Need for Speed Undercover
Break out your trench coat, baseball hat and a pair of dark shades.
Break out your trench coat, baseball hat and a pair of dark shades because donning a disguise is the only way to save face if you plan on picking up Need for Speed: Undercover. You'll want to go incognito in order to hide the fact you're buying the worst instalment in this long-running racing series. Beyond its brassy sense of style, the game wrecks years of solid racing by introducing derivative and deficient driving mechanics that has the series fitfully spinning its wheels.
- Lengthy single player campaign, new experience system rewards you based on ability
- Substandard driving mechanics, less variety in races and events, open-world design handled poorly
Friends don't let friends play Need for Speed: Undercover. Mediocre racing and tacky styling leave it stuck in neutral, gunning its engine while going absolutely nowhere. While a long campaign mode and intriguing new experience system get the pistons pumping, everything grinds to a halt when the rubber hits the road in the worst instalment of the series in recent memory. It's the video game equivalent of test driving a brand new Lamborghini only to have the engine overheat and the tires go flat as soon as you get on the freeway. Too bad the gaming equivalent of AAA doesn't exist; that way, if you're unlucky enough to buy this game, you could get a little roadside assistance.
Running On Fumes
As a detective working with the Tri-City Bay Area police, Undercover puts you deep in an operation to route out a link between a local street racing syndicate and arms smuggling ring. The sprawling urban area serves as one gigantic raceway, allowing you to roam the streets and highways in search of events. You're encouraged to fit in with these cool criminals by winning challenges, destroying public property, and generally sticking it to the cops.
But pulling off asphalt heroics is made difficult by the introduction of the Heroic Driving Engine, which replaces the tight controls and responsive handling of previous instalments for a set of decent yet poorly executed driving mechanics. The series' fine balance between arcade and simulation has been completely blown to smithereens. Also, events like "Cost To State" which emphasise crash-and-bash tactics over slick driving makes the game feel derivative of titles like Burnout and highlights just how inferior Need for Speed has become when racing head-to-head against the competition.
Call The Tow Truck
It's clear that the Need For Speed series is in need of a GPS unit so it can get back on track. It should go back to doing what it did best: Where are all the cool, varied events? Where's the fine-tuned handling? Where's the intuitive vehicle customisation and tuning? Undercover fails to deliver the fundamental concepts that made the franchise enjoyable, relying instead on slick production values and a trumped up sense of style. The game does a good job of rewarding your skilful driving and there are plenty of options for people who want to venture online but this franchise has clearly driven itself off the side of the road. Hopefully, it'll find its way its way back in time for the next instalment.
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