Mixed or average reviews - based on 62 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 62
  2. Negative: 8 out of 62
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  1. Adventure or racing? Definitely racing! The cut scenes are not suspenseful enough for an adventure. But I like Tri-City with its varied missions and the intuitive controls. Unfortunately the game sometimes drops to a low frame rate.
  2. While not a complete success, it is a refreshing change and a step in the right direction, unlike Quantum of Solace.
  3. So Undercover is a bit off-balance. Its bright spots, like the anticipation it builds for unlocking all the ridiculously fun race types, are dragged down by the slow-paced progression. A good time can be had, but only if you're patient or a really big fan of Most Wanted.
  4. Need For Speed Undercover has a tremendous premise, however, it feels unfinished in certain areas.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. NFS Undercover is a return to form for this long running racer series, the inclusion of the cops really puts pressure on your racing and with the addition of the usual upgrade and tuning options it helps to make this a top arcade racer.
  8. Moving away from the track and back onto the roads may have returned Need for Speed to where it belongs, but things aren’t perfect yet.
  9. Need for Speed Undercover is the best NFS game since Most Wanted but there are still a few more areas which need to be improved before we call Undercover the Need for Speed champ.
  10. While Need for Speed Undercover delivers in the areas of cinematic production, audio, visuals and through its sweet vehicle roster, it falls a bit short in the realm of top-tier, arcade-quality handling models.
  11. The police chases are fantastic, but the plot's bad and the gameplay is confined to an area that's much smaller than it seems like it should be.
  12. If you like action racing games this is a worth while rental at the very least. There is much to do in the game and even though it feels like the game is just missing some key factor to make it one of the best arcade racers around it is still enjoyable.
  13. I had a lot of fun with the Career mode in Need for Speed: Undercover, and the easy-to-grasp controls really make this an accessible and fun title in the Need for Speed franchise. Don't expect a lot of innovation or new ideas, as a lot of the things that were implemented seem to be pulled from previous NFS releases, but I think race fans will be able to have some fun with this title.
  14. 75
    Undercover is a great way for the NFS series to get back on track.
  15. Black Box have taken little in the way of risks but it's not faultless - the streets can feel quite empty (depending on race type) and the framerate can get a bit juddery. But you can't say that EA hasn't given us what we asked for.
  16. Between the excellent Midnight Club LA and the slightly disappointing Burnout Paradise, Need For Speed: Undercover unfavourably finds itself amongst some stiff competition.
  17. Need for Speed returns to its roots with hokey cutscenes, wild cop chases, and solid racing action.
  18. Need for Speed Undercover makes a good attempt to recapture the visceral sense of racing that the series made its name on, but doesn’t bring much new to the table.
  19. Even though I’ve got the gas pedal down as far as it’ll go, the game fails to satiate either the need or speed parts of the equation.
  20. One can't help but notice that the franchise has seen better days.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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."
  24. 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.
  25. An unimpressive arcade racing experience. Need for Speed: Undercover seems to lack any real sense of immersion and is graphically a bland experience.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 50
    Need for Speed Undercover is a poor game with a ton of problems, both technically and in terms of design.
  29. The framerate is so shockingly bad, it effects the entire enjoyment of the experience.
  30. 40
    On the whole, Need for Speed Undercover is way below par and very disappointing.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. It's not just that Need for Speed Undercover is a bad game; it's that it's a bad game with an incredibly erratic engine. The flaws, problems and issues that exist in NFS Undercover are virtually inexcusable for a popular franchise from such an affluent publisher.
  34. 75
    As a mashup of :Need for Speed: Carbon" and "Need for Speed: Most Wanted", Undercover is ultimately fairly successful. For many, though, in a post-"Burnout: Paradise" world, the question has to be raised: "What does this give me that Paradise doesn't?" The answer to that is "cops and robbers," a mechanic that has worked well in single-player since the days of Hot Pursuit, and works even better online when played in teams of 4-on-4 in Undercover.
  35. Framerate dips everywhere (going into turns and lots of graphic assets on the screen at once).
  36. 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.
  37. Unfinished, underdeveloped racing efforts like Need for Speed: Undercover leave the acrid taste of stale engine oil and greasy do-rags in my mouth. Luckily, it’s nothing that a little time spent with Grid or PGR4 can’t wash away. Undercover attempts to return the series to its former glory, but it’s obviously lost that loving feeling.
  38. 50
    It's clear that the Need For Speed series is in need of a GPS unit so it can get back on track.
  39. 360 Gamer Magazine UK
    While the gameplay feels simple and easy to interact with, there’s plenty of options and a decent array of customisation for your vehicles. A combination of arcade fun gameplay and a massive playground of a city to do it in should have you entertained for weeks.
  40. games(TM)
    The cut-scenes, in all their sincerity, still manage to be completely laughable. Yet it’s hard not to enjoy them despite the fact they’re not really doing the job intended. [Christmas 2008, p.97]
  41. Beset with technical flaws and with ideas slightly above its station, Need For Speed: Undercover is nonetheless loveable and at times thoroughly enjoyable. If you squint.
  42. With the superior Burnout Paradise still making the rounds, Undercover won't rev everyone's engine. If you liked Most Wanted or the Hot Pursuit games, however, you'll want to climb behind this wheel.
  43. The main problem with Need for Speed Undercover is that even though it is a lot of fun, it’s just not compelling or interesting enough to keep you coming back for more. While playing, I kept thinking, “Man, this would be a perfect weekend rental or budget title”, but I never thought about dropping $60 to get it new.
  44. Undercover is in almost all aspects a return to the well for the Need for Speed series. Adrenaline filled races with the police hot on your heels is as fun as it always was and the online mode Cops and Robbers is a blast. The presentation is also solid, building on top of the foundation laid with ProStreet with a design more resembling Burnout Paradise. Unfortunately the framerate occasionally grinds almost to a halt, a big problem in a game so utterly focused on speed. Undercover is also way too easy, not offering any form of challenge until the very end. It's an unfortunate example of great potential gone to waste.
  45. 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.
  46. 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.
  47. Games Master UK
    Nearly a return to form, but the new 'grown up' attitude takes away more than it gives. [Christmas 2008, p.62]
  48. Official Xbox Magazine
    A good time can be had, but only if you're patient...and a really big fan of Most Wanted. [Holiday 2008, p.68]
  49. I give them props for trying to re-work the popular Most Wanted angle of this series, I just wish it was a bit more evolved instead of running out of gas too early.
  50. More forgiving Most Wanted fans will find a lot to like in NFS Undercover.
  51. 70
    Need for Speed Undercover is a solid if not predictable step for the series. The lack of difficulty and frame rate issues are at the top of the list of its problems, but if you are a fan it is worth checking out.
  52. 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.
  53. Need for Speed Undercover is street racing for the short attention span crowd.
  54. 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?
  55. 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.
  56. 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.
  57. The game modes are not particularly intense, and the vehicles, although very detailed, fail to offer the feeling from the best of the series.
  58. A steeping stone for the series, one that offers hope that EA can achieve better things in the future.
  59. 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.
  60. 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.
  61. 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.
  62. 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.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 107 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 43 out of 107
  2. Negative: 36 out of 107
  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,SegaUnlike 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. BriabS
    Dec 18, 2008
    Where is the story? I didn't know I was at the boss level till I beat the boss! What's with the girl, are you suppose to fell cool, Where is the story? I didn't know I was at the boss level till I beat the boss! What's with the girl, are you suppose to fell cool, and thats good that she is pre-med? Big surprise the women you are working for is working for the bad guy!!!! Why the @#$% can't you sell those shitty cars you inherit from other racers!!! And one more thing on art, can we change the color pallette, don't fool us by just by changing the time of day to 7:55pm or 6:45 am. Plus a golden hour doesn't work when your caution walls are the same color as your lighting pallette!!!! Full Review »
  3. Mar 14, 2017
    Une resucée du Most Wanted de 2005 dont il reprend les bons principes comme se tirer la bourre avec la maréchaussée très énervée par tous cesUne resucée du Most Wanted de 2005 dont il reprend les bons principes comme se tirer la bourre avec la maréchaussée très énervée par tous ces aigles de la route jackyfiés. A cet égard, ça reste efficace d'autant que les nouveaux modes sur l'autoroute ou les poursuites contre un autre jaja ne sont pas désagréables.

    Techniquement, c'est fort présentable et la fluidité est plutôt au rendez-vous, ce qui change très agréablement du Most Wanted. Comme de coutume dans les NFS, l'excellente ambiance sonore (sons de moteurs, effets et VF) n'en finit plus de faire mourir de honte tous les GTrons de Polyfiony. Cela va de soi mais ça va mieux en le disant comme on dit.

    Hélas, tout est tellement arcadisé à donf et simplifié à l'extrême, exagéré dans des proportions à peine croyables : collisions grotesques, vitesse délirante (si tant est que cela fût possible), l'impression que tout le jeu est en avance rapide comme dans un Wipeout à roulettes qui aurait sniffé trop de coke. La ville est peu variée, très mal foutue et constituée aux trois quarts de grandes courbes et de grandes lignes droites, une régression regrettable par rapport à Most Wanted et totalement incompréhensible.

    Enfin, ces vidéos "live" sont d'un ridicule qui n'a pas de nom. Avec pourtant de bonnes bases, quel gâchis que d'en être arrivé là, EA !
    Full Review »