This latest incarnation of Need for Speed harks back to Need for Speed: Most Wanted, as it’s replete with cop chases and outlandish races.
You play an undercover agent who must infiltrate a gang of street racers to bust their smuggling activities – a plot straight from The Fast and the Furious. Sadly, Undercover falls flat, with repetitive cut-scenes that fail to tie-in closely with your racing antics.
There’s no getting away from the fact that – unlike in GTA IV – all you can do is race. You’re not involved in stealing a hot ride, for example – you merely join the action when the car is ready to be driven away. You’re supposed to keep the car in pristine condition, but we delivered several wrecks without consequence.
This is one of Undercover’s problems: it’s too laid back. Most races are far too easy and the cars aren’t challenging to drive. You can tune your car’s performance, but there’s little point, as you can win most races with the bog-standard Nissan 240SX you start with. There are no pedestrians to avoid, and there’s precious little in the way of traffic. On the odd occasion that you encounter some, you can switch to a slow motion mode to ease past.
Our main gripe, though, is that there’s no reason to drive around the city, and so the open-world design is wasted. You can’t get to races or your garage by driving to them – you simply hit Tab to start the next race, or view the map and jump to an event from there.
There’s one new race type, which involves staying ahead of a competitor for a minute, and a new event in which you have to ram your opponent to ‘take them down’. Multiplayer is unoriginal, too, but at least the cops ‘n’ robbers mode (a variant on capture the flag) is enjoyable. Ultimately, Undercover will appeal to casual racers, but racing enthusiasts should steer well clear.