Need for Speed Underground E3 2003 Preshow Report

The latest Need for Speed will focus on the world of illegal street racing.

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Electronic Arts will no longer travel the straight and narrow with the next iteration of its popular Need for Speed series. Titled Underground, the game will take place in the seedy underworld of illegal street racing, and it'll let you create and customize your own ride so you can compete against the fastest racers around. Underground will feature 20 licensed cars that you can fully customize from manufacturers such as Toyota, Subaru, and Mitsubishi. The game should appeal to hard-core automotive gearheads, as it offers a huge amount of customization options. Parts and upgrades will be available from AEM, Eibach, Injen, Nitrous Express, StreetGlow, Turbonetics, and many more.

As you'd expect, Need for Speed Underground will offer several diverse gameplay modes. Street racing works exactly as it sounds--you'll compete against several other street racers as you try to find the fastest possible route through an open city course. You'll have to use your wits and your machine to navigate the streets, which of course aren't designed with racing in mind. Drag racing will test the prowess of your upgrading skill, as it pits you against three other racers to see whose car is simply the fastest at traveling in a straight line.

EA says that more than 100 unique racing events will be available in Underground, and you'll be able to increase both your wealth and your reputation by winning them. Interestingly, the development team now boasts an Oscar-nominated visual effects expert, so this individual's contribution to the game should be something to watch for. The game will feature four-player online support on the PlayStation 2 (broadband only) and the PC. Oddly, no multiplayer details have been provided about the Xbox and GameCube versions. A Game Boy Advance version of Need for Speed Underground is also in development, and all versions are currently slated for an early 2004 release. We'll bring you more information on all versions of the game as it becomes available.

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