Rated: 12+. According to the box, this rating is due to bad language but I can't say I noticed any. One thing I did notice, however, was having to constantly take out police cars by dropping scenery on them or nudging them into on-coming civilian vehicles.
Apparently, this is legitimate behaviour if you're an undercover cop...
Story: You're working for the FBI to infiltrate an international crime syndicate via the street-racing scene. This involves breaking pretty much every vehicle-related law known to man.
Gameplay: Lots of driving at high speed through urban environments and on freeways. There are standard missions, such as races and competing against the clock, but there are also others involving such things as outrunning the police, taking down bosses and delivering stolen cars with minimal damage.
It's possible to drive around town looking for missions but, thankfully, this isn't compulsory. A couple of button presses can take you directly to the next race.
The game supports the Wii wheel but you can still use motion-sensing to steer without it. If you prefer to use a control stick, the nunchuk, GameCube controller and classic controller are all supported.
Save System: Autosave after every mission.
Comments: At first glance, it's hard to work out who this Wii version of the latest Need for Speed is aimed at. The relatively mature content means that kids will be better off with Mario Kart. The ugly graphics mean that teenagers will complain it's not a patch on Burnout Paradise on their mate's 360. Anyone who's a fan of racing games in general is liable to laugh at the way cars bounce off corners and opponents seem to slow down to let the player past.
So who's left?
After careful consideration, I've decided it's dads who want an occasional shot of driving recklessly on their kids' console once they're all safely tucked up in bed. Particularly dads who've had a beer and really can't be bothered to use the brake button.
Need for Speed Undercover is a racing game for those who are easily bored or defeated by racing games. The brief races, easy difficulty and constant variation make it addictive. The daft plot, some simple car upgrading and a few live-action movie sequences involving Maggie Q add some direction. The result is simply more entertaining for those lacking commitment than other, more serious, games like Gran Turismo and Project Gotham.
That said, it's certainly not a classic game by any stretch of the imagination. The graphics are ropey and the free-roaming is mostly pointless. The artificial intelligence of the other drivers is simply bizarre - racers seem almost unable to drive while police cars somehow manage to keep up, no matter what you do, until you drop a pylon on them. In most missions, your car is ludicrously indestructible; in a few, a handful of scrapes mean failure. (This was hugely frustrating until I realised I could change to the 'Easy' difficulty setting at any time.) The script makes The Fast and the Furious look almost competent.
Still, if you want shiny, polished racers requiring skill and perseverance, you should go buy a 360 anyway. If you just want to waggle a Wii wheel about crazily once the kids are in bed, this is quite fun.
Conclusion: A racing game for those who like the idea of driving fast but simply aren't very good at it.
Graphics: Poor. This is partly so the game can cope with moving through the open city at high speed but it's not like there are any pedestrians or there's even that much traffic. The set-piece sequences where you destroy objects to throw off a chase look particularly creaky. It all suggests that this is a quick conversion of a PS2 game. The Wii can do better.