Electronic Arts worked quickly to get Need For Speed Underground: Rivals ready in time for the PSP's Japanese launch. Despite that, they've put together a polished game that'll no doubt fly off the shelves in Japan this December (and in North America, once the PSP is released here).
The game is primarily based on the original Need For Speed Underground that was released for the PS2 in 2003, but includes cars and tracks from the recent NFS Underground 2, as well as a few "original" tweaks.
Fans can expect to see more than two dozen cars, from manufacturers like Mazda, Nissan, Toyota, Ford, and Mitsubishi. All of the mods that have made the NFS Underground series so sweet–such as body kits, paint jobs, and vinyl applications–will be available for players to unlock and purchase throughout the game. In terms of overall track selection, Rivals will include more than 40 unique circuits (tracks)–some from NFS Underground 1, some from NFS Underground 2, and some entirely original.
Like NFS Underground 2, Rivals for the PSP will let players drive around large city environments and accept challenges from CPU controlled opponents. Once a challenge is accepted, players will try to beat the other driver in a dash, circuit, or drag style race. Owing to the game's subtitle, "Rivals," rivalries will play a major role in this particular edition of the NFS Underground franchise. The more you race against specific opponents, the stronger your rivalries with them and their people become–increasing the payoff and upping the ante with more instances of dirty driving and interference.
Even though EA is rushing the game to market in time for the PSP launch, it looks like they're going in the right direction. Car modification and customization is still a major focus, they're putting in wireless support for human-vs-human races, and they've gone to lengths to duplicate the graphical style of the PS2 games. The textures may be a little rough, but the cars are highly detailed and shiny, and the wet, motion-blurred look that players recognizes has been brought over to the "small" screen.