Need for Speed: Underground 2

The Need for Speed Racing game series for the PS2 is probably the second most popular video game racing series out there (second to the Grand Theft Auto series). Need for Speed: Underground 2 brings together the best of the Need For Speed games that came before it and adds to it. The newest noteworthy touch is the SUV races, where you can finally street race in a top-heavy SUV like the Hummer.
The Story:
You have been out of the street racing scene for a while and you have just gotten your insurance check from your accident a few months back (this is why you have been out of the racing scene). You have just moved to Bayview (very reminiscent of Hollywood and Los Angeles), and you want to get a new start in the underground racing world and eventually become top dog. But there are those who want to make sure you don’t take over (namely the guy who is currently top dog). They will try to do anything they can to make sure that you don’t win, but only on the track. This story is told in a comic book style, with the little windows and bubbles.

This game only has a story because every game needs some kind of a story, however, I feel that if there were no story, the game would be no different.

The Graphics:
The graphics were pretty good. I never had anything disappear on me (which is not always the case with most of the racing games I have played), but I did have one problem , and a big one, that is still leaving me scratching my head. About 3/4th of the way through the game, the screen started flashing big squares on it. It looked like the type of squares that the story is told in this game, like comic book pages. the squares only flashed whenever I was in a certain part of the airport, and only for a small part of the game.

The Sound:
I though the quality of the sound was pretty good (but I have had few problems with sound in any game I have come across). There is a messenger system in the game, which beeps whenever you get a message and people “call” you and tell you where hidden races are (hidden races are where some of the bigger bucks lie). Like most racing games, there is a soundtrack that plays whenever you are racing. There were only a few songs, but the one I liked the best (and the only one I can still remember) is Black Betty. I have always liked that song. After a while, though, I got sick of the limited soundtrack and shut the music part of the game off and played my iPod through my stereo.

The Gameplay:
I am not really big on racing games, I prefer to whack enemies in games like Spyro, Jak, Tomb Raider, and Ratchet and Clank, but this is one of the few racing games that I have played that I actually liked. The buttons are classic race buttons (X for gas, square for brake, etc.), the you can choose your own races, and the type of race you want to be in, or just drive around the city and crash (and you can easily make some awesome crashes), and there are several shops where you can change your car (from engine upgrades to painting and things like suicide doors). This is pretty much all standard stuff (Many games I have played won’t let you drive without a mission), but it meshes well together in this game.

The controls worked well in this game, they were very responsive, but not too responsive, and the car drove differently when it was raining than it did when there was no rain. The car also handled differently depending on what speed I was going. I liked this tough, too many racing games that I have played made the car handle the same way no matter what you did or the environment you were in.

Overall:
I give this game a 4.5, because of the graphics problem I had. This is one of the better games I have played. Now I have to go get some of the other Need for Speed games and see if they are as good.

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