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Need for Speed: Undercover
Developer(s) EA Black Box
Firebrand Games (Nintendo DS)
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Designer(s) Oliver Marriott (director)[1]
Series Need for Speed
Engine Havok, Heroic Driving Engine (PS3, 360, PC, PS2)[2]
Octane Engine (DS)
Proprietary ( WII, iPhone)
Version (2009-05-09)[3]
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Windows Mobile, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS, N-Gage 2.0,[4] Symbian OS, Wii, Xbox 360, [5] iPhone OS[6][7] Palm webOS
Release date(s) NA November 18, 2008[8]

AUS November 20, 2008[5]
EU November 21, 2008[5]

Genre(s) Racing
Mode(s) Single-player, Multi-player
Rating(s) ESRB: T
PEGI: 12+
Apple: 4+
Media Blu-ray Disc, download, DVD, Wii Optical Disc, UMD
System requirements
Input methods Gamepad, Mouse and keyboard, Multitouch

Need for Speed: Undercover is the 12th installment of the popular racing video game series Need for Speed, developed by EA Black Box and published by Electronic Arts. It was released on PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS[4], and mobile phone in November 2008.[10][11][12] The game was later released on the iPhone OS on April 27, 2009. The games take place some time after Need for Speed: Carbon and some time before Need for Speed: World Online. According to EA, the game has sold over 5.2 million copies on all 8 platforms combined.[13] Need for Speed: Undercover is also the very last Need for Speed game to be released for a sixth-generation gaming console (in this case, the PlayStation 2).



Undercover features a new open world map[14] (like the Midnight Club series) consisting of 109 miles (175 km) of road[15] and a large highway system, making it the largest Need for Speed "world" EA has created so far.[15] The game's environment consists of four boroughs: Palm Harbor, Port Crescent, Gold Coast Mountains, and Sunset Hills. Some boroughs are the same as Need for Speed Most Wanted, just shifted to different positions.[16] These four boroughs make up the city, Tri-City, presumably a city located on Gulf Coast.[17] The road system includes four water crossings, going clockwise: the Main Guy Causeway (Ocean Expressway connecting Sunset Hills to Port Crescent via man-made island), the Vale Causeway (Sunset Hills to Palm Harbor), the North T Causeway (Man-made island to Palm Harbor), and the Memorial Tunnel (Port Crescent to Palm Harbor).[16] Undercover also features a new continuous highway system.[8] In previous installments, highways were relatively small circuits concentrated within separate boroughs.[18] In Undercover, the main highway circles Tri-City, with each of the four boroughs sharing a piece of the larger circuit.[16] The longer highway length gives a more realistic shape, with long straight areas, gentle curves, rest areas and large interchanges.[16] Lastly, the entire map is open from the start of the game, unlike previous installments where boroughs had to be unlocked.[16]

The police system is similar to Most Wanted and Carbon. It uses a similar bar graph at the bottom of the screen that moves between the blue "Evade" (shown as green on PS2 and Wii), on the right side, and the red "Busted", on the left side, depending on the player's speed and proximity to police.[16] The "Cooldown" period after evading pursuing police units returns as well (shown in light blue), along with heat levels, speedbreaker and pursuit breakers. Also similar to Most Wanted and Carbon, police vehicles range from generic city patrol cars to federal pursuit cars accompanied by police heavy SUVs and helicopters.[16] Unlike previous games, the type of police that appear is not entirely dependent on heat levels (i.e. high level police can appear at low heat levels and vice versa) but more on the player's wheelman level (i.e. progress through the game). At a high wheelman level, federal police will immediately join the pursuit, even if the player was at a low heat level.[16][19] Common police tactics such as road blocks, rolling road blocks, spike strips, and PIT maneuvers are all featured, although some are only used by federal police. In addition, the player gets to drive a police vehicle in a mission in career mode, which consists of stealing a Nissan GTR state police car. The other police cars cannot be driven except in a multiplayer game called Cops and Robbers.[16]

A damage system returns to Undercover, but differs from the prior title ProStreet in that the damage is only cosmetic and does not adversely affect performance.[16] However, a car can still be "Totaled" in the new "Highway Battle" mode and in some missions in career mode.[16] During these missions a car damage bar is displayed, which indicates the amount of damage done to the player's vehicle.[16] The primary goal of these missions is to deliver certain cars without totaling them.[16] In general, damage is automatically repaired after every career race or police pursuit,[16] unlike in ProStreet where it had to be repaired by the player at a cost (either money or a "repair marker").[20]

The customization of cars is similar to Need for Speed: ProStreet but has been enhanced on the level of graphics and detail.[21][22] The new color palette and the "matte" paint were improved.[22] The game also features aftermarket parts like Carbon did.[23] As a bonus, EA added a vinyl similar to the vinyl of the BMW M3 GTR in Need For Speed: Most Wanted that was continued as a bonus car in "Carbon".[24]

The player can gain wheelman (i.e. reputation) points as they progress through the game's story by participating in missions, winning races or performing flashy maneuvers in a police chase.[16] In turn, this grants the player access to bonus missions, adding a small RPG-like element to game play.[16]

The game also uses in-game advertising, featuring the T-Mobile Sidekick. [25]


A few days before Undercover's release, EA revealed a few plot details. A video was uploaded that showed the player evading capture from the Tri-City Police Department (TCPD).[2] Another source revealed that the player gets aided by detective Chase Linh and Lt. Jack Keller,[2] whilst also making friends with a character named Carmen Mendez, played by singer and actress Christina Milian.

In addition, six criminal characters were revealed, who are:

  • Chau Wu played by Daniel D. Lee (uncredited)
  • Gregory "G-Mac" MacDonald (a former undercover police officer from the TCPD, who's gone native, played by actor David Rees Snell from the television series "The Shield")
  • Rose Largo played by actress Heather Fox
  • Hector Maio played by actor Kurt Caceres (from the television series "Prison Break")
  • Freddy "Nickel" Rogers played by actor Lawrence B. Adisa
  • Zack Maio played by actor Joshua Alba (brother of the actress Jessica Alba)

The player is set in the story as a police officer, who goes undercover into the criminal underground of Tri-City, a fictional city where the game is based.[17] The player has to take on dangerous 'jobs' and compete in races in order to infiltrate and take down a ruthless international crime smuggling syndicate, consisting of illegal street racers and car thieves.[16] The player's only contacts to the police are federal handler Chase Linh, played by Maggie Q, and later Lt. Jack M. Keller played by Paul Pape.[26] In time, the player begins to prove himself as an excellent racer and wheelman.[16] As he goes deeper undercover, he ends up having to take out different criminal "friends" he meets but mistakenly frames Chau Wu, a ruthless leader of a crime syndicate.[16] Chau Wu then calls the player and tells him that there is only one thing he can do to redeem himself.[16] There is a car stolen from the dockyards with incriminating evidence in it.[16] Chau Wu believes G-MAC stole it, and he wants it back.[16] In reality, Hector and Zack Maio are the ones who stole it, not realizing who the car belonged to.[16] Carmen, fearful that Chau Wu is coming after her, asks the player to take the BMW M6 (Porsche 911 GT2 on PS2 and Wii versions) from her, however, Chau Wu finds out that the player now has his car.[16] He phones the player demanding the car back and will use Chase Linh as a hostage until the player does.[16] As a result, the player takes the car to Chau Wu, hoping to save her but when he gets there, he discovers that Chase Linh has been working with Chau Wu all along.[16] Chase Linh then murders Chau Wu and his henchman with a silenced pistol recovered from Chau Wu in order to frame the player with his death and escapes in the car, taking any of Chau Wu's possessions that were in it with her.[16] The police, thinking the player is the killer, come after him but Lt. Jack Keller tells him to lose them and go after Chase.[16] Eventually, she is apprehended and charged.[16] Later, Lt. Keller tells the player that Carmen testified in return for not being charged for any criminal offences and that the evidence used against Chase Linh was Chau Wu's PDA, which contained information regarding the dockyard cars and other criminal activities.[16] In the last scene, Carmen asks the player to drive her to the university because she is currently attending as a med student.[16]

Undercover is followed by Need for Speed: World Online-2010.


A Porsche 911 GT3 RS in Need for Speed: Undercover.

Electronic Arts CEO, John Riccitiello, stated that the previous release in the series (ProStreet) was only "an okay game...[and was] not good"[10] and that Undercover would "be a much better game".[27] He stated Undercover would have a considerably longer development cycle than its predecessors because the Need for Speed development team had been split up into two teams, both of which would work on a two-year development cycle with future titles, alternating releases between them.[27] Riccitiello stated he was "torturing" the development team with a tight development cycle in the past.[27] "When this change was implemented in mid-summer 2007, one team started working on Undercover (giving it only a 16.5 month development cycle), while the other team (that finished ProStreet) would start working on the next title."[28] Riccitiello also stated Undercover took inspiration from action films such as The Transporter, with a large embedded narrative.[10][11]

Frank Gibeau (President of the EA Games label) stated during development that due to the fact that the sales of ProStreet didn't live up to EA's hopes for the game, the Need for Speed franchise would go back to its roots (although Undercover was already being developed before ProStreet). "John Doyle (Developer at EA Black Box) said that Undercover would feature a brand new game mechanic and a 'Most Wanted-ish' sandbox style of gameplay."[28] The game was also provided with an all new damage system.[12] Andy Blackmore (Senior Vehicle Concept Artist at EA) explained how one of the Porsche cars that was "conceptualized" in the game was then brought to life for the game from a brief description to being approved by Porsche.[29]


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 64%[30]
Metacritic 63/100 (Xbox 360)[31]

59/100 (PS3)[17]

Review scores
Publication Score B[19]
Eurogamer 5/10[32]
Game Informer 7.0/10[14]
GamePro 2.5/5[33]
GameSpot PC & Xbox 360: 7.0/10[34]

PS3: 6.5/10[35]

GameSpy 3/5[36]
GameTrailers 6.7/10[37]
IGN PS3: 4.0/10[38]

PC & Xbox 360: 5.0/10[39][40]

iPhone Reviews 2.0 [41] 10/10 10/10 stars

Reception of Undercover overall was mixed. Many of the grievances was met with complaints about the game's easy difficulty, repetitiveness, and poor texture maintenance. One reviewer went as far as recommending the game's rivals such as Rockstar Games' Midnight Club: Los Angeles and EA's own Burnout Paradise.[38]

The IGN review was critical of the PS3 version of Undercover giving it a 4/10, calling it a "poor game with a ton of problems"[42] and with "practically no redeeming qualities".[38] IGN also commented on how the reason for having an open world environment was lost because a player could only start an event from the map.[38] However, the Xbox 360 and the PC versions received a higher score in contrast to the PS3 version in the IGN review, due to the fewer severe problems that occurred.[39][40]

The review called the game only "fairly successful," but praised the games selection of cars and tighter handling on the vehicles.[19] However, the "leveling" system that unlocks cars and upgrades was criticized for resembling "grinding".[19]

In general, sparse traffic, wide-open roads, and poor AI led to complaints about extremely low difficulty, however, one reviewer commented on how this may have been a marketing ploy to target a wider audience.[38][32][37]

The reception to the live-action cut scenes was almost universally negative, with many critics noting that the videos were poorly acted and lacked purpose.[19][37] The lack of connection between the crime fighting undercover cop story and the racing game play was particularly criticized by IGN who said, "You ... run missions where you steal cars, make 'special' deliveries and things like this now and again, but you never actually see any sequences that show how the cops are putting the evidence together or anything of that sort. Chase Linh will tell you [what] you need to do to get on the inside of a racing group in order to get dirt on them, and then after a race she'll say 'We have enough, let's move in.' [But you're left asking: How did that help at all?]"[43] Finally, the in-game frame rate received little praise, and GameSpot particularly criticized the PS3 version for this problem resulting in a lower score on the platform compared to the Xbox 360 and PC versions.[34][35]


  1. ^ "GameSpot: Need for Speed Undercover Tech Info". GameSpot. Retrieved 2009-01-20.  
  2. ^ a b c Chris Roper (September 17, 2008). "IGN: Behind the Wheel of Need for Speed Undercover". IGN. Retrieved 2008-11-04.  
  3. ^ "Need for Speed: Undercover Update Patch". Retrieved 2009-01-14.  
  4. ^ a b "The faces of innovation gather at annual Nokia Games Summit". Nokia. Retrieved 2008-10-29.  
  5. ^ a b c Fahey, Mike (August 15, 2008). "Maggie Q Spices Up Need For Speed Undercover". Kotaku. Retrieved 2008-08-15.  
  6. ^ Levi Buchanan (July 14, 2008). "E3 2008: EA Announces Next iPhone Games". IGN. Retrieved 2008-07-19.  
  7. ^ Chris Davies (2008-09-09). "Need For Speed: Undercover - Video Demo on new iPod touch". Slash Gear. Retrieved 2008-09-11.  
  8. ^ a b "IGN: Need For speed Undercover". IGN. Retrieved 2008-11-16.  
  9. ^ "Minimum system requirements". WorthPlaying. September 29, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19.  
  10. ^ a b c Ellie Gibson (2008-06-18). "New Need for Speed game unveiled". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2008-06-18.  
  11. ^ a b Mark Androvich (2008-06-18). "Riccitiello: We were torturing Vancouver studio". Retrieved 2008-06-18.  
  12. ^ a b Avinash Bali (2008-03-08). "New NFS and Skate Announcements Soon?". India. Retrieved 2008-03-09.  
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b "GameRankings: Need for Speed Undercover - XBox 360". GameRankings. December 1, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-19.  
  15. ^ a b " Need for Speed Undercover Questions And Answers". Retrieved 2009-01-27.  
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae EA Black Box. Need for Speed:Undercover. (Electronic Arts). Playstation 3, (v1.1). (2008-11-14)
  17. ^ a b c "Metacritic: Need for Speed Undercover Information". Metacritic. Retrieved 2009-01-27.  
  18. ^ EA Black Box. Need for Speed:Most Wanted. (Electronic Arts). Playstation 2, (v1.1). (2008-11-14)
  19. ^ a b c d e John Davison (November 18, 2008). "Need for Speed: Undercover Review from 1UP". Retrieved 2008-11-19.  
  20. ^ "Gamespot: Need for Speed Undercover Review". Gamespot. Retrieved 2009-01-27.  
  21. ^ "Gametrailers: Need for Speed Undercover Customization video". Gametrailers. Retrieved 2009-01-27.  
  22. ^ a b "Webwombat: Need for Speed Undercover Information". Webwombat. Retrieved 2009-01-27.  
  23. ^ "Msxbox-world: Need for Speed Undercover Information". Msxbox-world. Retrieved 2009-01-27.  
  24. ^ " Need for Speed Undercover Media". Retrieved 2009-01-27.  
  25. ^ Hamad Subani (2009-07-30). "In-game advertising; T-Mobile Sidekick in Need For Speed Undercover". Retrieved 2009-07-30.  
  26. ^ "EA Channel Need For Speed Undercover - Welcome to Tri-City". EA Games. Retrieved September 8 2008.  
  27. ^ a b c "Eurogamer: Need for Speed Undercover Unveiled". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2009-01-27.  
  28. ^ a b " Need for Speed Undercover Information". Retrieved 2009-01-27.  
  29. ^ Andy Blackmore (2008-09-26). "NFS>> THE GT2 GOES UNDERCOVER". Speedhunters. Retrieved 2008-09-28.  
  30. ^ "Need for Speed Undercover Reviews - PS3". GameRankings. Retrieved 2008-11-19.  
  31. ^ "Metacritic: Need for Speed Undercover Review". Metacritic. Retrieved 2009-01-27.  
  32. ^ a b Kristan Reed (November 20, 2008). "Need For Speed Undercover Review // Xbox 360 /// Eurogamer". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2008-11-22.  
  33. ^ Tracy Erickson (December 8, 2008). "GamePro: Need for Speed Undercover Review - PS3". GamePro. Retrieved 2009-01-19.  
  34. ^ a b Aaron Thomas (November 19, 2008). "Need for Speed Undercover for Xbox 360 Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 2008-11-22.  
  35. ^ a b Aaron Thomas (November 19, 2008). "Need for Speed Undercover for PlayStation 3 Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 2008-11-22.  
  36. ^ Stratton, Bryan (2008-11-20). "Need For Speed: Undercover Review at GameSpy". GameSpy. Retrieved 2009-03-13.  
  37. ^ a b c " - Need for Speed: Undercover - Review". Retrieved 2008-11-19.  
  38. ^ a b c d e Chris Roper (November 18, 2008). "IGN: Need for Speed Undercover Review (Page 1) - PS3". IGN. Retrieved 2008-11-19.  
  39. ^ a b Chris Roper (November 18, 2008). "IGN: Need for Speed Undercover Review (Page 3) - Xbox 360". IGN. Retrieved 2009-01-19.  
  40. ^ a b Chris Roper (November 18, 2008). "IGN: Need for Speed Undercover Review (Page 3) - PC". IGN. Retrieved 2009-01-19.  
  41. ^ iPhone Reviews 2.0
  42. ^ Chris Roper (November 18, 2008). "IGN: Need for Speed Undercover Review (Page 3) - PS3". IGN. Retrieved 2009-01-19.  
  43. ^ "IGN: Need for Speed Undercover Review - Xbox 360 (Pg 2)". IGN. Retrieved 2009-01-27.  

External links

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Need for Speed: Undercover
Box artwork for Need for Speed: Undercover.
Developer(s) EA Black Box
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Racing
System(s) Mobile, Windows, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PSP, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, Wii, Steam, Direct2Drive
ESRB: Teen
BBFC: 12
OFLC: General
PEGI: Ages 12+
Preceded by Need for Speed: ProStreet
Series Need for Speed

Need for Speed: Undercover is the latest installment of the Need for Speed series, and comes after the success of Need for Speed: Most Wanted. This time you'll be working with Maggie Q and Christina Milian in taking down the blacklist of racers while dealing with police which also can go after you. You'll enjoy cutscenes of people who you'll remember from previous games. You're going to have to win cash, reputations, cars and bosses.

Table of Contents

Getting Started
  • Controls
  • Achievements and trophies

editNeed for Speed series

The Need for Speed · Need for Speed II · Hot Pursuit · High Stakes · Porsche Unleashed · Motor City Online · Hot Pursuit 2 · Underground · Underground 2 · Most Wanted (5-1-0)  · Carbon (Own the City) · ProStreet (DS) · Undercover

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