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Electronic Arts

1-2 Player

Game Type


Mem. Card

Review Date

June 1997

Setting the Scene

Need For Speed I was one of my all time favorite racing games. With it you could place yourself behind the wheel of some of the worlds quickest production sports cars; a Vette, Viper, Lambourgini, Ferrari, Surpra, NSX....So when Electronic Arts announced that they would be making a sequel to this great game, I couldn't wake for it to be released.

Need For Speed II promised to place the driver in exotic, super high speed sports cars seldom seen, not to mention driven, by mortal men. Imagine yourself slipping behind the wheel of a $1,000,000 McLaren for me...Giddie Yup!


Need For Speed II is a driving game with extremely high priced, in some cases "one-of-a-kind" super sports cars. Actually it is more of a driving simulation. No, no could also be an arcade racer. Yes ladies and gentlemen, NFS II tries to be all things to all people. This is usually the kiss of death...jack of all trades, excels in none...
Does NFS II succeed where others have failed? Well, you will just have to read the review to find out...


From the teaser screen shots that EA released while NFS II was still in early production the graphics looked amazingly realistic, so when I finally got my hands on the real deal it was with great anticipation that I popped that sucker in and was prepared to be knocked off of my seat. Well I guess the old saying still holds true...a picture is worth a thousand words...but the actual game graphics were a bit of a let down or more to the point, somewhat less expressive than a thousand words. I was treated to the familiar graphics fare similar to the original NFS game. The best way to describe the graphics is a muted, sort of washed out look. There were really no vibrant colors that popped out and impressed me like in "Rally Cross" for example. Not only that, but the backgrounds are also kind of grainy. This is not what I expected to find in a newly released PlayStation game. Graphics for this console have taken a big leap since the original NFS was released, this game doesn't exactly showcase that. Even the cars were not overly detailed, in addition to being on the small side. The best view is easily from inside the car. At least you are treated to a nicely detailed, fully functional dash panel.

Set the game in motion and be prepared to start scratching your head. Movement seems to in the neighborhood of 20-25 fps...a respectable number...but don't think that at any time that you will feel the sensation of speed like in a WipEout or Ridge Racer game. Don't get me wrong, the game does move along very nice and the addition of cleverly placed turns, curves and dips do indeed add to the challenge. The game just never provides you with that "wow!" factor. The nice part is that the background is fully animated. Keep your eyes peeled cause there is all sorts of stuff going on around you. One of my favorites is on the oval track and having a jumbo jet flying directly over my car!

I should mention that the split screen, two player mode drives very nicely. There is not much of a notable difference in frame rate or graphics between the one or player screens. Thank goodness for small favors.

If the textures were cleaned up a bit, the cars made slightly larger and more detailed, and the sense of speed tweaked a little more you would have yourself a triple "A" racing title here. As it stands, graphically the game is todays clogged racing market that is just not enough to take a title to the top or distinguish it from all the other racers out there.

Sounds and Effects

Now we are starting to get somewhere! Offered up in glorious Surround Sound, NFS II provides gamers with a truly remarkable sound experience. Engine and various other car sounds such as horns have been digitized and faithfully reproduced according to EA. Personally I cannot deny nor confirm this claim, having never experienced any of these cars firsthand...all I can say is that the sounds are very well done, however they were produced. In Surround mode you can hear the pack approaching you from the rear speakers. As a car passes you, the sound travels seamlessly to the front. There are also all sorts of background noises going on all around you. There is one course that takes you through what seems to be Tibet. The roads in some places are lined with bells. It's hard to explain, but cruising through the desolate frozen roadway, and hearing those bells along with the wind whipping up, gives you a sensation that is quite unique and pretty cool. It's little touches like this that really brings a game to life. All other sounds are nicely represented as well; car crashes, wall scraping, you name it... and it's in there.

The music is your standard driving hard rock variety. For me, this is a good thing. Blaring guitars, solid bass, a good driving drum sound all mix nicely to get your blood pumping. If you liked the rock soundtrack in the original NFS, you'll like this one. It cooks!


If you don't go into this game expecting Rage Racer speed, you may be okay...After reading all of the previews and seeing all of the pretty pictures, I could not wait to rip into this game. After all, EA claimed that a whole new engine was being used for this puppy. While I kinda liked the old NFS engine just fine, I figured by now a new one would make sense. Well, I was rather surprised...The new engine, the graphics, sound, virtually the whole package did not add up to a better game than the original, just a different one. Strange indeed.

The new menu system is nicely done if not without it's quirks. From here you can select the game mode, location (track), car, opponents, config options and race. Game mode allows you to select one player or two player split screen; tournament, single or knockout races; arcade or simulation styles and catch up. Tournament is the typical you against the pack race, where you challenge the other 7 drivers on the six tracks in the game. Win the Tournament mode and you are presented with a bonus car (the Ford Indigo!). Knockout pits you against the other drivers in a series of 2-lap races. At the end of each race the slowest driver is eliminated. Be the last to survive and you are awarded the bonus track. Both of these races start you in the advanced driving mode so get ready.

Next is the tracks. They range anywhere from a rather simple oval to treacherous, twisty, snow covered passageways. Track design is truly exceptional. It really forces you to learn to shift and brake at the proper moments to really squeeeze the most out of your car. For the most part, each track even allows you some slack to drive a bit off the road and not crash. Hell, one track even has a dirt road that runs parallel to the main one for a short distance...just don't stay on it too long!

Time to select your car...ah yes, the cars. The most exotic street legal demons and concept cars ever to be assembled for a game. You can select from a McLaren F1 (my favorite), Ferrari F50, Ford GT90, Jaguar XJ220, Lotus GT1, Lotus Esprit V8, Italdesign Cala and the mysterious Commendatore 112i. Each car has it's own handling characteristics, top end and acceleration. What the hell, test drive 'em all...your sure to find one that suits you. You can now customize your car with choice of colors, spoiler settings, gear ratios, brake bias, and auto or manual transmission. There is also a Showcase mode that enables you to view car info, videos, pictures and a brief history of the cars manufacturer. Tasty.

Now that you have your car, select your opponent(s). Race against the pack or select a one-on-one match-up with or without a full grid of local "Sunday" drivers such as trucks, buses, cars and a few other surprises.

Cool, almost ready...go to the options menu and select the sound mode (Dolby Surround is an option!), memory card stuff and controller config. To my surprise, the new Sony Dual Analog controller is indeed supported....COOL! Alright, enough...let's rock.

Okay, so you jump into your purple, suped to max McLaren F1 and take to the track. 3...2...1 - your off! Well, kinda...from the heli cam or tail cam view your car seems to just slide sloppily from side to side, very stiffly instead of rolling when going into a turn or cutting lanes. I decide to switch to the in-car cam view...ah, much better. In here I am treated to a wonderful inside the car view complete with a functional dashboard. Control now seems much better as well. I increase the cars throttle only to realize that I am already doing over 200mph, gee it sure don't "feel" that way. Dont' get me wrong here, everything moves along quite nicely; you just never get that intense adrenaline rush of speed. After playing around for awhile I realize it's actually the problem of the road textures that prevent this illusion. At times they almost seem to be keeping up with my car instead of providing that feeling of forward momentum. This is something that I could never quite get over with this game. It didn't ruin it for me, but I was disappointed all the same.

After spending a great deal of time with this title, I started to appreciate the challenge that was offered to me though. Each car, when driven from inside view does seem to handle very different from each other. The courses are laid out very nicely and are very different from one another. I found that after my initial shock with the graphics and handling, the game actually started to grow on me. Getting the tracks down to memory and exploring all of the "shortcuts" really go a long way to making this title a very enjoyable ride.

Value for Money

There are a ton of options and driving modes for you to toy with. There are even codes available that let you drive all of the cars and trucks that you see on the roads. This is very, very tasty indeed. Whether you have the first Need For Speed or not, if you enjoy driving games I would recommend that you get this game or at least give it a rental. It provides a nice challenging alternative to some of the more "arcade oriented" racers out there and a good bang for your buck.





If you can get past the initial graphics shock and strange control issues that I have described above, this game should provide hours of challenging races. I would highly recommend the purchase of an analog control device for this game, whether it be the NeGcon or Mad Catz...the game is a beast in digital mode. The game also supports the new Sony Dual Analog pad, so if you have the spare cash grab one on the import market...the improved control factor is worth it.
You are given tons of options and a very good car selection. The game also rocks in the two player split screen mode. All of that along with the diverse track selection, in my opinion make this game a winner. It may not appeal to the hard core arcade racing fans out there, but for the more simulation minded gamers out there that appreciate a touch of arcade action, this title is sure to please.











The original still holds a special place in the hearts of many PSX gamers. This game improves on that format and provides many vehicles to try out.








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