TGS 2008: Need for Speed Undercover Updated Hands-On

Amid the talking animals and maid outfits of TGS, we spend a few moments of respite with EA's upcoming high-speed action game.

TOKYO--Among all the obscure role-playing games and horse-racing sims that can easily be found on the show floor of the 2008 Tokyo Game Show, it's a refreshing change of pace to find Need for Speed: Undercover at the EA booth. Here's a game that doesn't feature angel-winged schoolchildren armed with swords the size of cellular signal towers, and there's not a talking anthropomorphisized bat anywhere to be found (at least that we know of). We spent some time with an updated build of Need for Speed Undercover to see how it's coming along ahead of its November release.

You've probably heard by now that Undercover will take place in the fictional Tri-City Bay, with several distinct districts to drive in, covering everything from tight inner-city urban environments to twisting mountain runs. The game will have more than 80 miles of drivable road to it, including a massive highway that encircles the entire playable area. EA reps told us that if you're driving the fastest car in the game, it will take you eight minutes to do a full lap of the highway system in Undercover. Add to that tons of streets and shortcuts, and you've got a lot of asphalt to explore in the game.

We tried two events in this updated build of the game: a standard highway battle that we've seen several times before and a much more interesting delivery challenge, driving one of the hottest cars in the game, the McLaren F1. Apart from the fun of trying to come to grips with the McLaren's ludicrous amount of power, the mission--which required us to try to get the car from one side of Tri-City to the other--was made all the more intense by the absolutely insane police presence.

As we found out, this particular mission is one of the final missions in the game, which explains the psychotic police behavior--running into us at full speed, setting up police barriers to try to spin us around and break up our momentum, and doing everything (except perhaps the logical thing of trying to shoot out our tires) they could to put a damper on our delivery.

A minimap in the corner of the screen shows a dynamic path to get to your destination, and if you miss a turn (as we did several times), the map will automatically adjust itself to find a new route. One weapon we had in our arsenal was a pursuit breaker--a set location near an overhang on the highway that, when struck, would bring down a massive block of cement, blocking the course of the pursuing police. Despite nailing the pursuit breaker and losing the fuzz, we weren't able to deliver the car in time. Nonetheless, we had a good time in our abject failure.

By the end of our mission attempt, the McLaren we drove was reduced to jalopy status by our sloppy driving, and though EA said it will be impossible to "kill" your car in Underground, certain missions will take damage more seriously than others. For example, in a variation on the delivery challenge, you'll be asked to bring a car to a client in pristine condition--and any scratches you put on that coat of paint will cost you.

Though EA reps made a big deal out of the so-called Heroic Driving engine that looks to power Undercover, it doesn't seem to be much more than a fixed camera in third-person view. For example, when you pull the hand brake at high speeds and pull off a 180-degree turn, the camera will stay fixed in position, not swing around to follow you. It's not clear if there are other opportunities in Undercover to make the Heroic Driving engine more...well, heroic, but we're eager to learn more. One other tidbit about the game camera: As it stands now, the game will automatically default to a first-person view during the highway challenges, though you will be able to switch back out to third-person view if you prefer to do so.

In all, Undercover looks like it's coming along fine, and we enjoyed taking it for a spin before heading back into the TGS world of booth babes dressed like Victorian maids and game mascots that, when observed more closely, were people dressed as huge human thumbs wearing cowboy hats.

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Discussion

53 comments
Aka_Oni
Aka_Oni

Oh yeah I can't wait until I can get my hands on this. The story sounds bland, but that'll change when cruising at 150 making fools out of the cops. Hell yeah.

DaveA6489
DaveA6489

@1940-1973 Last I heard about release date is 17/11/08. I hope it stays at that as I have this on pre-order :)

DaveA6489
DaveA6489

@ace62394 NFS has had free roam since Underground 2. Only exception is Prosleep. Prosleep had car damage which actually had an effect on your car's performance. Car damage before that was cosmetic stuff i.e. smashed windscreen etc.

malstromthebrut
malstromthebrut

Well I am glad that they are continuing the NFS each one of the games has a highlight that makes the game i am siked what this one will have!!!

hotrider12
hotrider12

@ SJ_NEHAMA prabaly not have drifting. it was cool on underground Im still playing that game today.

sj_nehama
sj_nehama

does this game has drift races? that is what was missing from mw

ranbir_flame
ranbir_flame

pro street was a downer, i hope this brings nfs back on track.

hotrider12
hotrider12

road challenge would be great as well (high stakes 2)

1940-1973
1940-1973

Hi for all. next ... I'm in qatar ,but I want this game cause I love it ,but when this game well release?

Kabaampje444
Kabaampje444

true, but I am still hoping, that EA would create a NFS like the old ones; NFS High stakes/ road challenge (hometown, red rock rigde etc.)

Takehada
Takehada

I agree with the person below me. If this one is anything like NFS: Pro Street, then I'll be thoroughly pissed. This one better be nice.

gamer082009
gamer082009

Hopefully this game will recapture the days of the first few need for speeds, but I doubt that. I hope this one puts more focus to the police chases as those have always made this series amazing.

Jimmik-N
Jimmik-N

ace62394 yes there's damage and free roam - FINALLY! I also agree with GIF lol. Dependant on bank funds I will probably get this :)

ace62394
ace62394

So now NFS is going to have freeroaming and car damage!?

Spartan-1137
Spartan-1137

I really hope that they bring back drag races and drifts. Those are my strong points, thats not all of them of course but those are what I like to do. And please have the new skyline gtr in the game.....

hotrider12
hotrider12

I agree with you GIF we need instant replay on all nfs games. sometimes their is that magic moment we need to see again

GIF
GIF

I wonder if you can view replays? This is one of the single things absent from Most Wanted, ProStreet and Carbon

afrosud12
afrosud12

the last NFS game that genuinly grabbed my attention when playing was underground 2, which was amazing if you look back at it, it had everything you wanted in an NFS game apart from a more diverse car list but other than that it was pretty much the second best NFS game made - hot pursuit 2 is the best, no questions asked

iboo01
iboo01

yh burnout is King

Kennybob
Kennybob

idk..... i've always enjoyed burnout better than nfs... but hopefully this turns out good cause i did enjoy most wanted :)

Anteraan
Anteraan

At one time, NFS releases were a must-buy. Hot Pursuit and High Stakes were outstanding, and I really enjoyed Most Wanted, but the rest have been awful. Sadly, the NFS series has turned into a "rent it first" series. I hope this is good. BTW, great commentary on Japanese gaming. There were many hilarious lines, but "angel-winged schoolchildren armed with swords the size of cellular signal towers" takes the cake. Thanks for the humor. It's refreshing.

FatalFist
FatalFist

proStreeet was worthless...taking OUT everything i lked in the NFS series...insane speed and the Hot Pursuits=c....hoping this undoes the damage=D

firehawk998
firehawk998

I hope this game doesnt end up like Pro-Street. Many ppl will remember the amount of Hype Pro-Street got before launch and when ppl actually played the game it sucked. One thing EA is good at is making a lot of Hype before a game gets released and making a huge mess of the game recent example SPORE, Fifa Street 3, etc but on rare occassions they make excellent games like crysis and i really hope this game is one of them.

Zandan
Zandan

It will be crap again, like the last 4-5 versions of the game. Gamespot is once again making advertisement - we did that mission, it was so cool, it has this, it has that. Where I've read that ?! Oh yeah, in the last years preview... The NFS series are lost long time ago, but the strong marketing campaign every year, makes you by a box with NFS title on it, even it's empty from inside.

samra3feb
samra3feb

just to let you know guys... PIONEER IS MAKING A 500 GB BD!!! ( BLU-RAY DISC )

Pete5506
Pete5506

I hope this game turns out good

stan105
stan105

looks kinda like most wanted and DOES NOT LOOK ANYTHING LIKE PROSTREET so just as H U R D said melvinvth, get your facts straight sheesh

happy666
happy666

i just got a bad feeling abou this one hope its gd

dmbdissr27
dmbdissr27

i cant wait for this game, its gonna be so sweet!!!!!!!!!!!

JWork04
JWork04

speed breaker is bakk my friend.

macrules_640
macrules_640

Good to see Pursuit Breakers back, but will Speed Break make a return as well?

H_U_R_D
H_U_R_D

melvinvth.....this game is absolutely nothing like ProStreet, get your facts straight pal

hotrider12
hotrider12

just cant get into the hype on this game

Dark_Altron
Dark_Altron

As long as Undercover gets back a lot of flavor of Most Wanted with the complexity of Pro Street, EA has got a winner in my opinion.

msudude211
msudude211

Typo... not Underground, but Undercover.

melvinvth
melvinvth

nfs undercover looks alot like pro street. I think it won't be anything special.

DaveA6489
DaveA6489

Looks good... Btw Blaiyze1, a McLaren F1 one isn't a Formula 1 car... it's just a flashy name. Lol.

metalkid9
metalkid9

I think he made a typo: "..."kill" your car in Underground,...", he means Undercover.

GSgirl
GSgirl

Another light of hope. Please god, make this worthy