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Need for Speed Goes Deep

Five grand.

Welcome to the Tri-City Bay Area.
As much as I enjoyed stuff like Hot Pursuit, the Need for Speed series really came into its own for me with Need for Speed: Most Wanted. The open-world format and the cop-baiting mission structure made for some thrilling gameplay, but apparently what my driving games had been missing all along were really phony, overacted live-action cutscenes. Who knew?

Need for Speed: Carbon was a mostly decent followup, but they lost me completely with Need for Speed: ProStreet. No cops? No hammy acting? No thank you. While I'm told that ProStreet actually did pretty well in Europe, EA Black Box is taking it back to what works with Need for Speed: Undercover, which was shown for the first time at an event in San Francisco last week.

The back story is the stuff of direct-to-DVD action movies, so much so that you probably already know just about everything you need to from the title. You're (surprise!) a deep-cover agent sent to break up a crime syndicate in the Tri-City Bay Area, and Mission Impossible III and Live Free or Die Hard's Maggie Q will play your handler, Federal Agent Chase Linh. From the short clips that EA showed at the event, the production values are up a bit from the Most Wanted days, but the tone seems to be about right. It won't be connected directly to the fiction of Most Wanted or Carbon, though, and it sounds like the chances of a Razor Callahan cameo are slim.

What you can expect is all manner of open-road chaos, both with the cops and the criminals, as well as denser traffic and smarter cops. The game will feature a ton of licensed vehicles, and while EA hasn't yet revealed the full line-up, they're already showing off cars from Audi, BMW, Mitsubishi, and Lexus. You'll also be able to customize the hell out of your whip with aftermarket parts, and the game will feature a similar body sculpting system as seen in the past few Need for Speed games. You'll also be able to put some serious dents in that pricey bodywork when you're on the road, though any damage you see will be purely cosmetic.

He's probably just got a busted tail light.
I had a chance to play around a little bit with one of the new race types in Undercover, the highway battle. The format's the same as the drift battles from Carbon, putting you in a head-to-head race where victory is had by putting a certain amount of distance between yourself and your competitor. Weaving through traffic and nudging other cars to block your opponent's path is pretty fun, and a dynamic, percussion-heavy original score definitely upped the ante on the action-movie feel. You can also expect to hear some licensed music in the game as well, though EA's not naming names just yet.

The game itself is still several months away from completion, so I was able to excuse the game's choppy frame rate, but beyond that it's already looking pretty sharp. Between the causeways perched over the waters of the bay and the slightly over-saturated colors, the game gives off a real strong CSI: Miami vibe. Whether that's intentional or not, I'm feeling it.

The cogent, intellectual part of my brain knows that Undercover will be neither be best nor the most ambitious game to come out this year, but I couldn't be more excited for its promising blend of high-speed thrills and silly live-action theatrics. November 18th can't get here fast enough.

  


37 Comments
Posted by Ryan
Welcome to the Tri-City Bay Area.
As much as I enjoyed stuff like Hot Pursuit, the Need for Speed series really came into its own for me with Need for Speed: Most Wanted. The open-world format and the cop-baiting mission structure made for some thrilling gameplay, but apparently what my driving games had been missing all along were really phony, overacted live-action cutscenes. Who knew?

Need for Speed: Carbon was a mostly decent followup, but they lost me completely with Need for Speed: ProStreet. No cops? No hammy acting? No thank you. While I'm told that ProStreet actually did pretty well in Europe, EA Black Box is taking it back to what works with Need for Speed: Undercover, which was shown for the first time at an event in San Francisco last week.

The back story is the stuff of direct-to-DVD action movies, so much so that you probably already know just about everything you need to from the title. You're (surprise!) a deep-cover agent sent to break up a crime syndicate in the Tri-City Bay Area, and Mission Impossible III and Live Free or Die Hard's Maggie Q will play your handler, Federal Agent Chase Linh. From the short clips that EA showed at the event, the production values are up a bit from the Most Wanted days, but the tone seems to be about right. It won't be connected directly to the fiction of Most Wanted or Carbon, though, and it sounds like the chances of a Razor Callahan cameo are slim.

What you can expect is all manner of open-road chaos, both with the cops and the criminals, as well as denser traffic and smarter cops. The game will feature a ton of licensed vehicles, and while EA hasn't yet revealed the full line-up, they're already showing off cars from Audi, BMW, Mitsubishi, and Lexus. You'll also be able to customize the hell out of your whip with aftermarket parts, and the game will feature a similar body sculpting system as seen in the past few Need for Speed games. You'll also be able to put some serious dents in that pricey bodywork when you're on the road, though any damage you see will be purely cosmetic.

He's probably just got a busted tail light.
I had a chance to play around a little bit with one of the new race types in Undercover, the highway battle. The format's the same as the drift battles from Carbon, putting you in a head-to-head race where victory is had by putting a certain amount of distance between yourself and your competitor. Weaving through traffic and nudging other cars to block your opponent's path is pretty fun, and a dynamic, percussion-heavy original score definitely upped the ante on the action-movie feel. You can also expect to hear some licensed music in the game as well, though EA's not naming names just yet.

The game itself is still several months away from completion, so I was able to excuse the game's choppy frame rate, but beyond that it's already looking pretty sharp. Between the causeways perched over the waters of the bay and the slightly over-saturated colors, the game gives off a real strong CSI: Miami vibe. Whether that's intentional or not, I'm feeling it.

The cogent, intellectual part of my brain knows that Undercover will be neither be best nor the most ambitious game to come out this year, but I couldn't be more excited for its promising blend of high-speed thrills and silly live-action theatrics. November 18th can't get here fast enough.

  


Staff
Posted by zitosilva

I hope it really goes back to how Most Wanted was. It's incredible how Need For Speed has the ability to go from "Wow! Can't wait to get this game!" to "Meh, it's just another driving game...".

Posted by CerpinTaxt

Most wanted is the best racing game ive ever played but carbon and Pro street were lame,hopefully this gets the franchise back on track

Posted by joslop500

WTF, is Need for Speed actually trying to have a compelling story?

Posted by Kojacked

You would think that they eventually would have to catch on that their best games are the ones involving police chases.

Posted by MattBodega

I am onboard  1000% with Undercover.
5 Grand. 5 GRAND! Says this game will smoke those clowns.

Posted by manathirst

Finally back to cop chase since Most Wanted, those races better be thrilling in this next iteration.

Posted by ObsideonDarman

I am really hoping for this Game to be even better than Most Wanted because I loved Most Wanted, and this does look promising but HEY so did Carbon and as Ryan put's it, it was "Decent" enough for me to unwillingly Buy it.

Posted by AllanIceman

I hope this game is not just another bolt on wonder boy lookin' to get smoked!

Posted by xruntime

My favorite need for speed was Underground 2. Since then the series has gotten worse and worse.

Posted by roofy

hope its like most wanted

Posted by RandomBullet

Well at least they admitted to totally screwing the NFS franchise with prostreet. Undercover could be a great game to play with the smarter cops,  making the incredibly tense heat 4-5 chases from Most Wanted even better. Hope EA doesn't screw this up.

Posted by Champy

im gonna scatch my keys all over the side of this ride-of-a-game! WHICH MEANS IT LOOKS GUD!

Posted by imayellowfellow

FIIIIVE GRAAAAAND

yessss razor callahan and the old days of the hotspot make me happy

Posted by Ravine

I laughed so hard when i saw the blurb "Five Grand".

I fondly remember being on the bus, listening to that episode on my iPod and just busting out laughing and then subsequently have everybody on the bus stare at me.

Oh the memories....

Posted by insanejedi

Five grand... FIVE GRAND says my game will smoke this clown.

Posted by DondonIcon

five grand...FIVE GRAND!

In Razor We Trust.

Posted by SuperMooseman

I hope this game lives up to expectations.

Posted by TrulyAlive

Never really dug any Need For Speed game, but that guy was actually a pretty cool actor. That plus the fact that I like they're using a sort of older man, not a fresh hot looking young dude, makes it seem a bit like they're almost maturing with the story line.

Posted by reflekshun

hahah wow they got a really good actor for that part, good job. Hopefully the game is actually good too!

Posted by Dejkrigeren

The story sounds a bit like The Fast and the furious, you know cop racing cars to get the bad guys?? Or did i get the story wrong?

Posted by Dante_the_Jedi

Need for speed and a story?!?!?

Anyway lets hope it is a good game.

Posted by kennybaese

Need for Speed is back! ProStreet took away everything I loved about the series when they made it all simulator ish. I like blowing around turns at 300 miles per hour and not really having to use the brakes thank you very much. And the ever awesome cop chases are back!

As for the story, I wouldn't exactly call it "compelling"... I just hope your character isn't supposed to be that old guy in the trailer. But at the same time that would be completely crazy if it was. And thus it would be kinda awesome. Sorta.

Posted by Mooshu

Whats this? Another bolt-on wonderboy looking to get smoked?

Posted by logson

BRIAN O'CONNER, BABY.

Posted by Kowalski

NFS I & II are the only good games of the franchise. After that other franchises took over and EA destroyed theirs.

Posted by PLWolf

I'm finally excited about a Need for Speed game again. woohoo!!

Posted by Boiglenoight

Haven't really invested any time in a NFS title since the first or second game.  They're boring, lack fun arcade controls or simmy physics...EA needs to kick it up a notch and either take a page out of GRID's playbook or plunk some time in a serious simulation.

Posted by Destroyeron

You'd think they'd catch on that their best games, from the beginning of the series, were the ones with cops...

Posted by ZeroCast

Sounds like Most Wanted 2 for me.

Posted by ferrarimanf355

Sorry, but I'm going for Midnight Club LA. Has anyone seen the new trailer with the Audi R8?

Posted by Peter

I couldnt tell if the actor was a CG or real, it was fucked

Posted by JoblessTerence

I stopped caring about NFS after NFS: Hot Pursuit 2 for the PS2.

Posted by Slippery

Ryan was reffering to Canyon battles in Carbon, not Drift battles. (fall too far behind and your out)

It pains me that I know that - at least I got Carbon for free.

Posted by AjayRaz

when I first saw the trailer, it didn't even look like a game..
I wasn't even sure if there was even racing involved anymore!
hopefully this game'll be as good as most wanted, that game was awesome!

Posted by L

ProStreet and Carbon were annoying additions.  This franchise is becoming poorer and poorer.

Posted by TwoOneFive

uhh...


OKAY!