Speed series in that it requires players to drive to a certain place in the city in order to begin a race (other games allow the player to select a race from a menu). Most races are marked on the in-game radar, but some are hidden and the player must search for them, should he/she decide to play them.
Once any stage is completed, all of the race locations for that stage are removed from the map and a new set of race locations are placed on the map for the next stage. While in the garage, there is a "World Map" feature that includes a menu of races for all prior stages, with the menu noting which races have been completed or not completed, and the player can select any race from any prior stage to run from the menu. After completing stage 2 through stage 5 (stage 5 is the last stage of career mode), there will always be 8 sponsor races that will not be completed, since a player has to choose a single sponsor per stage and can only run 3 out of 11 unique sponsor races, leaving 8 sponsor races not completed at the end of each stage. These can only be run using World Map. Due to a game bug (at least on PC version), if running a non completed race from the World Map, no credit (cash or rep) will be awarded unless the player uses restart at least one time during the race. The restart can be done as soon as the race starts in order to get credit for the win.
Need for Speed: Underground 2 received positive reviews. GameRankings and Metacritic gave it a score of 86% for the Mobile version; 83.50% and 82 out of 100 for the PC version, 82.61% and 83 out of 100 for the Xbox version. The game is widely regarded as the one of the best games of the series (along with the previous year's Underground) and is remembered for the quality of the gameplay, the length, the endless customization, the interesting side-missions, the graphics and the addition of "Free Roam". However, some of its elements were criticized as well, such as having to drive excessive amounts to get to specific races, bland voice acting and strong product placement for companies with no connection to auto racing, such as integrating the logo for Cingular, an American wireless communications company, into the game's messaging system and displaying it on-screen for much of the gameplay.
|Game||Need for Speed: Underground 2|
|Number of Players||1 or 2|
|ESRB Rating||E - Everyone|
|ESRB Descriptor||Mild Lyrics, Suggestive Themes|
|Game Special Features||
|Game Series||Need for Speed Series|
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