It’s time for your inner speed demon to come to the surface once again. Need for Speed is a long-running game franchise known for blending (and blurring) car racing reality with the spectacular Hollywood fiction of movies like The Fast and the Furious. As the title suggests, this time around, Need for Speed: Undercover flips the script by putting you in the hot seat as an undercover cop tasked with infiltrating a major crime syndicate.
Regular movie-style cutscenes guide you through the campaign mode where your ‘handler’, agent Chase Linh (played by actress Maggie Q), instructs you on what to do and where to go. She is your way into the crime syndicate and the only person who knows you’re working undercover.
Your first mission is to win a street race in order to gain the attention of the gangsters you’re trying to befriend. The remainder of the game focuses on winning races and playing through various campaign scenarios called ‘jobs’. As you win races you gain cash and ‘pink slips’ which are the car-racing equivalent of the big prize: your next car upgrade. Vehicles can be heavily customised for better performance and appearance - as long as you have the cash in the bank. The customisation options are fantastic and allow you to upgrade just about everything, right down to the gloss on the bonnet.
Controlling your vehicle in this version is a lot easier than I remember in previous Need for Speed games. You control your flashy speed machine using the left thumb stick, accelerate with the right trigger and break with the left (R2 and L2). The story mode expands the game beyond straight street racing, winning cars and upgrading your vehicle. The multiplayer option Cops Vs Robbers looks like a lot of fun – allowing up to eight people to race online. Unfortunately, this mode wasn’t working in the preview version I played, but thankfully it won’t be long until Need For Speed: Undercover’s official release date in late November.