Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. 100
    One main feature that clearly separates Underground from other street racers is its visual presentation. The nighttime glow in the metropolis does take some time to get used to, but the evening air quickly adds to the stunning scenery and detailed avenues as you travel at high RPMs.
  2. With online play, a great assortment of well-known tuner cars, a killer soundtrack, and some addictive gameplay, Need for Speed: Underground blows the doors off other racers. It gets my vote for racing game of the year, easy. [Dec 2003, p.126]
  3. The very best in it’s class, paying close attention to the culture in which the game is tailored after, and offering great gameplay to back up the gorgeous graphics and thousands of upgrades for the hoarder in you.
  4. 91
    One of the most entertaining racing experiences ever, as was expected. Racing underground has been done before, but this game does it right. If you liked other NFS games, you will definitely love this installment.
  5. Pulling it all together is razor-sharp presentation, incredible city construction and track design, and a use of sound and mixed tunes that is unrivaled in the genre; praise to EA for bypassing the numbing of ill-placed techno. [Dec 2003, p.62]
  6. Combining the reckless, breakneck speed and high-impact collisions of "Burnout" with the neon-tipped street culture of Fast and the Furious (and, more specifically, "Midnight Club II"), Underground is the new definition of white-knuckle.
  7. One of the best arcade racers to come along in years. Developer EA Black Box did an incredible job simulating speed, adding a slew of upgrade options and provided a nice (if slightly minimal) assortment of race-worthy cars.
  8. 90
    A fantastic racer for those that want tons of cool customizations and huge single-player challenges, but gamers looking for a more traditional arcade racer might need to approach NFSU with the following in mind -- it's tons of fun, it looks amazing, and it's best on PS2, but be prepared to witness a perceptive lack of variety, and one huge-ass single-player challenge.
  9. Not only does it have 20 of the hottest cars in the world, but customizing them is half the fun. And you can play this game online, which is a big must for the PS2 right now.
  10. 90
    It's up there on the podium with "Ridge Racer Type 4" and "Daytona USA 2," contending for the title of very best ever.
  11. That break-the-mold game that longtime players of the franchise have been waiting for. And if you're already a street-rag reader, you have permission and reason to drool - just keep it off the AirFlow controller, please.
  12. It's gorgeous. Without a shadow of a doubt, it's the best-looking game on the system—it's a case study in how to portray the speed and ferocity of racing.
  13. 89
    But the real kicker here, and the focus of the whole experience, is customizing your ride. If you're not into that element, don't go out and try to buy this as a stand-alone racer. You really have to be dedicated to the car creation, and you have to have the patience for it.
  14. Far and away, the best feature of the PS2 version of NFSU is its online ability. Being able to play this game against my friends is not only superb but puts it at a whole new level.
  15. Performance, of course, is more important than appearance, and Underground boasts better handling than any other arcade racer. It's also faster. [Jan 2004, p.118]
  16. 8 / 8 / 9 / 9 - 34 gold [Vol 785]
  17. There are just too many "other" features in this game that it made it hard for the developers to create the thing that mattered most: a truly exhilarating sense of speed. Graphically the game does that. But physically it does not.
  18. 85
    Not only does it have 20 of the hottest cars in the world, but customizing them is THE game.
  19. 85
    Underground is not perfect – but for a game with such a fairly short development cycle it certainly does put on a fantastic show.
  20. Playing NFSUG is like driving through the West End at midnight wearing Vaseline smeared sunglasses. Quite how a game can look both polished and blocky is beyond us, but that's exactly what EA has managed here.
  21. Arcade racing taken to the extreme with bags of variety, modes and upgrades. If only you could explore more of the town... [GamesMaster]
  22. Engine ups and nitrous tanks unlock automatically, but hustling style points by drifting around corners, landing jumps, and narrowly missing Sunday drivers allows an almost infinite combination of superficial customizations.
  23. Good control, good courses, great customization options. This game is a tuner's dream come true, and one of PS2's better racers overall. [Holiday 2003, p.22]
  24. Great. With just a bit more variety to its tracks and a slightly better career mode, it definitely could have been better, but it has great graphics, solid sound, and the sort of easy learning curve that makes it a driving game that anyone can excel at.
  25. Lacks soul or a reason for being other than cashing on a popular trend. Black Box’s follow-up to "NFS: Hot Pursuit 2" goes through its racing, style, licensing and online motions with a mechanical predictability that wasn’t present in either "Burnout 2" or "Midnight Club II." It’s still a top-notch arcade racer, but there’s definite room for both improvement.
  26. The racing action is undeniably fast and, ahem, furious, and Need for Speed performs competently in this little niche market, but it's gameplay scope is ultimately narrowed by it as well.
  27. The racing itself is fun, if not sometimes a little irritating, the graphics are incredible and the game has a highly suitable soundtrack that fits the atmosphere perfectly.
  28. 80
    On the downside, deep as peripheral options are, the title doesn't feel like much of a step forward from its predecessor, "Hot Pursuit 2."
  29. Customization is the main attractor for games of this style, and Underground seems to have taken this aspect to a completely new level. Each and every part that can be bolted on is officially licensed from the manufacturer.
  30. An uneven mixture of gorgeous graphics, upgradeable street racing vehicles, variety of race modes, unique customization, lack of opposition, repetitive tracks, and no law enforcement presence... Involving and fun, although not quite as engrossing as "NFS:HP2."
  31. Beautifully detailed with impressive lighting, accurately modelled protagonists and a terrific sense of speed. A refreshing and captivating direction for the series. [Christmas 2003, p.115]
  32. While it does its best to be an amalgam of all the best street racing games - and is certainly one of the best looking - it fails to haul itself onto the top of the podium by virtue of not enough variety, no new ideas and a few too many minor irritations that take the gloss off the final package.
  33. Boy racers will love Underground's edgy urban chic, otherwise you should stick with the less fashionable but ultimately more enjoyable "Burnout 2." [Christmas 2003, p.125]
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 146 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 83 out of 90
  2. Negative: 6 out of 90
  1. Oct 3, 2010
    This game brought a breath of fresh air to the series and the whole genre. If only the game had a bit more polish and better customization of cars it would have had a chance to be something really really good, but has it stands it's just good haha. Full Review »
  2. RamsesD.
    Jan 3, 2004
    These games is the best game ever!!because i street race and it feels just like that.i dive an integra so thats my car.and midnight club 2 could suck my dick because u cant put your car how u want it in midnight clube 2 so if u dont know now u know forshow. Full Review »
  3. Adrian
    Dec 4, 2003
    Ben n. wtf do u know about street racing. midnight club is sh.t n is the least realistic game out. if u want a real street racing game then get this its definitely worth the money. Full Review »