Need for Speed: Underground

Windows game, 2003

Genre:
Racing
Year:
2003
Developer:
Electronic Arts
Publisher:
Electronic Arts
Perspective:
1st-person, 3rd-person
Theme:

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Average rating: 5 (1 vote)
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Need for Speed: Underground screenshot 2Need for Speed: Underground screenshot 3Need for Speed: Underground screenshot 4Need for Speed: Underground screenshot 5

Need for Speed: Underground (NFSU) marked a significant departure from the series' traditional focus on high-end, exotic supercars, introducing players to the gritty, adrenaline-fueled world of underground street racing. Unlike its predecessors, NFSU eschews the shiny allure of Ferraris and Lamborghinis for more accessible vehicles like the Ford Focus, VW Golf, and other cars that might seem mundane at first glance. However, as players progress through the game, they unlock a variety of other cars, including the Hyundai Coupe, Subaru Impreza, Nissan 240SX, Acura RSX, and Honda S2000, transforming these everyday vehicles into high-performance racing machines. …read more

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Game review

Need for Speed: Underground (NFSU) marked a significant departure from the series' traditional focus on high-end, exotic supercars, introducing players to the gritty, adrenaline-fueled world of underground street racing. Unlike its predecessors, NFSU eschews the shiny allure of Ferraris and Lamborghinis for more accessible vehicles like the Ford Focus, VW Golf, and other cars that might seem mundane at first glance. However, as players progress through the game, they unlock a variety of other cars, including the Hyundai Coupe, Subaru Impreza, Nissan 240SX, Acura RSX, and Honda S2000, transforming these everyday vehicles into high-performance racing machines.

One of the game's most compelling features is its deep customization system, a nod to the burgeoning car tuning culture of the early 2000s. NFSU allows players to modify and upgrade their vehicles extensively, from aesthetic enhancements like spoilers, wheels, wings, and lights, to performance upgrades including engines, shock absorbers, turbochargers, and nitrous oxide systems. This level of customization enables players to turn their initial "hoes" into formidable "carts" tailored to their racing style and aesthetic preferences.

The gameplay in NFSU remains true to the arcade racing roots of the Need for Speed series, with driving mechanics that prioritize thrilling speed and maneuverability over realistic simulation. The presence of the police, a staple of earlier entries in the series, is significantly reduced, reflecting the game's focus on underground racing culture rather than high-speed chases with law enforcement.

NFSU's structure is predominantly linear, with the game guiding players through a series of races across its campaign. However, it does offer some choice in the sequence of races, allowing for a degree of player agency. The game's economy is balanced to provide a consistent challenge, rewarding players with money for each race that can be used to upgrade their vehicles. The difficulty can be adjusted across three levels, ensuring that players are always able to progress and enhance their cars.

Inspired by the popular film saga The Fast and the Furious, particularly its first installment which heavily featured street racing, NFSU captures the essence of the underground racing scene. The game's emphasis on car customization, coupled with its vibrant, nocturnal cityscapes and intense racing action, resonated with fans of the genre and contributed to its enduring popularity.

Need for Speed: Underground represents a pivotal moment in the Need for Speed franchise, embracing the culture of street racing and vehicle modification that defined an era. Its legacy is evident in the continued popularity of tuning-centric racing games and its influence on subsequent entries in the Need for Speed series.

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