Need for Speed: Undercover

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Need for Speed: Undercover
Most Wanted and Carbon, except it looks quite worse
Genre(s): Racing
Platform(s): Microsoft Windows
Nintendo DS
PlayStation 2
PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
PlayStation Portable
Release: NA: November 18, 2008
AU: November 20, 2008
EU: November 21, 2008
Engine: Speed
EAGL 4.0 (graphics)
Havok (physics)
Developer(s): EA Black Box
Exient Entertainment (PS2/Wii)
Firebrand Games (DS)
Piranha Games (PSP)
Publisher(s): Electronic Arts
Series: Need for Speed
Predecessor: Need for Speed: ProStreet
Successor: Need for Speed: Shift

Need for Speed: Undercover is a racing video game, the twelfth installment of the Need for Speed series. It was released worldwide in November 2008. This is the last Need for Speed game to be released on the PlayStation 2.

This page only covers versions developed by EA Black Box and Exient Entertainment.

Bad Qualities

Black Box-developed versions

  1. Sometime around 2007, EA split Black Box into three teams, (one to develop Undercover, another to develop ProStreet (which EA needed to also make a filler game for 2007), and one to develop the Skate series) which caused problems for development and likely lead to elements and certain cars having to be left out due to the development time. In other words, NFS Undercover was extremely rushed. This is also covered by the fact that EA wanted a yearly Need for Speed game to be released every November and a lot of early concepts not making it into the final game.
  2. Unusual difficulty spike: you start with ridiculously easy gameplay, then it ends with a nonsensical difficulty where everyone outruns you, even if you use your NOS to get a boost, the AI gets faster and faster until their cars crash. It also gets worse in the patched versions where they are buffed to oblivion!
    • Speaking of AI, they are extremely stupid when they're not racing. First, the cops are notably weaker than in previous games such as Most Wanted (2005). Also their spawn rate is so low (1 upon 60 or even more seconds) that you will actually fail pursuit events for this, making the chases repetitive, boring, and frustrating. Then there are slow and confused-as-hell racer/thug AI in job missions that, combined with boring cops, makes these missions very easy.
  3. The graphics are terrible even by 2008 standards with its horrid lighting effects, thanks to the overused bloom and Real Is Brown effect (which is also present on Most Wanted), broken LOD, and the game world being coated in yellow like when it was set after a Tsar bomb explodes far away from Tri-City Bay. (This can be fixed through modding).
  4. Weak story with a number of clichés and cheesy, underwhelming, and untalented acting, even from Maggie Q.
    • Lt. Keller's "Very dangerous!" is so cheesy that it has become a popular meme in the fanbase.
  5. Due to improper physics implementation, driving on an incline doesn't feel any different from driving on a flat surface, if you use the brakes, the car stops very quickly, handling is very floaty and there's no proper weight implementation for any car, meaning you can take down a Rhino SUV very easily with a Lotus Elise 111R!
  6. The heat level system is broken. The police response and tactics depend not on your heat level, but your wheelman (i.e. reputation) level, unlike in Most Wanted and Carbon, where the police sends faster cars and uses more dangerous tactics to stop you if you have a high heat level. This means you can have Civic Cruisers chasing after you even at condition 5, or have federal Porsches chasing you with roadblocks and spike strips as low as condition 1.
    • The heat level is also locked to certain pursuit events.
  7. Unlike this game's predecessors, game moment cutscenes can't be turned off (or at least not without mods). It's unavoidable when the AI drives you into spikes upon activation.
    • At least popped tires can be fixed with a glitch by turning off car damage in the pause menu and then turning it back on again.
  8. The patched PC port suffers from random frame drops, even on a powerful machine. (You can partly fix it using the Task Manager in the Information tab by telling it to not use CPU 0.)
  9. Underwhelming landscape. Tri-City Bay, which is based on Miami, Florida, is just a small city (Palm Harbor, Sunset Hills, Gold Coast Mountains, and Port Crescent), not a big city compared to Palmont (from Carbon) which was a very large-scale city. Speaking of Palm Harbor, this borough is just an empty shell of an island but in city form. The so-called "bigger map" is actually stacked up by tons of tedious highways.
    • The PSP port is nothing but a reskin of previous games and it reuses portions from Most Wanted (2005)'s Rockport City and Carbon's Palmont City. The same applies to the PS2 and Wii ports, albeit being slightly better but still far from perfect. The PSP version doesn't even have free-roam, something which (astonishingly enough) the DS version had!
  10. Some cars are quite overpowered such as the Nissan 370Z (Z34) (which was over-advertised in some of the trailers), as that can compete with Tier 1 cars including the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 and McLaren F1! Maybe, in a similar manner to PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, this certain car was buffed to oblivion because of one thing, in-game advertising.
  11. Most all-wheel drive cars accelerate poorly even when fully upgraded, especially the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX MR-edition, Audi S5 (B8), and even the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 (the Gallardo because of its upgraded drivetrain and tires being worse than the stock versions, as the car uses wrong "differential" values for both stock and upgraded versions).
  12. The PlayStation 3 version suffers from framerate drops, especially when activating a Pursuit Breaker.
  13. Certain cars (eg. Nissan 350Z (Z33), Chrysler 300C SRT-8, Subaru Impreza WRX STI (GDB-F)) were cut due to time constraints.
    • Some later files also discovered that certain cars such as the Aston Martin DBS, Lamborghini Reventon and Saleen S7 Twin Turbo were also planned for the game, but did not make it due to rushing the game to the last quarter of 2008.
  14. Some cars can only be driven if the player has the Collector's Edition of the game, which is unpurchasable for PC players due to changes on Need for Speed's official website long ago. By default, these cars are only drivable in Quick Race mode.
    • They can attain these cars on that game platform by falsifying or removing those cars' IsCollectorEdition field via NFS-VLTEd. Also, these cars have hidden prices and unlock conditions, which are removed when the Collector's Edition is bought.

Exient Entertainment-developed versions

  1. It is basically a reskin of Need for Speed: Carbon's PS2/Wii versions.
  2. Rubberband AI is significantly worse than Black Box's version, as well as their previous games such as Underground. Job racers remain stupid, though.
  3. While the cops' AI is still dumb, they are now literally EVERYWHERE. Losing them is just as hard as getting busted, making cop chases stupidly exhausting.
    • On the topic of cop chases, some of the hiding spots are glitched, as they can either have inconsistent collision or be located out of the map's boundaries.
  4. Similar to the PS3 version, these versions suffer from framerate issues.
  5. The navigation system is just a reused asset from the other NFS games as it leads to incorrect locations that have invisible walls.

Good Qualities

  1. It returns to the illegal street racing formula that ProStreet lacked.
  2. At least it is open world, unlike The Run. And even better, all boroughs are always accessible at the very beginning.
  3. Expanded customization, featuring the improved Autosculpt.
    • However, due to the development time, window tinting, roof scoops, and O.Z. Racing rims are gone. The latter of which is due to licensing issues, and is replaced by rims from Arelli and Savini. And that issue is fine to some people with taste, as they don't want to modify their cars to a hideous state.
  4. The sound design and damage models are pretty good, despite a portion of them being recycled from ProStreet (such as the nitrous firing sound).
  5. Despite being very stupid in-game, the cops' portrayal does become much better. Free roam cop radio channels are much more organic, ranging from casual chit-chats, random neighborhood cases, bank robberies to even a Ryan Cooper (ProStreet's protagonist) easter egg. The busted cutscenes are much more designed and lively, despite showing some unnecessary police brutality.
  6. Very good licensed soundtrack such as Nine Inch Nails' "The Mark Has Been Made" and Pendulum's "The Tempest", combined with great original soundtrack by Paul Haslinger such as the pursuit music, which was also reused in World.
  7. There are pink slips in which you'll be able to obtain a car of your choice at no charge (PS3, X360 and PC versions). Unfortunately, the pink slips are just stock versions of the opponents' cars, and the fourth pink slip offer gives out only Tier 2 (high level) stock cars, instead of the Tier 1 cars you stole for G-Mac.
  8. The PS2 and Wii versions are better than the other versions, despite suffering from the issues listed above.
    • It is by far, the most decent reskin in the series. You could tell that it's a reskin of MW and Carbon, but look how they make the map look a lot different from the games that they base their game on.
      • In fact, they include features that are absent from other versions, such as the ability to participate in pursuits as an actual police officer.
        • It also restores some of the missing bodykits that were in Most Wanted (2005) but not in Carbon.
  9. Fan mods exist to improve the handling and graphics in order to make the game more enjoyable, such as Undercover Visual Enhancement, which improves the game's graphics by a very good margin as well as the time cycles and skydomes, Project Reformed, which adds several new cars to the game (now degraded to a mod that simply restores the unused cars due to "maximum playability"), and Undercover Exposed, which adds a lot of new content, such as new visuals, extended customization for certain cars, a new camera that gives a lot of sense of speed, restored O.Z. Racing rims, and new cars such as the Honda NS-X Type R (NA1), the Mazda MX-5 (ND) and the Lexus LFA.


Need For Speed: Undercover received mixed reviews. The game has a Metacritic score of 65 for the PC, 64 for the Xbox 360, and 59 for PlayStation 3 versions. Many fans of the series, to this day, while ProStreet is often seen as the worst Need for Speed game ever made, it's considered the weakest entry of them all and the one that truly started the downfall of the franchise. Many other underwhelming entries soon followed with Most Wanted 2012 and the reboot. The game is also one of KuruHS' (a Twitch streamer known for NFS Most Wanted (2005) speedruns) most hated NFS games.



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