Race events take place only at night and players cannot access freeroam. Tuning is a major factor in gameplay; to unlock more, both performance and visual parts, players need to collect 'upgrade points'.
Players can either play both Underground Mode (Career) and Quick Race. The Underground Mode can be played in four difficulties. Statistics are viewable in the Driver Status screen in My Underground.
- Circuit Race - This mode is divided in four class: Master, Novice, Pro and Car Spec. The first three are merely race events with horsepower restrictions, while Car Spec allows only compulsory cars to take part in particular events.
- Drag Race - In a long straight, players accelerate their car up to max speed. This mode is only playable with manual transmission.
- Drift Attack - Players have to drift on several markers, that are placed on the ground. Winner is the one, that collected most drift points.
- Lap Knockout Race - Any player that completes a lap in last place will be eliminated. This goes on until one is left.
- Nitrous Run - To win the race, players need to get from one checkpoint (called gate) to another. By passing through a gate, time and nitrous will be added.
- Street Cross - Racers will drive in a narrow indoor circuits containing 90° and 180° curves mostly. Street Cross is greatly based on Street X.
- Rally Relay - Players drive two laps around a circuit. After completing the first lap, the player has to swap her/his vehicle.
Players don't get any benefits for customising their car visually as there's no Star Rating. Visual parts don't come separate, but in bodykit sets only. However, players can now write their own lettering and put them on the windscreen, backlight and bonnet.
Most important are performance mods, with which players can modify acceleration, top speed and handling. Any car in this game can be upgraded to be very competitive to even the strongest production cars. After purchasing a performance part, players can install it in other vehicles without re-purchasing.
The soundtrack retains the same songs featured in Need for Speed: Underground 2 as well as five new songs.
- The Donots - We Got The Noise
- No Warning - Breeding Insanity
- DJ Tiesto - Breda 8pm (DJ Montana Edit)
- My Chemical Romance - Thank You For The Venom
- Hot Water Music - The End Of The Line
- The Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS releases of Underground 2 use similar gameplay mechanics as seen in Underground Rivals.
|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|