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  Friday, 8 November, 2002, 14:51 GMT
Let's play: Need for Speed 2

Need for Speed 2 is the kind of racing game that will infuriate serious fans of the genre but delight everyone else - myself included.

The game's premise is the stuff of the Canonball Run movies - fast cars, outrageous crashes and police chases.

You are put behind the wheel of some of the world's sexiest super cars and given the freedom to ignore stop signs, traffic lights, oncoming cars, helicopters dropping firebombs and police roadblocks.

Fans of Gran Turismo 3 or World Rally Championship will probably loathe the arcade feel.

  Need for Speed 2
Format: GameCube
Price: 39.99
Publisher: EA
Genre: Arcade racing
Also available: Xbox, PS2

The cars do not in any way behave realistically and while each of the supercars feel different to drive there are no great compensations to have to make.

I was able to race around one mountainous circuit without ever having to take my finger off the accelerator.

Now, I've never driven a super car in reality but I'm pretty sure that is not normal.

Yes, I crashed rather spectacularly in places but I still had time to win the race.

And no matter at what speed you crash your car it remains driveable and intact.

Need for Speed
Wreak havoc across the US

Admittedly this was in the early stages of the game - and it does get harder - but it's pretty simple to get to grips with. And what it lacks in realism it makes up for in fun.

As your car flies over bumps and leaves the road, the camera cuts to a movie-style view adding to the feeling that you are Steve McQueen behind the wheel in Bullit.

There are many levels to progress through - setting you a range of challenges.

They are all pretty much the same - getting from A to B, avoiding police cars and road blocks while racing different types of cars.

Success unlocks new tracks and vehicles.

  Verdict
Graphics: 85%
Playability: 90%
Sound: 85%
Realism: 70%
Overall: 80%

It is all enormous fun and the learning curve is not too steep.

The drawback is that because there is little realism to the driving there is not much to master.

Success seems hit or miss rather than about your skills behind the wheel.

Graphically, it looks a little dated. It has nowhere near the same level of polish as Project Gotham Racing or the recent Burnout 2 title.

As usual there is a strong range of tracks in the music department - but it remains a very American-orientated selection of rock.

With plenty of racing challenges it should have a decent amount of longevity but their repetitive nature might grate for some.


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