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Need For Speed Undercover

August 9, 2010

“Glitches, racist stereotypes and linear boring game play destroyed this franchise”

You may be wondering why such a major franchise release could warrant such a low score, especially with the graphics and racing done so well. But there flaws in this game are just too glaring and too easily encountered to be forgiven. This is a major release, from a major big name company player (Electronic Arts), not some backwater first attempt start-up company. These are meant to be seasoned professionals, so how they could release such a piece of bug riddled crap on the Wii just staggers and appals me.

The games storyline is so unremarkably lacklustre that you’ll skip through all the cut scenes. The few things that managed to stay with me was the apparent racism in all the characters as they are all stereotypes directly from the movies. We’ve seen it all a thousand times over and once again, we have to run through it. You’re an undercover cop who must work his way through the ranks to get jobs to take the syndicates down. All the mechanics just happen to be really hot chicks as is your police controller.

Five minutes into playing this game, you get the opportunity to modify your first car. As I selected some aftermarket parts, the game froze. It locked the system after five minutes of play! Perhaps it was just a random thing? I tried again with the same result. It seems that this game will lockup the Wii more often than not. At the time of writing this, the game has locked up eight times for me. That’s more than any other game I’ve ever played. This is what EA considers worth putting its name on.

Graphics
Every thing looks shiny in the game. Everything. It is overdone to an extreme degree so much so that its almost impossible to tell the type of paint job on a car apart (from gloss, metallic, candy etc. etc.) because they all have that exact same shiny veneer. Even the roads hold the reflections of the trees. You’re not driving on a road, but rather a mirrored surface. It makes everything look tacky.

The draw distance is also a joke. On some circuits, walls will appear as you’re passing them on the turn. You can also pick which ones because each lap will have them appearing as you pass them. Cars will materialise in front of you out of no where. If you watch for it, at high speeds, you can see most cars bouncing on the road as the system drops them too close to you. It doesn’t happen all the time, but enough to be noticeable early on in the game.

Also, for a major city, it seems awfully deserted. The major highways you will pretty much have to yourself as cars a few and far between. It is sparse to say the least and the few that do appear always seem to be in your turning line or just perfectly aligned to get in your way.

Sound / music
One of the claims to its popularity that the Need for Speed franchise always had was its good use of music to fit the game play. Unfortunately, you can see that this time around the budget was cut back on quite a bit because most of the music is bland and unremarkable for the game. Very few tracks appealed to me at all and it would have been nice to be able to import a few tracks from your own collection.

The sound effects are also prone to glitch. Many times the system has locked an engine rev and maintained it through the missions or restarts. The only way to fix it is to reload a previous game, restart the system or just wait until it inevitably locks up.

Controls
Sadly EA have done a brilliant thing with the control schemes. It has support for the old GameCube controllers and it maintains the original control scheme that it used through the last few games. This makes the game instantly playable and fun because there is virtually no learning curve.

Gameplay
There is no difficulty in this game what so ever. It’s like a gutted version of the last few Need For Speed games, not only lacking in content but also with the speed breaker feature, all single player experiences are easily bested through slowing down time and taking turns perfectly at impossible speeds. Even the linear missions are boring and easily conquered offering very little challenges. Oh and the blatant rip off from the Burnout series cannot be ignored. EA get high scores for originality.

I also have a major gripe here with the car inclusions. The Wii release lost quite a few cars in the conversion that the Playstation and Xbox kept. While certainly, I can understand lowering graphics, content removal is just idiotic and lazy. Why weren’t they included? Why can the Wii not customise a whole bunch of cars that are offered in multiplayer?

One of the biggest aspects of Need For Speed was picking a car, customising it and racing it against your friends versions. In Undercover, you can forget all about that because in multiplayer you can only select pre-set cars. You cannot customise paint-jobs or mechanics. Also, certain multiplayer games are locked until you open them in single player. What the hell kind of thinking is that?! Are EA specifically trying to make the worse racing game ever?!

Nitpicking
In all honesty, this section could go longer than the entire review as there are so many flaws in this game that its very hard to give credit for the good points.

The games linear single player experience is a joke because it offers nothing worthwhile or entertaining. This story has been done before, and in a much better fashion. There are no locations in the game besides your safe house. No mechanics or dealerships, nothing. You just go from A to B to A again. That’s it. The last few releases had some more content, like random racers you could find and race against. Undercover has nothing but the next mission. It’s little wonder why there is no point to exploring the world, which is tiny and recycled. There are parts that will have you feel De-ja-vu like you’re playing NFS: Most Wanted again.

There is a meter you fill during the game called “in the zone” where you get rewarded for dangerous driving. This reward is a multiplier that will increased the recovery of nitro and speed breakers. This multiplier is redundant and stupid. Why not just reward you directly for dangerous driving? Oh wait, then it would be the Burnout series! Also, tell me how travelling over 300kph on the wrong side of the road doesn’t qualify for dangerous driving? Where is my bonus for that?

There are very few objects you can use to lose the cops. In NFS: Most Wanted, you could smack into trucks and they would lose their loads. In Undercover, there is only one type of truck and they only slow you down. Secondly, when you’re trying to lose the cops and you hit the few destructible pursuit breakers (like signs, or statues that fall into the path of cops) you come to a dead stop afterwards. EVERY TIME! In Most Wanted, where this is copied from, you maintained your speed and could get some distance from the cops. In this game you’ll end up in a dead stand still in front of a wall. Is it just me, or is this just some sort of sick joke?

Lastly, Where did all the fun games go? Underground had a drifting game, Most Wanted had a drag race. This has nothing. Some crappy version of cops and robbers is all you’ll get which is just another pale sprint race rip off. Prepare yourself for disappointment.

The VERDICT
Do not get this game. It hit the shelves and a month later it had been reduced to half price. Even if it is lowered to five percent of its original price, it’s still a rip off. Sure it has decent graphics and a good racing experience, but its riddled with bugs and offers a sub-par experience when compared to the last few Need For Speed games.

It seems the Wii gets consistently screwed over by conversion games. I was really looking forward to this release and was disappointed by the initial reviews. But, once I’d gotten it, I honestly felt they weren’t harsh enough. This is a major game franchise and this abomination is unacceptable.

If you want an alternative racing experience that will deliver entertainment, stick with Carbon or Most Wanted. They are the last of a successful series and Carbon is available for the Wii. Do not get Undercover unless you’re willing to be very forgiving and don’t expect to get your moneys worth.

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From → Wii

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