Nope. I meant what I said when I said that the game feels unfinished. Whether for technical reasons or lack of time, the streets are bizarrely empty during the majority of races. Barring rival racers, you might not see a single car for several seconds at a time; in fact, you can regularly drive in the opposing lane of traffic, safe in the knowledge that you’re unlikely to hit anything except the kerb or any railings at the side. Were the game set at 4am this might be acceptable, but a lot of it is set during daylight hours. Sure, during some events – particularly highway battles – the traffic ramps up considerably, but this just makes the other stretches seem all the more odd.
And this causes problems when you bear in mind what I said earlier about the city being a blank canvas. Because the architecture itself isn’t that interesting and the streets are devoid of personality, there’s really no motivation to explore. In fact, EA seems to have recognised this, because you don’t even have to make your way from one race to the next, you can just skip through from race to chase to race with a single press of the down direction on the D-pad.
This in turn leads us to another shortfall: for a large part of its running time, NFS: Undercover is pitifully easy, and you find yourself practically sleepwalking through its steady stream of races and chases. I’m not some kind of ninja gamer or anything – and I’ve really struggled at times with the likes of Project Gotham Racing 4 or Race Driver: GRID – but I played through vast swathes of Undercover without failing a single race event. I crashed plenty of times, sometimes once or twice per lap, but I’d swear that you can see the opposition slowing down to give you a chance to catch up. Get in front in a decent car and they’re toast. One minute they’re taunting you, the next they’re not even visible on the mini-map. In roughly 85 per cent of the events in the early part of the game, there’s just not enough of a challenge to keep the action exciting.