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Need for Speed Underground 2 Nintendo DS

Published by EA Games
Developed by Electronic Arts
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £29.99

Need For Speed Underground 2, an introduction.

The street racing sub-genre has grown enormously popular over the last few years and it's no surprise to see the first one arrive on the Nintendo DS so soon in the console's life. Last year we reviewed the Xbox and PC version of Need for Speed Underground 2 and both were very good games that are still highly popular. Here we have the Nintendo DS version of the game and it's been interesting to see how it's turned out.

What's the game about?

NFS Underground 2 on the Nintendo DS is exactly what you might expect it to be. It still retains the addictive street racing formula of the other versions and despite the fact that it's more limited than the PC and main console versions, it still manages to be the same enjoyable experience. The game offers Race Now, Go Underground, Mini Games and Multiplayer modes. Go Underground is the heart of the game and it is here where you'll be spending most of your time. Event types include circuit, own the zone, drag and bonus events. Mini Games are small touch screen games where you can win slight improvements to your car.

What's good about the game?

The Nintendo DS has had a real shortage of games but one genre where it's been sorely neglected is the driving genre. NFS Underground 2 may not be the perfect driving game but it provides something the DS has not had to date. Despite the handling issues (which I'll talk about in the next section), the game is enjoyable and the challenges are pitched just right. The drag racing in particular is very challenging and will keep you coming back for more. You'll initially only be able to chose either a Nissan 240 SX or a Volkswagen Golf GTi from the 17+ cars on offer but later in the game you'll be able to chose cars such as the Subaru Impreza WRX STi and the Nissan Skyline. Each car has ratings for top speed, acceleration and handling. The sensation of speed is also impressive for a handheld console. I also like the way you can modify the look of your car through decals and changing the paintwork. Being able to use your stylus to make these modifications makes the whole process feel much more natural than it would on a conventional console.

What's not so good about the game?

Sadly the main fault with NFS Underground 2 on the Nintendo DS is the handling. The thing is though this is more of a problem with the console rather than the game. The developers decided not to attempt using the touch screen as a means of control and instead opted for to use the directional pad to steer the car. The result is a twitchy control system that makes it all too easy (at least initially) to oversteer. Given time and with a few races under your belt you'll become accustomed to this awkward control system but I can honestly say that there will be gamers who will have a go and instantly take a dislike to the handling. Many have argued that Nintendo should have had an analogue control stick on the console for games such as this and it's not difficult to see why. Had the developers opted to use the touch screen it's doubtful the controls would have felt any better. In other areas of the game I felt the mini games could have been done away with (as they are quite tedious) and it's a shame that the multiplayer mode requires everyone to own a copy of the game.

How does it look?

Need for Speed Underground 2 looks OK on the Nintendo DS. The DS's 3D graphics are on a par with the Nintendo 64 (effectively) and the game certainly shows this fact. Although the graphics aren't highly detailed the important thing is the frame rate and throughout it remains constant and fluid with no slowdown at all. Pop-up is a problem though and buildings etc. spring up as you drive along. It's a bit unsightly but it doesn't affect anything and the draw distance is just long enough as to not prove distracting. The lower screen displays a map of the circuit by default but it can also be set to display a nitrous oxide activation screen. The game offers two camera angles called bumper (a first person view) and chase which is the typical behind the car view that most arcade racers have. You also use the touch screen to input your name, navigate the menus and play the mini games with.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Deaf Gamers will have no problems with NFS Underground 2. Because the game is on a technologically limited machine all information is in text and this makes it fine for deaf gamers. The game manual is quite brief but it covers all the aspects of the game that you're going to need to know so in that respect it does its job.

Final thoughts.

Finally there's a driving game on the Nintendo DS that most people will enjoy. NFS Underground 2 is a solid driving game that most will appreciate but it's not without its problems. The handling takes some getting used to and whilst a lot will persevere and get used to it, some will take an instant dislike to its twitchiness. It would have also been great if the game could have allowed you to have multiplayer races with just one game card. Nintendo made a lot of the console's ability to play multiplayer games with just one game card. Sadly though few developers are taking up this option and are insisting that every one of the 4 players must have their own game which means precious few gamers will experience the multiplayer game.


Overall Game Rating: 7.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification

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NFS Underground 2 will satisfy those who've been waiting for a decent driving game for the Nintendo DS. The handling does take some getting used to though.