Need for Speed Underground 2 Review

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Developer: Pocketeers Publisher: EA
Release Date: May 10, 2005 Available On: Nintendo DS

The Nintendo DS is in need of racing games, simulation or arcade. Need for Speed Underground 2 for the Nintendo DS is EA’s first entry into the racing genre on the DS. Need for Speed Underground 2 has been preceded by an N-Gage port in Asphalt Urban GT and an N64 port in Namco’s Ridge Racer. The difference from those two arcade DS racers is, Need for Speed Underground 2 is the only game designed specifically for the DS hardware.

Keeping that in mind, you would think the DS version of the game would have something special about it that the others would not. This is not the case. The top screen displays the action, while the bottom acts as an admittedly useful map, along with other information that clears space on the top screen for a complete view of the track. I might add, to fully enjoy the game, change the camera to first-person. This adds a rally-sport feel to the game. The touch-screen, however, is not used for anything but mini-games and customizing your car’s look.

Pocketeers are behind the DS version of the game, so it’s to be expected that their direction with the GBA games would be prevalent in the Nintendo DS version. In some respects, this is evident. The graphical style is different from the console version, but that may just be the hardware difference. The menu icons are much like that in the console version, but unlike the console version, there is no open city. Like the PSP version, you have to wade through menus to select a race.

Need for Speed Underground 2 for the Nintendo DS comes with several modes, albeit fewer than the console and PSP versions. Race Now, Go Underground, Mini-Games, Profile, Garage, and Multi-Player are the options after the Start menu. I have read that multi-player supports up to four players, but I can’t verify firsthand, being that I only own a single DS.

What you are now wondering is what events made the cut for the handheld version. To my dismay, very few options are available. Circuit, Drag, Bonus Events, and the new “Own the Zone” are your only options, making this definitely feel like a handheld offering. Circuit is broken into three varying difficulty levels, with 12, 12, and 18 respectively. These branch between traditional first-to-the-finish-line rules, elimination (player in last is eliminated every lap), and a time trial.

As I said, Own the Zone is the only new offering that EA is giving us. Basically, race tracks are broken into “zones”, four per track. Your goal is to obtain the fastest time in each of these “zones”. The bottom map dissects each track into the various zones. If you control the zone, your vehicle’s color (found with the legend on the map) will be shaded in on the zone that you own. You may have one opponent, you may have two.

Returning is the ultra-annoying traffic. You will begin screaming and possibly throwing your DS at the wall after you hit the billionth ambulance. I swear, all this city seems to have are emergency vehicles. Ambulances, fire trucks. Where are the cops stopping us from speeding? I guess that is what Most Wanted is for. Anyway, if you didn’t have to deal with the darkened screen, which makes seeing oncoming traffic nearly impossible, the whole game would be a breeze. Skill comes less down to driving, more in avoiding traffic.

So do I suggest picking Need for Speed Underground 2 for the Nintendo DS? If you are a DS owner looking for a decent racer and can’t find that in Asphalt or Ridge Racer, EA might have answered your wishes. For fans of the franchise, especially the Game Boy Advance games, Pocketeers delivers a solid effort. With hopefully more modes and the possibility for online play, Need for Speed: Most Wanted should be the DS racing game to get. Until then, Underground 2 is enough to keep you content.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 8.5
Final: 7.3
Written by Kyle Review Guide

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