Open world action driving adventure
The sentence above is a sum up of all the key features of the game. Let's cover it one by one!
Free roam is back! This time it's a tri-city area consisting of Palm Harbor, Port Crescent and Sunset Hills Mountains. Each area is unique in it's own way: we have commercial downtown, industrial harbor area and rural farmland area. All are connected with an interstate highway ring connecting all three together. It is a rather large area with the interstate loop taking about 8 minutes to complete at high speed. We won't just be racing downtown and on highways, expect paths through factories, canyons, suburbs, construction sites, mountains and more. There will be plenty of shortcuts and alternative routes to evade cops and to help you further, pursuit breakers are returning (pursuit breaker is an object that when you hit it, it usually crashes down on cars following you).
Time of the day is set to the so called "Magic hour" - around 6am when the light is low casting long shadows - which gives the game a slight yellowish tone, a bit similar to Need for Speed Most Wanted.
One thing that I was quite impressed with Need for Speed Undercover was the driving physics. They took the physics model out of ProStreet, upgraded and tuned it. Cars now feel lighter to drive and stick to the road better, making the game easier to drive which ultimately results in higher speeds and what the title says, action driving. To make the handling even more action, they made performing stunts really easy! See cops coming at you? No problem, just hit ebrake and pull off a 180 spin - easily done from going backwards as well. Like drifting? Putting your car sideways shouldn't be a problem, but keeping it sideways will require a bit of practice.
But let's hope you don't like drifting too much - it is not a part of this game. Game modes consist of the standard circuits, sprints, canyon runs and the all new Highway battle which is essentially a one on one race on the highway against extremely dense traffic. Traffic is supposed to be more intelligent in Undercover: expect it to drive according to the speed limit, use blinkers when changing lanes and try to avoid the crashes made by you or your opponents.
Nitrous is back (this time with multiple shots) as well as Speed breaker (a feature in Most Wanted and Carbon where you could slow down the time to perform more extreme maneuvres) - which you will have to use all at once before it recharges again. Another feature that made it back is drafting - drive behind opponents and use the lesser drag to gain speed. And speaking of drag, it's not one of the game modes in Undercover.
What we never had in a Need for Speed game is a good story line. Need for Speed Undercover will try to improve the series' reputation in that area with a big and complex story line revolving around the player who is an undercover cop. His only contact with the outside world an agent played by Maggie Q, who is the main star of the game. The cast includes other actors including Christina Milian, but I suggest you check out the IMDB page for more info. The filming was done in Hollywood and is a combination of real film with digital effect applied to it which results in a very unique look. Check out the trailer to see what I mean. To progress through the stories you'll have to play different missions which will be visible on your map. You'll be able to select missions right from the map, or the old fashioned way by driving to the location of the mission.
Those are the main features, but they do not cover all the game has to offer. I'm sure a lot of you are a bit worried right now whether there is any customization in the game: yes there is! Autosculpt is back, they are also promising separate bumper and sideskirt kits (along with full body kits), there's improvements to the paint system allowing you to paint different areas of the car (just the bumper for instance). Performance tuning is in as well. So is damage, but it is pretty much just visual. But like always, we won't get a perfect game this year. There is no rear view mirror, no dashboard camera (they did center the hood cam though), no split screen. Photomode is back but I wouldn't be hoping for replay mode (I will try to get an official answer whether replay is in though). Cops are in, but don't expect to drive in a cop car, although that could be in one of the multiplayer modes (which haven't been revealed yet).
It seems that with Undercover EA took the best features of the previous games and put them all together into one game which could as well be called Most Wanted 2. And as Most Wanted was one of the best Need for Speed games, Undercover could as well turn out to be one cool game!
If you'd like to see more of NFS Undercover I suggest you take a look at the following image galleries:
Also there's the updated screenshots section.