Need for Speed: Underground 2 (NFSU2) is a multiplatform racing game published and developed by Electronic Arts. Released in 2004, it is the sequel to Need for Speed: Underground, and is part of the Need for Speed series, available on GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance and Windows. It was developed by EA Black Box.
The game is based around tuning cars for street races, resuming the Need for Speed: Underground storyline. Need for Speed: Underground 2 provides several new features, such as a broader customization, new methods of selecting races, the "explore" mode (just driving around freely, similar to Grand Theft Auto, in a large city known as "Bayview", which heavily resembles Los Angeles) with a hint of San Francisco and Las Vegas locations like the Casinos and Red and White radio tower on the mountain. Underground 2 also introduces several SUVs, which could be customized as extensively as other Underground 2 vehicles and used to race against other SUV racers. Brooke Burke is the voice of Rachel Teller, the person who guides you through the story.
On the Nintendo DS installment, users are able to design custom decals to adorn any vehicle in the game.
The PSP equivalent is Need for Speed: Underground Rivals.
Underground 2 takes place in Bayview after the events of Need for Speed: Underground. The prologue begins with the player driving in a Nissan Skyline GT-R in Olympic City, the setting of NFSUG. He then receives a race challenge from a rather ominous personality who offers him a spot on his crew, but "won't take 'no' for an answer." The player races off - despite Samantha's warnings—to find the guy only to be ambushed by a mysterious driver in an SUV Hummer H2 that totals his Skyline. The driver makes a call confirming the accident, and the flashback fades out..
Fast forward to the present day, where we see the player arriving in Bayview via airplane, with a note from Samantha referring him to her friend Rachel, who will set the player up there. He also has the keys to Rachel's Nissan 350Z, which is waiting for him outside the airport. The player then has the option to complete a few races in the car before inevitably returning it to the car lot, where Rachel will allow him to choose his first vehicle. This one is free, as it was paid for by the player's insurance from his totaled Skyline.
It is then that the player embarks on a quest to become the top racer in Bayview and eventually take down the man who sabotaged his ride in the flashback, who turns out to be Caleb. After winning many races, the player runs into Caleb's street racing gang, the Street Reapers. The gang has the same vinyl, paint, and rim set. The player challenges them to a series of URL races and eventually gets Caleb's second in command, Nikki, to go to your side. Rachel tells the player that Caleb has been manipulating the sponsorship deals throughout Bayview towards him. After the player beats the Street Reapers, an infuriated Caleb challenges the player to one final race in his custom Pontiac GTO. The reward for beating the game is all cars and parts. If you beat the game 100% you get Caleb's car.
Rachel - Samantha's best friend and the player's helper or mentor. Rachel will call the player, via SMS, throughout the game letting the player know about unlocks, upgrades, and racing tips.
Caleb - A dangerous street racer who totaled the player's car and leader of the Street Reapers. Caleb controls most of the underground racing in Bayview.
In addition to the racing modes included in the previous Underground game (Circuit, Sprint, Drag and Drift races), 4 new variations of races have been provided in Underground 2. One racing mode was dropped, this being the Knockout competitions.
A circuit race is a standard race that involves up to three AI cars driving around a track that loops back to the start line of itself. A circuit race is typically a maximum of four laps and minimum of 2 laps.
A sprint race is just like a circuit race except that the track does not loop back to the start line. It's a race from A to B. It involves a maximum of three AI cars.
Drifting is one of the easier types of racing (depending on difficulty level) in Need for Speed Underground 2. One difference to the drifting mode compared to the original Need for Speed Underground is that you are drifting with the other competitors at the same time. Players race against a maximum of three competitors. You are also required to finish within 30 seconds of the first person to cross the finish line. This is to stop players turning round and getting more points if they are behind the competitors near the end of the race. Points are awarded when the player successfully slide the car and finishes the drift without hitting any walls. Players can earn extra points by; drifting in the areas near the edge of the track, chain-drifting (continuously sliding the car one way then another. Don't go heavy on the brakes, because the faster you go and the more angle on the car you have, the more points you should score. Like the Street X mode in Underground 2, no nitrous oxide is allowed.
Drag racing is like sprint racing (racing from point A to point B) but the player is not required to steer the car, except for changing lanes and the player must shift gears themselves. Players race against a maximum of three competitors. In order to master Drag mode, players must employ good timing and reflexes for gear shifting, overtaking, and the use of nitrous oxide boosts, the mode places particular emphasis in monitoring the tachometer during races, which is enlarged and situated on the leftmost portion of the screen. Steering in this mode is simplified to simply allow for lane changes, while the game handles the steering along the lanes, and the player focuses more on maintaining an optimum speed for the car. The Nitrous Oxide meter is enlarged and displayed on the bottom right of the screen. The race gets exceptionally harder the more drag races you miss and the more you complete the game. As the race gets harder, players must develop a strategy to win the race, add more performance parts to make the race dangerous and fast. Experience is a must.
While cruising around the city, players can challenge other cruising opponents in a one-on-one race. The leader is given the freedom to pick his/her racing route, and must attempt to outrun the opponent and distance itself from him/her to as much as 300 meters (1000 feet) to win. This racing formula is similar to that of Tokyo Xtreme Racer and Wangan Midnight video games, which uses health bars instead of distance to determine the winner. Once a certain amount of victories have been won by player in certain levels, the player is awarded a unique part free of charge by another racer.
Bearing similarities to touge racing and the Initial D anime series, this mode features doggystyle drifting down a stretch of mountain road (with the addition of traffic) instead of closed circuits. While the standard Drift mode in Need for Speed: Underground 2 places four competitors in one track, Downhill Drift places one player in the track, with the score of the other three opponents already recorded in the scoreboard.
Drift points are obtained similarly; Players who drift in the outer sides of the road, drift near traffic, drift sideways, or perform chained drift will rack up additional points, while collisions on either the side of the road or traffic during a drift cancels the points collected from the start of the drift.
Underground Racing League (URL)
The URL is a set of tournaments which takes place in a specific set of closed tracks outside city streets - either actual racing circuits or airport runways. URL tournaments typically consist of two or three races, with the player racing against five opponents. At the end of each race, drivers receive a specific amount of points according to their standing in a race. The total score at the end of these races determines the winner of the tournament. In Need for Speed Underground 2 there are up to 200 URL's and the only way to get to 200 is to get at least 300 rep points on all races in the game
Underground 2 had online multiplayer capability on PlayStation 2's with broadband connections, and Xbox using Xbox Live. While the online servers for PlayStation 2 are still up, EA has shut down servers for Xbox, making this feature disabled.
As in Need for Speed: Underground, Underground 2 continues to offer similar vehicles for purchase and modification, most of which consist of Asian models, with a sizable number of European and American models. In addition, Underground 2 is the only game in the Need for Speed series to date to offer three SUVs as racing vehicles, which may be modified more extensively than their compact counterparts. A total of 29 vehicle models are available for both versions of the game plus 2 unique for each of them. The PAL version of the game offers an additional two cars that the NTSC version don't have and vice versa.
Locations are Listed in the order in which they are unlocked.
- City Center
Wide open streets, bright lights and neon is what you'll find here. This is the heart of racing in Bayview, so there's always something going on here. The streets vary from wide open boulevards to high-speed freeways, so be prepared for anything.
This is your ticket out of Bayview. Stop here to watch some planes land and then go race around some tight challenging runway tracks.
- Beacon Hill
Beacon Hill is the swanky shopping district where boutique shops, yachts and private clubs are the main attractions. You may not be able to shop here but that won't stop you from racing through the palm-lined avenues against some of Bayview's best racers.
- Jackson Heights
The best views of the city can be found in this exclusive neighbourhood. Get ready for a massive elevation change as you climb the switchbacks to the Bayview summit. Check out the Observatory or some of the massive estate homes as you dodge traffic on the narrow roads.
- Coal Harbor East and West
It doesn't get any tougher than this. Narrow streets and tons of obstacles make for some sweet racing. You'll run through everything from factories, train yards and warehouses here. Keep your eyes open because there's usually more than one way through a race.
- Ghost City
Ghost City is a city texture to be seen off the edge in a specific location to the west of Jackson Heights. It looks very much like the City Core, and it is said to be the City Core, just without any roadblocks/construction, for certain drift events.
- Bayview Radio Tower
I think we all know the radio tower. A far off place/texture, but still noticeable from anywhere in the city, as long as your facing the southwest/south end of the city.
- Unknown harbor
If you go to the west/southwest end of Beacon Hills and look hard enough, there is a harbor of some sort in the distance. Nobody knows why it is there, nor if it serves any purpose.
- Unknown Light
A light commonly seen but rarely given a thought, it is found to the west of Bayview, seen from anywhere you have a clear view of the distance to the west.
- Unknown City part
This is found connected to the east of Beacon Hills, and most north of everything, Jackson Heights exempt from this, where it is located only to the east, and not connected to Coal Harbor at all exept for a small portion on the East. People say it is the rest of Bayview, and that City Core, Beacon Hills, Jackson Heights, and Coal Harbor (oh, and the airport) are only a small portion/playable area of the whole city, but others say it is simply filler, to give Bayview more life.
- Bayview Bridge
A different bridge than the ones in freeroam/circuit-sprint races, it is a unique version as it is longer, there are train tracks nearby, and it ends with buildings around it, it can only be seen in certain drag races (full, driveable model) and next to Ghost City (flat texture)
- Unknown Highway
Found next to Ghost City and the Bayview Bridge, across the base of the canyon/cliff, it is only a flat, 2D texture with flat 2D cars dotted along it. It is unknown what this is here for, it could have been a link to something in the beta, but was later dropped, the texture remaining unchanged, or maybe EA left it there as a teaser
- Magazine covers(Mostly unlocked by time trials)
- DVD covers(mostly unlocked by creating a certain amount of stars on your car reputation)
- Unique car upgrades (beating several outrun races unlocks a time trial. The trial ends in a shop depending on the type of the upgrade. Wheels, Performance, Spoilers, Hoods and Body Kits etc.)
Reception and criticism
Reviews were positive, but many elements were criticized, such as having to drive excessive amounts to get to specific races, bland voice acting and strong product placement for companies with no connection to auto racing, such as integrating the logo for Cingular, an American wireless communications company, into the game's messaging system and displaying it on-screen for much of the gameplay. The GameCube version was also bashed for its unstable frame rate. The hip-hop slang used by the characters (such as calling the money "bank") and the comic book cut scenes were also criticized.
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