Mixed or average reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 36
  2. Negative: 1 out of 36
Buy On
  1. 80
    The PSP's analog nub also works well here with just the right balance of sensitivity and full range of motion, from tiny course-correcting nudges to hand over fist power-sliding.
  2. AceGamez
    I just can't help feeling that there are better racers out there however, which offer better controls, better graphics and simply better gameplay.
  3. It doesn’t play quite as well as the two other racing big guns, but it’s easily just as entertaining and probably has the strongest lasting appeal.
  4. The simple tracks and handling might not be all that far removed from NFSU 2, but it's still a game that seems better suited to PSP. If you're after more than the pure thrill of breakneck speed, get this over "Ridge Racer." [PSW]
  5. The racing here is just flat-out fun, with growling engines, jumps and shortcuts that allow you to smash through fences. But there are thoughtful additions, including Party Play.
  6. Electronic Gaming Monthly
    For a game called Rivals, I expected a little more know, maybe some actual characters or confrontations. [May 2005, p.94]
  7. Maybe the shoddy controls won't even bother you. Alternatively, if you're willing to use the d-pad, Rivals is a decent game that has an interesting mix of car customisation, skill-based driving and reasonable speed.
  8. 40
    It just fails to reach the bar set by the best racers on the system, not to mention it doesn't come close to enjoying the level of polish or fun present in the console iterations of Underground.
  9. The unreliable framerate, quirky controls and “rigged” A.I. certainly detract from what this game could have been, but I have to admit I did have a lot of fun.
  10. Game Informer
    As complete a package as one could hope for. [May 2005, p.132]
  11. While Rivals isn’t a perfect racing game, it does manage to fulfill that adrenaline rush that speed junkies crave on a regular basis. With plenty of game modes and tons of upgrades, players will have lots of replayability in their hands.
  12. The graphics in UR betray that this baby was rushed.
  13. [It's] hurt by the lack of any substantial underground flavor and is wounded by weak customization and no online play.
  14. 80
    Fans of the Need for Speed Underground series will feel right at home with Rivals.
  15. 80
    The big feature missing, which also made Underground innovative, is the ability to draft other cars. Without it, Rivals is just another racing game. Additionally, the Drift mode, which was addictively fun on the consoles, is now water downed to a flat, frustrating way of trying to skid your car in an unfashionable manner.
  16. It runs into setbacks with its graphics and controls that make it a distant second-place choice behind the superior competition.
  17. NFSUR's down 'n' dirty street racing complements "Ridge Racer's" arcadey day-glo driving perfectly. [GamesMaster]
  18. It gets rid of the overblown, big-city atmosphere of the recent console release and puts the focus on getting into races--the best part of the series--very quickly.
  19. 70
    It's just a shame that the multiplayer options weren't fleshed out further, as playing this with seven other guys online would have probably resulted in a much more attractive package.
  20. A major control issue is the analogue stick, which is almost on a par with the diabolical handling of "Daytona USA 2001." Driving with the stick puts you at an immediate disadvantage, because you have no qualifiable range of movement - the stick needs to be pushed fully to extract any response, and even then it's never subtle enough.
  21. Sure it doesn’t control as well as "Ridge Racer" but this is a portable version of the Underground game minus the empty exploration or a story.
  22. I hope that if EA follows this up, they continue the same engine effort, yet fix that blasted A.I. and add some depth.
  23. 79
    NFSU Rivals gets back to the basics, but I miss the intuitive performance tuning of "NFUS2," the analog stick is disappointingly implemented, and the AI isn't elastic enough... I'll be sticking with "Ridge Racer."
  24. After all of gaming sessions with NFSU Rivals, I always found myself going back to "Ridge Racers." Rivals’ controls could use a little bit of work along with how the cars look.
  25. Official U.S. Playstation Magazine
    It's a good game, but its depth just won't appeal to everyone. [May 2005, p.108]
  26. The racing itself is more or less pedestrian, and when the rest of the game shows this much depth, to see it lacking in the main portion of game play can't help but disappoint some players. [*Note: original score posted by Operation Sports as 3/5 = 60. Current score on their redesigned site is inaccurate.]
  27. 75
    Rivals comes in second place to Ridge Racer, but it does offer something different; plus, this game will definitely please those who like to modify their vehicles.
  28. Pelaaja (Finland)
    The PSP’s version of the Underground series is quite bland. The racing is fun in small doses and hunting for new parts for the cars is still quite entertaining. However the racing doesn’t give you the adrenaline rush it should. The Need for speed is not satisfied. [Sept 2005, p 60]
  29. Play Magazine
    Four-player head-to-head is a gas too. [May 2005, p.70]
  30. 86
    With the PSP's powerful graphics processor, the images in the game look stunning throughout and playing with this gadget really does feel like taking your PS2 with you on the move.
  31. PSM Magazine
    The controls are pretty twitchy, regardless if you use the D-pad or the analog stick. [May 2005, p.80]
  32. Overall, the graphics in Rivals do justice to the Underground faceplate. All of the signature visual touches are present, including the dark settings, the lighting effects, the blurring, the flaring, and so on. Likewise, the sense of speed is exhilarating.
  33. While not PSP's best driving game, Rivals is an entertaining street racer that offers quick thrills.
  34. Weekly Famitsu
    7 / 7 / 7 / 7 - 28 [Vol. 846]
  35. The gameplay, cars, and tracks are new and offer a fresh take on an awesome series.
  36. 80
    Features the same aesthetic and attitude as its renowned predecessors but lacks some of their soul. On the plus side, the game is a heck of a lot better suited to mobile gaming.

Awards & Rankings

#17 Most Discussed PSP Game of 2005
#13 Most Shared PSP Game of 2005
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 41 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 41
  2. Negative: 2 out of 41
  1. Oct 7, 2013
    A great game for street racing type games! Has lots of customization, cars (mostly tuners and a couple of muscle cars), and overall a fun gameA great game for street racing type games! Has lots of customization, cars (mostly tuners and a couple of muscle cars), and overall a fun game to have. Full Review »
  2. Oct 1, 2012
    I will not rate this game as high as the other users. Though, it is a great game with great graphics, nice controls and diversity with itsI will not rate this game as high as the other users. Though, it is a great game with great graphics, nice controls and diversity with its features....... Full Review »
  3. JeffreyL.
    Oct 6, 2005
    i love the customization, the overall underground feel, would be nice with storyline.