Mixed or average reviews - based on 62 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 62
  2. Negative: 8 out of 62
  1. On the whole though, Undercover certainly isn’t a terrible game; considering the glut of games on the market this holiday season, Undercover gets enough things right to bring it past bargain bin status, but the problem is, there’s not much to dig into beyond that.
  2. Undercover is entertaining, has excellent controls and offers lots of variety for the vehicles avaliable, which combined with a great soundtrack makes a solid racing game. Sadly, the mediocre technical performance undercuts the presentation values and the light difficulty level will turn down the most dedicated players.
  3. Need for Speed Undercover is street racing for the short attention span crowd.
  4. There’s probably a fantastic game in there somewhere, and given a bit more development time, it might have shown it’s true colors. As is, however, NFS:UC is awfully tough to recommend.
  5. Need for Speed Undercover lacks challenge, struggles technically, and practically requires sunglasses to play. The framework for a stronger game is present, but the final product simply doesn't come close to competing with games like "Midnight Club: LA" or "Burnout Paradise."
  6. Undercover is definitely a step in the right direction and if it wasn't for the horrible design issues (buggy GPS, frame rate issues and dodgy AI), the game would be scoring closer to the 80's. It's ultimately these design issues that spoil what is a solid racer. Chances are, if you can look past these issues, you'll actually really enjoy the title, I did ... but I have the patience of a Saint.
  7. NFS of old was about hot cars, hot pursuits and miles and miles of open road, and Undercover make a semi-successful fist of recapturing some of this magic. Looks great, plays fine. There’s no getting around the fact, however, that Undercover is basically Most Wanted with a new lick of paint. Can somebody please green-light Hot Pursuit 3? Surely the open-world horse has been well-and-truly flogged?
  8. An unimpressive arcade racing experience. Need for Speed: Undercover seems to lack any real sense of immersion and is graphically a bland experience.
  9. Need for Speed Undercover is one of the biggest bluffs of this final quarter of 2008. Far from catching the spirit of Most Wanted, the game of Black Box fails in its proposal because of an excessively easy campaign and because of its "shock-car" style driving.
  10. From a technological perspective, Undercover is a humiliating installment in the Need for Speed-series. The frame rate stutters, the open world is dead, and the story is laughable. Even then, Undercover offers some of the same over-the-top racing fun we have gotten used to, and the game will surely get your adrenaline pumping when getting behind the wheel of some of the hottest cars in the world.
  11. A disappointing title. It doesn’t build on the series in any way, basically sticking to Most Wanted’s fundamentals, whilst adding more technical issues.
  12. After EA's recent run of quality, it came as quite a shock that Undercover simply doesn't feel ready. The in-game performance is frankly terrible and one of the main event types is deeply flawed. We can't deny that there's still fun to be had here, especially in the highway battles (and with some of the dialogue), but we simply can't recommend a game that performs so poorly that it's at times unplayable.
  13. 60
    It's a sparse game, and after you've sunk about ten hours into it you'll feel suitably empty, too. It's not rewarding, satisfying or endearing.
  14. It’s hard to really dislike Need for Speed Undercover simply because the core game is similar in many ways to the excellent Most Wanted. But it under-aims, underperforms, underachieves and does so while practically throwing a begging bowl at you in the form of purchasable unlocks.
  15. The game modes are not particularly intense, and the vehicles, although very detailed, fail to offer the feeling from the best of the series.
  16. A steeping stone for the series, one that offers hope that EA can achieve better things in the future.
  17. 60
    Need for Speed: Undercover is a game that both satisfies and disappoints on a regular basis. While the chases provide top-notch thrills and spills, you can’t help but feel like you’ve just done it too many times to really care anymore.
  18. 60
    Undercover may push the nostalgia button for the NFS faithful. But substandard presentation and a host of nagging technical issues cause it to sputter across the line for a distant third-place finish.
  19. A very disappointing entry in the NFS series, which clearly shows that not much thought was put into making it. Tries to bring back the fun and rush seen in Most Wanted, but fails in almost every aspect.
  20. When all is said and done, Need for Speed: Undercover is a shallow experience unworthy of predecessors like Need for Speed: Underground or Need for Speed: Most Wanted.
  21. Despite overwhelming condemnation from the wider world then, Undercover is eventually a reasonably decent game. It's just a shame it takes so long to get there, when a simple difficulty level could have jumped the tedium.
  22. 50
    Need for Speed Undercover is a poor game with a ton of problems, both technically and in terms of design.
  23. Framerate dips everywhere (going into turns and lots of graphic assets on the screen at once).
  24. 50
    It's clear that the Need For Speed series is in need of a GPS unit so it can get back on track.
  25. The framerate is so shockingly bad, it effects the entire enjoyment of the experience.
  26. This port of Most Wanted that was a port of Carbon, which in itself wasn't good in the first place, is unforgivable from a team as financially stable as EA. Heck, Burnout Paradise, while not a great "Burnout-style" game, was a fantastic racing game, so how about counting your losses and just releasing one racing title and put all your money and focus on it.
  27. Undercover doesn’t cover any new ground, and the campy cutscenes – which are a better motivator than earning higher-tier vehicles – lose sight of the game’s pace car. The police chases are knowingly the high point, but even those grow subdued through saturated exposure.
  28. A huge letdown for a franchise that is yearning for its reinstatement at the top. EA really should have done so much better. Why not just use the Burnout Paradise engine, create a new city, slap in the NFS gameplay and call it...Most Wanted Hot Pursuit Porsche Unleashed? I'd buy it. In fact I'd buy two copies out of unadulterated joy.
  29. 40
    On the whole, Need for Speed Undercover is way below par and very disappointing.
  30. I'll admit that my fondness for Need for Speed Most Wanted colored my expectations for Need for Speed Undercover, but this game's general failure as a racing game ends up being so significant that its inability to recapture the fun of Most Wanted in particular is kind of a moot point. There's no shortage of street racing games on the market right now, and there's simply no room for a game that can't nail down some of the basics.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 93 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 23
  2. Negative: 7 out of 23
  1. Apr 18, 2011
    Unlike alot of the other User reviewers on here,I'm NOT new to the Need for Speed games.I've play them since Need for Speed 1 on the 3DO,Sega Saturn & PS1.No 1 in my opinion,ws the best.Excellent pacing,handeling,& crash physics.You actually didnt want to crash,as you would have to wait for your car to stop rolling,before you could re join the race,so you were cautious not to crash.Made for great racing.So i know what can be done with the Need for Speed franchise,So Frankly expect more than the Abysimal Need for Speed-Undercover!.. Good examples of Need for Speed games,have been Nfs 1&2,Nfs Hot Pursuit 1&2(Not the one on the 360 & PS3),Nfs-Road Challenge,Underground 1&2,& Most Wanted.Possibly Shift 2,but havnt played that yet.But even as great as those are,none of them match the great gameplay of No1 all those years ago.Anyway,back to Undercover.Now where do i start?.. The Graphics are underdetailed,The handleing physics not very good,The game world is barren(it feels like some sort of Plague has killed off the worlds population,with the amount of other cats on the road,& no pedestrians).& yet,with the poor quality graphics & barren game world,theres that atrotious frame rate! What the Hell?! The frame rate renders the game practically unplayable! & i've heard its even worse on the PS3.. The races are far too easy,& these cust scenes seem to be put in to make the game seem more slick than it actually is,& they dont serve any purpose to the story at all.just a quick cutscene,& your in another race for some reason.. The other bad thing about this game is,they've created a free roaming world,but theres NO POINT WHAT-SO EVER to free roam.Great... Theres no random challenges to be had from it,& you dont even get to drive to get from race to race,as you have to choose it off the map,to 'Warp' there anyway.What the hell were Blackbox thinking?! No wonder they got took off the NFS games after this one.It was like they got the work experience guys to make the game,while they were on holiday(or maybe they actually did make THAT bad a game themselves).. But then,Criterion have since made the exact same mistake since,with Need for Speed-Hot Pursuit.A free roaming game,with literally no point to free roam! What a waste.. The only positive thing i can say about this game,is that the engine noise is good.But thats it.Whoopie.I'm normally fairly generous with my scores,& appreciate a good game,& the work thats gone into making it when i see it,but this is NOT good,& obviously no effort has gone into it. Full Review »
  2. Jan 20, 2014
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Whoa! The NFS Series as fumbled a few times (Such as Porsche Unleashed on the PS1 and ProStreet), but not as BAD as Undercover.

    I'm going to start with the good: Variety of cars, the police chases (to a certain extent), the soundtrack, and the size of the map.

    The Bad: Literally everything else this game has to offer.

    The story: It took me less than 3 days to complete, it doesn't make a lot of sense, transition between the story and the missions is non-existent, and the objectives in the missions are not explained at all. There was so much they could have done to make you work like an actual undercover cop, but it was dumbed down like a low-budget action film.

    The graphics: they are UGLY. To be fair, I can understand EA's artistic choices trying to make the game feel like a Michael Bay film, but they made it look cartoon-ish. The warm colors of the environment with the cool colors of the sky just doesn't look good. In addition, the game takes place at either sunset or sunrise so you are constantly blinded by the sun and the fresh-rain effect on the roads makes the sun reflection even brighter and very difficult to see. Part of the map is programmed to change to sunset or sunrise depending on where you are. With that stated, there are moments where you literally (I'm not kidding you) seeing the sun moving across the sky! It just shows how physics in this game are not a simulated in any form which brings up the next BIG problem: the physics.

    The physics in this game are the worst I have ever played in a driving game and I play mostly racing games. The "Heroic Driving Engine" is laughable. The cars turn on a dime, rarely need to tap on the break, and require no drifting or driving skills going around corners. You can literally make a clean turn with a Bugatti Veyron going 150+ MPH around a street corner without tapping the brakes. This is not realistic in any form! There are other stupid physics glitches in the game where the pursuit brakers have physics explosions. Example: knocking over a platform of pipes, instead of falling, they go shooting across the sky at 1,000+ miles per hour! Other glitches include cars barrel rolling while stationary, pursuit breakers destroying police cars nowhere near the falling object(s). Some of these glitches are in conjunction with the incredibly stupid AI that consists of slow racers, police pointlessly ramming everything, and literally smoking the AI on any race/ mission without any effort. There are so many little physics glitches here-and-there that I could go on forever on each one I have encountered. The lack of beta-testing clearly shows!

    Although Tri-Cities Bay is the biggest city compared to Rockport and Palmont City from the last 2 NFS titles, this map looks the ugliest. Although some areas of the city are cool to explore, the graphics explained above with the textures leads to a very bland and lifeless city with spotty AI traffic, ugly low-resolution textures, and very little sense of depth, and large stretches of rural and coastal highways with no vegetation and only terrain with repeated textures. It literally looks incomplete (Like the rest of this game).

    Other technical issues: The frame rate is all over the place at any given moment. Some areas the frame rate slows the game to a point where it is almost unplayable. There are moments where your player's car is going faster than the road loading ahead, literally stopping the game until the void in front of you loads the map. I have heard this is a bigger issue on the PC version, but I will never find out as I will would never poison my PC with this garbage of a program!

    There is very little to explain about the races themselves as they are like the past NFS games, except the AI is painfully easy. Another questionable issue is that instead of having arrows blocking you from driving off a race, there are literally walls blocking multiple paths, but the AI traffic is programmed to literally drive through the them (Yay, another huge freaking glitch!). Why didn't EA put the arrows to allow traffic to properly drive through them? We will never know.

    I understand EA was trying to create a 3rd title to expand the game/racing structure we had in Most Wanted (2005) and Carbon, but they screwed-up this game so badly I don't know how they could have sold this without embarrassment.

    I have a theory about this game: the development time was supposedly 2 years on this title. During the first year of development, the recession happened where many companies like EA had to scale back their operations. I wouldn't be surprised if EA "cut" development of the game, told Black Box to finish whatever was complete so they could ship the game and make a profit as it would be too big of a loss to cancel the title. It clearly shows this game was incomplete. We will never know. All we know is we were given crappy glitches and incompleteness for a final product for 2008's installment of the NFS series.

    Final score: 2!
    Full Review »
  3. Nov 4, 2013
    I know that I had previously downrated hot pursuit badly, but as this being one of the first games that I got for the Xbox 360, In contrast to Hot Pursuit, I actually had some joy with playing this game, as it still maintained the option of purchasing particular vehicles for any such event, as well as a full variety of customization types. However, the customization names get way too technical in this series, almost as technical as the types of rims you'd like to buy. Anyhow, the decal and vinyl customization is much more peaked and varied from previous addons, as you can change rotation, size and position of any such decal, adding much more diversity to your own imagination. Cars are suited in "ranks", meaning that 4 would be a pretty low-performance car, as in 1 is the baddest of the bad, the fastest of the fast. Anyhow, the story itself is not original, compelling, or coherent to "undercover". Most Wanted had more of a undercover setting than this. The story makes you feel as though you have a choice, but really, you don't. You are told what to do through a linear playthrough that only becomes free roam when those quests involve races, which in itself are neat too. The area you get to play in is flagrantly beautiful, involved in the tri-states area close to where I live (if Oregon and Washington are close, they're practically the same state), however the vehicle traffic and populace feels completely empty for a metropolitan area such as that, whether by the courtesy of the dev's to make the driving experience easier or just plain lack of notation. Like in Most Wanted, most of the races are difficulty dependent on the cars you drive, but have particular races that are much more difficult than others, requiring more sporty cars and more driving determination. Vehicle damage is nigh absent, with little more than scratches and windows despite the highway runs formulating a "wrecked" motion when you run into cars. The highway runs is the new special challenge, like drifting in Carbon, as you go 1vs1 against highway traffic (again, the traffic is minimal for a metropolitian area). There are special skill boosts that allow you to gain decreased costs for particular parts, or increase other areas of your pique depending on how you perform on races, which does give you the drive to beat out each race. Also, you can perform the same races with the help of the gps, that has particular categories for any such of race, such as sprints or circuits, quest races, special races and races you have already done and new races. Despite these benefits, most of the game seems bored of itself, feeling too calm and steady for intense driving. At least this still brings the Need for Speed racing experience that we should expect, other than some future developments. It might be hard to garnish an interest in this game, but once you do, you won't feel regret buying it. Full Review »