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Need for Speed Undercover: EA's Fun Ride

This latest game in Electronic Arts' racing franchise lets you play an undercover cop who answers to Maggie Q and tries to take down a crime ring

Need For Speed Undercover, due November 18, is the latest entry in Electronic Arts' successful racing franchise. You play as an undercover cop attempting to fit in with lowlifes in order to infiltrate and take down a crime ring. From what we've seen, the game has plenty of highway battles and missions where you crash into enemies while dodging the fuzz. Where it'll make its mark, though, is with all the live action footage featuring numerous actors, including Hollywood hottie Maggie Q, star of Live Free or Die Hard and Mission Impossible III.

Undercover takes place in the fictional Tri-City Bay Area, which EA divided into three parts: Palm Harbor, Port Crescent and Sunset Hills. You're a wheelman, not of the Vin Diesel variety, and you'll get your orders from Chase Linh, played by Q. She'll not only give you missions, but also helpful advice on your surroundings and tips for defeating enemies.

As previously mentioned, the game features live action cut scenes that'll transition to in-game driving. EA apparently went all out creating numerous sets, the goal to blur the line between film and game. We've seen this before in another one of EA's hits, Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, but it appears the company wants to go for a less cheesy tone. We were only shown snippets of footage, so it's too early to tell whether the actors will light up the screen. That said, the gorgeous Maggie Q has a captivating presence, and we're more than ready to listen to whatever she has to say.

When it came time to step behind the wheel, EA let us sample three missions, each of which showcased attractive cars, highways, skyscrapers and lots of action. We challenged the computer to a race and won handily, drove to a chop shop while crashing into police cars (the higher the damage to the state, the more convincing you are as an undercover cop) and then competed against cars in a larger race. All the while, we smashed through fences, destroyed police barricades and caught some nice air off ramps, so it appears that along with the cut scenes, the developers also want to nail a more Hollywood inspired driving experience. And this being a Need for Speed video game, you'll have the option to customize your vehicle, though EA wouldn't go into detail.

As expected, the game has real time damage to all of the vehicles, so we managed to dent our rides and scrape the paint. In addition, and while completing these tasks, we admired the change in scenery, which went from an urban landscape to sprawling green hills. If anything, the game should have plenty of varied terrain.

Naturally, it's still too early to determine whether Need For Speed Undercover will be a hit. EA didn't show us enough content, but it has some attractive features and we're looking forward to crashing into scumbags and saving the world from evil. So long as those cut scenes don't play out like bad Sega CD footage (Night Trap), this should be a fun ride.

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