It’s almost the end of another year and each year seems to bring another version of the racing franchise Need For Speed. This new one sees you infiltrating a gang of street racers in order to uncover some organised crime and drug syndicates. Just how racing against them somehow leads to arrests isn’t quite clear. Still, it’s an excuse to race around the city streets and avoid the cops. Even though you’re on their side they don’t know that so there’s another excuse for some high-speed racing and a high probability of losing your no claims bonus.
The game claims to be in an open world format but that’s not really the case. After an initial race from the cops at the start of the game, you’re free to race around the city. We’ll, I say race but there’s no-one actually competing against you and unless the cops find you and start to chase, there’s absolutely no goals to find and no races to stumble across. To get into a race you either hit up on the d-pad to get a map of the city with races available, or hit down to go the nearest race. You’re then faced with a loading screen before the race begins. Unfortunately, even in the races the open world isn’t used. You’re sent down a linear path with a few varied routes but nothing that feels free. Compared to Burnout Paradise this is a huge disappointment.
This being Need For Speed, it isn’t just a case of getting from A to B. Some races are straightforward but there’s also Highway Battle where you must leave a rival in your dust and stay ahead for a certain amount of time or reach a set distance. And of course there are police chases where you can smash through structures to leave carnage for them to crash into.
My other problem with the game is how easy it is. Even if your car isn’t as good as everyone else’s, it’s easy to steam past them and come in first. You then get driver points which up your stats and eventually lead to you buying bigger and more powerful cars. Also, on the PS3 at least, the framerate is appalling. Even playing offline, it plays with the type of lag you’d experience playing online with a bad connection. At high speed, it’s so bad it can make you crash and ejects you completely form the racing experience.
Because I played the Need For Speed Undercover PS3 version, I’m giving marks for the PS3 release only. Unfortunately, Need for Speed Undercover fails to deliver on everything it promises and the terrible framerate means it’s effectively broken so it gets a very bad 3 out of 10.