We get the keys to the import version of EA's PSP racer.
The upcoming Need for Speed Underground Rivals is the portable branch of EA's Need for Speed family tree of racers. Although the game is due in just a few short weeks for the PSP's US launch, it was recently released in Japan, and we snagged some copies to see how the promising racer has shaped up. The last time we saw the game, it appeared to be headed in a very promising direction. The game's visuals were looking good, and the audio was sharp. The only sketchy elements were a slightly inconsistent frame rate, rough lighting, and a few lingering issues with the game's control. After having clocked some time with the retail Japanese version, we're pleased to report that almost all of the loose ends we noted have been dealt with.
Before we hit on how the game has shaped up in general, we'll touch on how the rough spots we mentioned have been ironed out. The graphics have been tightened up, resulting in a more stable frame rate, and a few more special effects have been added. The game even does a fair approximation of the crazy camera shake from the console games when you pick up speed. The lighting has been buffed up a bit and looks better. The issues with the game's control have been pretty much cleared up. The handling is much more responsive when using the analog disc than it was in the work-in-progress versions of the game we played.
As far as the gameplay goes, we've tried our hand at just a few of the different modes and are pleased by the sheer amount of stuff there is to do. Above and beyond the career mode, the various single-player quick races are fun, as are the multiplayer Wi-Fi games. The gold crown of victory or the red stamp of shame that you'll earn and wear like a badge of honor or a scarlet letter based on your performance is a nice touch.
We have yet to really tear into all the customization aspects, but what we've seen bodes well and certainly sets the game apart from other portable racers. In some ways, classifying Need for Speed Underground Rivals as a portable game sells it short, as the modes and content are far more comparable to a console game than what you'd normally expect from a handheld game.
Need for Speed Underground Rivals is currently slated to ship later this month at the PSP launch. Until then, look for more impressions from the import version as soon as we earn more cash and get ourselves more cars.
- Player Reviews: 91
- Game Universe:
- Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed (PS, PC, GBA),
- Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 (PS2, PC, GC, XBOX),
- Need for Speed Underground (PS2, XBOX, GC, GBA, PC),
- Need for Speed Underground 2 (XBOX, GC, PS2, GBA, PC, DS, MOBILE),
- Need for Speed Most Wanted (2005) (XBOX, PS2, GC, PSP, PC, X360, DS, GBA, MOBILE),
- Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit (PC, PS),
- Need for Speed: High Stakes (PC, PS),
- Need for Speed II (PC, PS),
- Road & Track Presents: The Need for Speed (PS, SAT),
- Need for Speed Carbon (DS, GBA, XBOX, X360, GC, PS2, PSP, WII, PC, PS3, MAC, ZB)
- Offline Modes:
- Number of Players: