Need for Speed: Underground completely redesigned the series' formula with a heavy emphasis on tuner culture and a storyline-driven career mode. All races take place in a generic city at night featuring vehicles associated with the import scene rather than exotic cars.
The story begins with the player at the centre of the action in a circuit race. They are given a uniquely styled Acura Integra Type R that allows them to easily defeat their opponents but they are suddenly woken up by Samantha who tells them to stop daydreaming.
Samantha is the player's friend in the city. She shows the player how the console with the races works, who's who and makes fun of the player's first car. Eddie is the leader of The Eastsiders and currently the best racer on the streets of Olympic City, he also has a girlfriend - Melissa.
The player meets other racers and eventually gathers a small list of nemesis that continually challenge them. The player is introduced to TJ whom promises unique vehicle upgrades in exchange for beating time trial challenges. Samantha does the same from time to time and offers unique visual modifications instead.
The player's successive victories don't impress Eddie. He mocks the player's skill saying he has a long way to go to 'roll his streets'. The player eventually builds enough hype to be too hard to ignore and forces Eddie to challenge them to beat Samantha in a sprint race before they can go after Eddie.
The player's willingness in going for it infuriates her. Samantha totals her Civic's engine attempting to beat the player. TJ takes the junked car for himself after the event.
Eddie tries to once again get rid of the player as they come close to becoming the best racer in Olympic City. The player also sees TJ in Samantha's recovered car after he fixed it but it has been vandalised.
The player wins a pink slip circuit race for Samantha and gives her the car to make amends. Samantha gives the player a choice of a wide body kit for their car.
Eddie then challenges the player to a race. After the race a mysterious silver Nissan 350Z challenges the player for a last run through the Market Street circuit.
After the players' win, the challenger is revealed to be Melissa. That event solidifies the player's status as the new best underground racer in Olympic City.
- Circuit - A standard race that involves racing of up to four opponents' cars around a looped track for one or more laps.
- Knockout - Similar to Circuit except the last racer to pass the starting line of each lap is "knocked out" until a final racer is left and declared the winner.
- Sprint - A point-to-point course instead of a loop. These races are typically shorter than Circuit events.
- Drift - A point based event involving multiple racers but with only a single racer participating on the course at a time. The winner is the racer with the highest total score upon completing the course. Racers earn points based on how well they can control their vehicles as they slide along the course.
- Drag - Up to four racers part take along a straight line course from A to B. The racer that completes the course with the quickest time is the winner. A racer will fail the event if they collide with traffic or over heat the engine. Only Manual Transmission can be used.
Players have the ability to increase their car’s performance by applying performance upgrades to the car. The player can upgrade their car's engine, drivetrain, suspension, tyres and engine control unit (ECU).
They can also add nitrous oxide and turbo chargers as well as reduce the car’s weight with a "weight reduction package".
Critics generally liked the game despite primary complaints of repetitive tracks, unbalanced rubberband AI, excessive use of random traffic and the lack of any online features for the GameCube and Xbox releases.
IGN gave the game a rating of 8.9 out of 10 for the PlayStation 2 release.
- Need for Speed: Underground, and its successor, are mostly inspired by "The Fast and the Furious" film series.
|Need for Speed Series|
|Games||The Need for Speed • II • III: Hot Pursuit • High Stakes • Porsche Unleashed • Motor City Online • Hot Pursuit 2 • Underground • Underground 2 • Most Wanted (2005) • Carbon • ProStreet • Undercover • Shift • Nitro • World • Hot Pursuit (2010) • Shift 2: Unleashed • The Run • Most Wanted (2012) • Rivals • Need for Speed (2015) • Edge • Need for Speed (2017)|
|Handheld||Underground Rivals • Most Wanted 5-1-0 • Carbon: Own The City • Hot Pursuit (iOS) • No Limits|
|Compilations||The Need for Speed Collection • Collector's Series|
|Films||Need for Speed|