About a month ago I picked up Need for Speed: Underground Rivals for the PSP. The Need for Speed series has been around for a while, but this was my first time playing any NFS-type game, so I didn’t really know what to expect. The game focuses on the underground “tuner” scene. If you ever saw The Fast and the Furious, then you have a basic idea of the concept: Take normal stock, or import cars, and tune the heck out of it them for maximum speed. Oh, and adds lot of disgusting neon to them.
Now - I like racing games. But I wasn’t so sure about this one. The whole idea of taking a “POS” Ford and tuning it, slapping decals on it, glowing neon, and racing, seemed just a tiny bit silly. But I have to say it comes off nicely.
The game has various racing modes, including your typical races, drag races (simple, but a heck of a lot of fun), timed races, drifting, as well as a few others. As you progress, you earn money which can be applied to adding various parts to your car. You also unlock various graphical touches, like the decals and neon lights I mentioned above.
Now - as I said - neon and green-tinted windshield in real life - stupid. Neon and green-tined windshield on a PSP - for some reason pretty cool. In fact, I liked designing my car a heck of a lot more in Underground Rivals than I did in Forza Motorsport. It was simpler, quicker, and just plain neater.
Graphically, however, the game is only so-so. I’m not sure why - but racing games that only occur at night always seem to suffer in the graphics department. I wouldn’t say the graphics are bad, just nothing too interesting.
The sound is also uninspired, and the licensed music, while nice, really isn’t my style. (Although the Paul Van Dyke and Snoop Dog tunes are pretty nice.)
All in all, Need for Speed: Underground Rivals is a decent, if not awe-inspiring racer for the PSP. It will be interesting to compare this to Midnight Club and Gran Turismo once they come out.