Video Game: Need for Speed: Underground

Need for Speed: Underground is a sub-series of Electronic Arts's Need for Speed franchise developed by EA Black Box. Consisting of the titular first game in 2003, the open world Underground 2 in 2004, and the portable Underground Rivals in 2005, these games drastically changed the focus and identity of NFS from racing exotic cars in various scenic tracks while being chased by the cops to racing heavily-customized import tuners in urban environments at night when there are no cops around. In addition, Underground introduced an actual plot to the series for the first time.

In Underground, you are an unnamed racer in Olympic City with your friend, Samantha. Supposedly, according to the Need for Speed Wiki, you originally hail from Palmont City (the setting of 2006's Need for Speed: Carbon), where you were in a race against Wolf, Angie, and Kenji until they were all ambushed by Palmont Police Department. You managed to flee from them with a bag filled with (fake) paper money given to you by Nikki before settling in Olympic City.

After being awoken from a daydream by Samantha, she shows you the ropes around the city's underground street racing scene. You race around the city, meet a mechanic named TJ, and beat competitors left and right until you could come up to Eddie. Eddie is the best racer in the city, and also is the leader of The Eastsiders who drives a customized orange Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 (the car seen on the game's cover). He also has a girlfriend named Melissa.

When you finally do so, he challenges you and Samantha to a sprint race that leads to her wrecking her Hello Kitty-esque Honda Civic Si in the process, which TJ takes for himself and repairs (and redesigns) it afterwards. Eddie tries to get rid of you to no avail, as you win back Samantha's car and beat Eddie and his crew. Finally, a mysterious driver in a silver Nissan 350Z challenges you to compete in one more race. After you beat the driver, who reveals herself to be Melissa, you are deemed the best racer in the city.

However, your time of celebration will not last long. Leading into the events of Underground 2, a mysterious bald man calls you to try to force you into joining his crew, but you hang up on him. En route to a celebratory party, you are rammed in your Skyline by a black Hummer H2 driven by a man with a scythe tattoo on his hand, calling someone to say that he "took care of a problem."

Six months later, you take a flight to Bayview with Samantha recommending in a note that you meet her friend, Rachel Teller. After arriving at the airport, you drive Rachel's green Nissan 350Z (the car on this game's cover) to get your first car from Bayview for free as insurance payment for the totaled Skyline (although you do have the option to race in three events in her car, though she won't like it).

From there, you race around the city, winning events and collecting sponsorships. Eventually, you cross paths with The Wraiths, led by Caleb Reece, and as you win races against them, you hear more about their shady work in their attempt to control Bayview's racing scene, such as manipulating sponsorships against both you and Rachel. It's also revealed that Caleb was the man responsible for the wrecking you in Olympic City. Later on, after you win a series of URL (Underground Racing League) races, a female Wraith member named Nikki Morris defects from them and joins your crew.

Infuriated by your constant winning, Caleb eventually challenges you to one last race against him in his 2004 Pontiac GTO. Once you beat him, The Wraiths are dissolved, Caleb is forced to leave town, and you are (again) deemed the best racer in the city.

According to the NFS Wiki, your story continues in 2005's Need for Speed: Most Wanted.

Underground Rivals has no plot, and thus does not connect to the above stories.

These Need for Speed games contain examples of the following tropes:

  • Always Night: Daylight never occurs in gameplay within these games, which was justified given the illegal street racing that made up them.
  • And Now For Something Completely Different: Underground radically changed the look and feel of Need for Speed by taking out the exotics, scenic environments, and police and replacing them with tuners, cities, and aftermarket customization.
  • Bald of Evil: Caleb Reece.
  • Big Bad/Final Boss: Eddie in the first Underground, Caleb Reece in Underground 2.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Underground had the Bonus Cars, untuned cars with awesome vinyls.
  • Broken Bridge: You have to win events to unlock access to various areas around Bayview, otherwise you'll have to deal with holographic barriers blocking access to the locked areas of the city.
  • Cool Cars: These games were when Need for Speed switched from exotics to tuners, and thus had the coolest imports for the time, especially the Nissans on the two main games' covers.
  • Design It Yourself Equipment: While they're not the first games in the series to feature aftermarket parts (that honor goes to Need for Speed: High Stakes), they are the first to make them a main feature.
    • The Nintendo DS version of Underground 2 allows players to create decals using the touch screen.
  • Difficulty Spike: The first Underground started this trend in the franchise.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Played straight in the Underground games, where almost all race givers will treat your car as a wreck, and expect you to be lapped five times by the end of the race.
  • Excuse Plot: Seriously, the plots are only there to provide some sort of motivation for winning events.
  • Fame Gate: The Underground games have a style gate for certain points in the campaign, where you customize your car to reach a set stylish rating.
  • In Medias Res: The first Underground starts like this.
  • Market-Based Title: The first game was called Need for Speed: Underground J-Tune in Japan.
  • Mighty Glacier: The three SUVs in Underground 2 (Lincoln Navigator, Hummer H2, and Cadillac Escalade) play to this.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Pick a girl, any girl. They were all played by models.
  • Nitro Boost: These are the first NFS games to include this.
  • Product Placement: Along with the numerous sponsorships and part manufacturers in both games, in Underground 2 (2004 "winner" of GameSpot's "Most Despicable Product Placement"):
    • You have a Cingular Wirelessnote  phone with SMS capabilities with their logo prominently showing on your HUD all the time, and there are various Cingular stores strewn across Bayview.
    • There are several Best Buy stores in the City Core and Coal Harbor areas.
    • There are several Burger King franchises strewn across the city, with a prominent Burger King restaurant located in Beacon Hill West that has a drive-thru pathway that can be used as a shortcut.
  • Ramp Jump: Underground's maps had players jumping over rivers and canals using opened drawbridges.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: Underground has "Get Low" by Lil Jon & The Eastside Boyz featuring the Ying Yang Twins; Underground 2 has the "Fredwreck Remix" of The Doors' classic "Riders on the Storm", with special rap lyrics by Snoop Dogg.
  • Spiritual Successor: Need for Speed, the 2015 series reboot.
  • Swallowed Whole: The fate of a particular silver and purple Nissan 350Z in the mindfuck that is the older intro movie for Underground 2.
  • True Final Boss: Melissa in Underground.
  • The Voiceless: Your character doesn't speak at all in these games.
  • Wham Episode: Actually a Wham Race in the first Underground. The race known as "Friends Are Easy To Make, And Easier To Lose" has you racing against Samantha, who's been your guide throughout the first two-thirds of the game. Later, the other racers will call you out on this.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: Underground 2 marked the debut of free-roaming environments in the Need for Speed franchise, with Bayview able to be explored more and more as you beat events.