Need For Speed Underground 2
15th Jun 2004 | 13:53
The car-racing genre is dead. A bold statement you might think, and perhaps a trifle premature, but the omens are definitely there. Pure racing games are being pushed aside by a new breed of driving/action games, ones that offer gamers a lot more than just looping strips of tarmac. TOCA Race Driver, GTA, Midnight Club... The list goes on, and now the world's biggest publisher has weighed in with its newest offering.
Need For Speed Underground 2 takes the formula of the first game (illegal street racing and boy racer-ish car tuning), and adds a drive-anywhere city, resulting in a mixture of freeform exploration and non-linear racing that's sure to get GTA fans thinking.
"The game is all about discovering the tuner culture," says executive producer Chuck Osieja. "You have to explore the city to find out where the races are, how to get the best cars, how to find the best races and how to get all the best parts for your car."
This is a significant shift from the original Underground, which presented the illusion of a coherent city but was really just a series of interconnecting tracks. NFSU2's go-anywhere urban sprawl is three times the size of the original, with five distinct neighbourhoods to unlock and a much wider variety of race types. "We're making sure this is a proper sequel and not just a kind of 'Underground 1.5'," says Chuck.
The core aim of the game is to grow and develop your reputation as a street racer, earning new parts and upgrades along the way to hot up your ride and hopefully impress some chicks. This time, the number of potential car modifications has been massively expanded, and now embraces performance tuning as well as visual changes. More licensed cars will be on offer, but the selection of car types has also been broadened far beyond the traditional Hondas and Toyotas. "We're trying to anticipate where the tuner scene might be in a couple of years, not just follow what's already out there," claims Chuck.
New game modes are also promised, though these are being kept under wraps in case they're nicked by the competition. What Chuck can tell us is that the variety of driving styles is set to expand and change as the city opens up, with short, technical races in the inner areas making way for longer, open races in the surrounding hills. A freeway system runs around the entire length of the world, and Chuck is particularly excited by the prospect of LA-style spaghetti junctions. "I didn't think this was going to be very cool, but it's insane when you see it. I about messed myself." Ahem.
With no pedestrians, cops or guns, NFSU2 is not out to beat GTA - but it is taking cues from it, as well as building on its own heritage. It's an intriguing prospect we're looking forward to.