Need for Speed: Underground (NFSU) is the seventh racing game in the Need for Speed video game series developed by EA Black Box and published by Electronic Arts in 2003.
Underground remakes the series' formula completely with a heavy emphasis on tuner culture and a storyline-driven career mode. All races take place in a generic city at night. Rather than exotic cars, Underground featured vehicles associated with the import scene. Underground was commercially successful, and inspired a sequel.
Need For Speed Underground: is a fast paced street racing game. Speed around Olympic City with a variety of different tuner cars. This game features three new play modes - Drag, Drift and Sprint. It also has a bit of a back story for gamers who want more than just a frenzied race around a virtual landscape.
If the car designs look familiar, that might just be because Need For Speed Underground features aspects of the import tuner culture made popular in movies and subsequent games like The Fast & the Furious. There's also a huge variety of tuning options in Need For Speed Underground, sure to satisfy any true race car fan. Some of these include widebody kits, spoilers, rims, window tints and decals. You can also upgrade your car's performance when it comes to the engine to make street racing through Olympic City even more nail-biting.
The only real criticism fans of this game might have is that there are no cops features in Need For Speed Underground. Slower computers might also have difficulties running the game without a few hiccups in gameplay.
It's hard to talk about an import car racing game without mentioning the movie The Fast and the Furious. The movie put as much of a spotlight on tricked-out cars as it did on its cast, and the resulting effect caused a huge surge of interest in the import racing scene. In the wake of the film, a number of other properties have risen up to try to claim a piece of the lucrative scene as its own. Need for Speed Underground is EA's attempt to get involved, and it's mostly a success.
A driving game is only as good as its handling and physics model. In this respect, Need for Speed Underground does a pretty great job, though it's by no means a realistic simulation--nor is it trying to be. It's definitely been designed with accessibility in mind rather than focusing on realistic simulation aspects. In fact, the game probably controls best with an analog, console-style gamepad. As a result, the game is quite easy to pick up and play, though some portions require a little more finesse than others. Driving with finesse earns you style points in a system similar to the one found in the Project Gotham Racing series for the Xbox, though this one is much more lenient and awards points for the simple acts of powersliding, drafting, and catching air. Style points accumulate regardless of the mode you're playing in, and you can unlock rewards each time the style points meter is filled.
Need for Speed Underground contains a decent-sized car roster. Right off the bat you'll find a Honda Civic, which is one of the more popular rides in the scene. But the inventory doesn't stop there. You'll also find a VW Golf, Acura Integra, Toyota Supra, S2000, Ford Focus, Dodge Neon, Mazda Miata, and a few more. Though the different cars are rated in handling, acceleration, and top speed, in practice the cars don't drive all that differently, especially once you've purchased some upgrades in the career mode.
The import racing scene is heavy on modifying cars with aftermarket parts, and Need for Speed Underground duplicates this aspect pretty well. The car upgrades are broken down into visual and performance upgrades. Performance upgrades come in multiple levels and must be unlocked before you can purchase them. These upgrades include turbocharge, better engines, weight reduction, enhanced braking, computer-chip tuning, nitrous oxide boosts, and so on. The game contains a lot of actual aftermarket brands for its parts, so when you purchase an upgrade, you'll have limited control over which brands you're buying, but the brand makes no difference--all the brand packages perform equally well.
The visual upgrades also have a positive effect on your car. Purchasing spoilers, body kits, replacement hoods, neons, headlights, taillights, or window tinting for your car, or making other major changes to your car's appearance, increases your reputation rating. As your rating gets higher, the multiplier bonus you get on your style points increases, which lets you unlock other rewards more quickly.