Beyond its brassy sense of style, Need for Speed Undercover wrecks years of solid racing by introducing derivative and deficient driving mechanics that has the series fitfully spinning its wheels.

Need for Speed Undercover: Running On Fumes

As a detective working with the Tri-City Bay Area police, Need for Speed Undercover puts you deep in an operation to route out a link between a local street racing syndicate and arms smuggling ring.

The sprawling urban area serves as one gigantic raceway, allowing you to roam the streets and highways in search of events. You're encouraged to fit in with these cool criminals by winning challenges, destroying public property, and generally sticking it to the cops.

But pulling off asphalt heroics is made difficult by the introduction of the Heroic Driving Engine, which replaces the tight controls and responsive handling of previous installments for a set of decent yet poorly executed driving mechanics. The series' fine balance between arcade and simulation has been completely blown to smithereens.

Also, events such as "Cost To State" which emphasise crash-and-bash tactics over slick driving makes the game feel derivative of titles like Burnout and highlights just how inferior Need for Speed has become when racing head-to-head against the competition.

Need for Speed Undercover: Call The Tow Truck

It's clear that the Need For Speed series is in need of a GPS unit so it can get back on track. It should go back to doing what it did best: where are all the cool, varied events? Where's the fine-tuned handling? Where's the intuitive vehicle customisation and tuning?

Undercover fails to deliver the fundamental concepts that made the franchise enjoyable, relying instead on slick production values and a trumped up sense of style. Need for Speed Undercover does a good job of rewarding your skillful driving and there are plenty of options for people who want to venture online but this franchise has clearly driven itself off the side of the road. Hopefully, it'll find its way its way back in time for the next installment.

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Need for Speed Undercover: Specs

  • Sony PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable
  • Microsoft Xbox 360
  • Nintendo Wii, DS
  • Windows PC
  • Sony PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable
  • Microsoft Xbox 360
  • Nintendo Wii, DS
  • Windows PC

OUR VERDICT

Mediocre racing and tacky styling leave Need for Speed Undercover stuck in neutral, gunning its engine while going absolutely nowhere. While a long campaign mode and intriguing new experience system get the pistons pumping, everything grinds to a halt when the rubber hits the road in the worst installment of the series in recent memory. It's the video game equivalent of test driving a brand new Lamborghini only to have the engine overheat and the tires go flat as soon as you get on the freeway.

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