Need For Speed: Undercover
Need For Speed: UndercoverNeed for Speed: Undercover is the 12th installment of the popular racing video game series Need for Speed, developed by EA Black Box and published by Electronic Arts . It was released on Microsoft Windows, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360 and Wii platforms in November 2008. According to EA, the game has sold over 5.2 million copies on all 8 platforms combined. Need for Speed: Undercover is also the very last Need for Speed game to be released for a sixth-generation gaming console . Undercover is the last of the second era of Need for Speed games, although it is the first game in the series to use the current logo and typeface.
Need For Speed: Undercover PlotA few days before Undercover's release, EA revealed a few plot details. A video was uploaded that showed the player evading capture from the Tri-City Police Department (TCPD). Another source revealed that the player gets aided by detective Chase Linh as the main antagonist and Lt. Jack Keller, played by actors Maggie Q and Paul Pape respectively, whilst also making friends with a character named Carmen Mendez, played by singer and actress Christina Milian.
In addition, six criminal characters were revealed, who are:
Chau Wu played by Jack Yang
Gregory "GMAC" MacDonald a former undercover police officer from the TCPD, who's gone native, played by actor David Rees Snell (from the television series The Shield)
Rose Largo played by actress Heather Fox
Hector Maio played by actor Kurt Caceres (from the television series Prison Break)
Freddy "Nickel" Rogers played by actor Lawrence B. Adisa
Zack Maio played by actor Joshua Alba (brother of the actress Jessica Alba)
Carmen Mendez played by actress/singer Christina Milian
The player is set in the story as a police officer, who goes undercover into the criminal underground of Tri-City, a fictional city where the game is based. The player has to take on dangerous 'jobs' and compete in races in order to infiltrate and take down a ruthless international crime smuggling syndicate, consisting of illegal street racers and car thieves. The player's only contacts to the police are federal handler Chase Linh, played by Maggie Q, and later Lt. Jack M. Keller played by Paul Pape. In time, the player begins to prove himself as an excellent racer and wheelman. As he goes deeper undercover, he ends up having to take out different criminal "friends" he meets but mistakenly frames Chau Wu, a ruthless leader of a crime syndicate. Chau Wu then calls the player and tells him that there is only one thing he can do to redeem himself. There is a car stolen from the dockyards with incriminating evidence in it. Chau Wu believes GMAC stole it, and he wants it back. In reality, Hector and Zack Maio are the ones who stole it, not realizing who the car belonged to. Carmen, fearful that Chau Wu is coming after her, asks the player to take the BMW M6 (Porsche 911 GT2 on PS2 and Wii versions) from her, however, Chau Wu finds out that the player now has his car. He phones the player demanding the car back and will use Chase Linh as a hostage until the player does. As a result, the player takes the car to Chau Wu, hoping to save her but when he gets there, he discovers that Chase Linh has been working with Chau Wu all along. Chase Linh then murders Chau Wu and his henchman with a silenced pistol recovered from Chau Wu in order to frame the player with his death and escapes in the car, taking any of Chau Wu's possessions that were in it with her. The police, thinking the player is the killer, come after him but Lt. Jack Keller tells him to lose them and go after Chase. The chase takes place with Chase in a grey BMW M6 (red Porsche 911 GT2 With a vinyl resembling the vinyl of the BMW M3 GTR in Need for Speed: Most Wanted in the PlayStation 2 and Wii Versions) which contained the money. Eventually, she is apprehended and charged. Later, Lt. Keller tells the player that Carmen testified in return for not being charged for any criminal offenses and that the evidence used against Chase Linh was Chau Wu's PDA, which contained information regarding the dockyard cars and other criminal activities. The player is praised because he went 'Deep Undercover' but still did not forget himself. In the last scene, Carmen asks the player to drive her to the university because she is currently attending as a med student. The ending song after that scene (credits) is On My Own performed by Splitting Adam.
Undercover is followed by Need for Speed: World which was released internationally on July 27, 2010.
Need For Speed: Undercover GameplayUndercover features a new open world map (like the Midnight Club series) consisting of 109 miles (175 km) of road and a large highway system, making it the largest Need for Speed "world" EA has created so far. The game's environment consists of four boroughs: Palm Harbor, Port Crescent, Gold Coast Mountains, and Sunset Hills (in the DS version the boroughs are Metropolis, North Port Crescent, South Port Crescent and Riverton). In the Wii and PS2 versions two boroughs are copied off Need for Speed Most Wanted and put into different positions. These four boroughs make up the city, Tri-City, presumably a city located on the Gulf Coast or on the California Coast although the city itself heavily resembles Los Angeles. The road system includes four water crossings, going clockwise: the Main Guy Causeway (Ocean Expressway connecting Sunset Hills to Port Crescent via man-made island), the Vale Causeway (Sunset Hills to Palm Harbor), the North T Causeway (Man-made island to Palm Harbor), and the Memorial Tunnel (Port Crescent to Palm Harbor). Undercover also features a new continuous highway system. In previous installments, highways were relatively small circuits concentrated within separate boroughs. In Undercover, the main highway circles Tri-City, with each of the four boroughs sharing a piece of the larger circuit. The longer highway length gives a more realistic shape, with long straight areas, gentle curves, rest areas and large interchanges. Lastly, the entire map is open from the start of the game, unlike previous installments where boroughs had to be unlocked.
The police system is similar to Most Wanted and Carbon. It uses a similar bar graph at the bottom of the screen that moves between the blue "Evade" (shown as green on PS2 and Wii), on the right side, and the red "Busted", on the left side, depending on the player's speed and proximity to police. The "Cooldown" period after evading pursuing police units returns as well (shown in light blue), along with heat levels, speedbreaker and pursuit breakers. Also similar to Most Wanted and Carbon, police vehicles range from generic city patrol cars to federal pursuit cars accompanied by police rhinos (SUVs) and helicopters. Unlike previous games, the type of police that appear is not entirely dependent on heat levels (i.e. high level police can appear at low heat levels and vice versa) but more on the player's wheelman level (i.e. progress through the game). At a high wheelman level, federal police will immediately join the pursuit, even if the player was at a low heat level. Common police tactics such as road blocks, rolling road blocks, spike strips, and PIT maneuvers are all featured, although some are only used by federal police. In addition, the player gets to drive a police vehicle in a mission in career mode, which consists of stealing a Nissan GTR state police car. The other police cars cannot be driven except in a multiplayer game called Cops and Robbers. In the PlayStation 2 and Wii versions, however, other than in the mentioned mission (in these versions the cop car is a Lamborghini Gallardo - there's no GTR in them), the player earns from Chase Linh three police cars in career mode (Mustang GT, Lamborghini Gallardo and Porsche 911 GT2) after reaching certain parts of the game, which can be driven in a "chasedown mode", where the player has to arrest a certain number of racers, earning money as a reward.
A damage system returns to Undercover, but differs from the prior title ProStreet in that the damage is only cosmetic and does not adversely affect performance. However, a car can still be "Totaled" in the new "Highway Battle" mode (except PlayStation 2 and Wii) and in some missions in career mode. During these missions a car damage bar is displayed, which indicates the amount of damage done to the player's vehicle. The primary goal of these missions is to deliver certain cars without totaling them. In general, damage is automatically repaired after every career race or police pursuit, unlike in ProStreet where it had to be repaired by the player at a cost (either money or a "repair marker"). The damage system has been updated, which is more detailed given that scratches and dents could now be seen on the player's car (which represent minor damage), or heavy damage such as entire sections of the car ripped off (like bumpers, hoods etc.) or large deformations or dents. Police vehicles can sustain damage but in a different way than they did in Most Wanted and Carbon. Instead of the damage being made up of static models (although doors, trunk doors, hoods, bumpers and sirens could be broken off), the damage models are now flexible, and each area of the car can suffer from none, light, medium, or major damage (unlike Most Wanted or Carbon where each area can be in only two states of damage, undamaged or damaged). Many minor hits to different areas will gradually make the sustained damage more and more severe.
The customization of cars is similar to Need for Speed: ProStreet but has been enhanced on the level of graphics and detail. The new color palette and the "matte" paint were improved. The game also features aftermarket parts like Carbon did. As a bonus, EA added a vinyl similar to the vinyl of the BMW M3 GTR in Need for Speed: Most Wanted that was continued as a bonus car in "Carbon".
The player can gain wheelman (i.e. reputation) points as they progress through the game's story by participating in missions, winning races or performing flashy maneuvers in a police chase. In turn, this grants the player access to bonus missions, adding a small RPG-like element to game play.
The game also uses in-game advertising, featuring the T-Mobile Sidekick.
ReceptionNeed for Speed: Undercover was met with mixed reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Xbox 360 version 64.58% and 64/100, the PlayStation 3 version 62.66% and 59/100, the PC version 61.70% and 65/100, the Nintendo DS version 58.20% and 59/100, the PlayStation 2 version 58.00% the Wii version 53.92% and 54/100, and the PlayStation Portable version 50.50% and 52/100. There were complaints about the game's easy difficulty, repetitiveness, and poor texture maintenance. One reviewer went as far as recommending the game's rivals such as Rockstar Games' Midnight Club: Los Angeles and EA's own Burnout Paradise.
The IGN review was critical of the PS3 version of Undercover giving it a 4/10, calling it a "poor game with a ton of problems" and with "practically no redeeming qualities". IGN also commented on how the reason for having an open world environment was lost because a player could only start an event from the map. However, the Xbox 360 and the PC versions received a higher score in contrast to the PS3 version in the IGN review, due to the fewer severe problems that occurred.
The 1UP.com review called the game only "fairly successful," but praised the games selection of cars and tighter handling on the vehicles. However, the "leveling" system that unlocks cars and upgrades was criticized for resembling "grinding".
In general, sparse traffic, wide-open roads, and poor AI led to complaints about extremely low difficulty, however, one reviewer commented on how this may have been a marketing ploy to target a wider audience.
The reception to the live-action cut scenes was almost universally negative, with many critics noting that the videos were poorly acted and lacked purpose. Many have even compared the cut scenes to a "Michael Bay or Roland Emmerich film". The lack of connection between the crime fighting undercover cop story and the racing game play was particularly criticized by IGN who said, "You ... run missions where you steal cars, make 'special' deliveries and things like this now and again, but you never actually see any sequences that show how the cops are putting the evidence together or anything of that sort. Chase Linh will tell you you need to do to get on the inside of a racing group in order to get dirt on them, and then after a race she'll say 'We have enough, let's move in.' " Finally, the in-game frame rate received little praise, and GameSpot particularly criticized the PS3 version for this problem resulting in a lower score on the platform compared to the Xbox 360 and PC versions.
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