Need for Speed: Underground (Microsoft Xbox, 2003)
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|EA GAMES' vaunted Need for Speed series, which first hit the gas in 1995 on the 3DO platform, continues with the multi-platform release of Need for Speed: Underground. As the title suggests, players are embroiled in the shadowy world of illicit street racing. Players will enlist in various underground events held on city streets at dusk. While battling rivals in drag races or more conventional pursuits, players can earn cash used to purchase an assortment of vehicle modifications. Over 20 licensed cars are available to tweak and customize from such manufacturers as Mitsubishi, Toyota, and Suburu, among others. Developed by the same team responsible for 2002's Hot Pursuit 2, the game also features official parts from Bilstein, Audiobahn, Dazz Motorsport, and other providers.
Underground rebooted the franchise, ignoring the previous Need for Speed games which featured sports cars and exotics. It was the first game in the series to offer a career mode featuring a storyline, and a garage mode that allowed players to fully customize their cars with a large variety of brand-name performance and visual upgrades. All races take place in a generic city at night called Olympic City, though the city bears some resemblance to New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Rather than exotic cars, Underground featured vehicles associated with the import scene. Underground was commercially successful, and inspired a sequel.
The player starts straight into the action, at a circuit race driving a uniquely styled Acura Integra Type R with a Mantis wide body kit, easily winning over his opponents... only to be woken up by Samantha (Cindy Johnson) from his daydreaming.
Samantha is the player's friend in the new environment; she shows the player how the console with the races works, who's who, and makes fun of the player's starter car. Eddie (and his orange-metallic Nissan Skyline), is the leader of the Eastsiders and current top racer of the streets, and Melissa (Amy Walz) is his girlfriend.
Time passes, races are won. The player meets other racers, and eventually gathers a small list of nemeses that continually challenge him and are defeated. He is introduced to TJ, who promises unique performance upgrades in exchange of beating time trial challenges; Samantha does the same from time to time, offering unique visual modifications instead.
Need for Speed: Underground received positive reviews. GameRankings and Metacritic gave it a score of 81.76% and 83 out of 100 for the Xbox version.
|Game||Need for Speed: Underground|
|Number of Players||1 or 2|
|ESRB Rating||E - Everyone|
|ESRB Descriptor||Mild Language, Suggestive Themes|
|Game Special Features||
|Game Series||Need for Speed Series|
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