|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PC, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA BlackBox||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 18, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (8 Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The A.I. toggles between the criminally insane and miraculously gifted. Oncoming traffic will not be the least bit intimidated by your presence. In fact, it's like you're invisible to them. If you don't get out of their way, you're going to crash, plain and simple. Even your direct A.I. competitors aren't immune to the murderous A.I., as they will often enter into head-on collisions as both are too stupid or stubborn to get out of each other's way.
A.I. opponents trying to catch you, whether it is the cops or other racers, will be able to miraculously outrun you if they lag too far behind. It's as though the CPU senses that it's behind and brings the cars closer trying to make things more exciting. Not only will they be able to outrun you with equally-powered vehicles, but they will be able to negotiate turns much smoother. It's unfair, unbalanced, and unprofessional.
It would be nice if you could explore the city in some kind of free cruise mode. Some modes see the city unlocked, but you have to be racing through it. It's as though the developers didn't want you getting too close a look at it, since it's a little difficult to discern detail at over 300 mph. While we're on the subject of speed, the only thing that is impressive is just how fast this game goes downhill. There really isn't any sense of speed after 100 mph. Graphically, the game has a generic look to it with a lot of bland earth tones and jaggy textures. The map is located to the left and the speedometer to the right. Neither interferes with the course, and the PSP affords a good, wide perspective. The tracks have a certain sameness to them, not only in appearance but in content. They are very basic in design with virtually no background animation to give life to the streets. It's like racing on a movie set instead of a real city.
The engine sounds are good and the music is even better, but due to the lack of voiceovers and ambient music, the game is filled with lots of uncomfortable dead air. Underground fails to live up to its heritage. I would expect this on the DS but not on the PSP. Leave this one on the side of the road.
CCC Senior Writer