Need for Speed: Underground 2
If I hadn't spent the greater part of the last few months playing Burnout 3: Takedown I would have loved Need for Speed Underground 2, and in many ways Electronic Arts latest racer is better than Takedown, but just not in the ways that matter most to me.
Underground 2 is all about street racing and it excels at giving you a world of options for tinkering with your ride and having pick-up races however I just didn't find the mechanics that appealing and the story line seemed absolutely flat to me.
If you're an absolute gear-head, there is no question you are going to love this game. You can purchase and upgrade parts for everything from your engine to your exhaust system. You can even tinker with the look of your car with new spoilers, neon kits and rims.
The game itself is not nearly as exciting. While there are 125 miles of road to tool around searching for pick-up races, cash and plot, there's still not much to do on the roadway. Instead of adding to the game, this addition of more space feels like it waters down the original game, making it a weak-sister imitation.
The best add-on to the game, online play, is fairly stable and gives players a lot more to do but just doesn't go far enough to make this game shine in a year of blockbuster games. In addition, the game's graphics and sound are both solid, but again far from anything worth talking about.
The game does excel in one way: marketing. I've never seen so much product placement in one game, from billboard lined streets, to name-brand fast food restaurants to a well-known cell phone interface; this game is the master at selling everything but itself.
If you're just a fan of console racing, then Underground 2 isn't for you. If you're a gear-head into the street scene that is willing to put up with a lot of play to get to the good stuff, then pick this bad boy up.