Auto-translation used

Game design in the genre of arcade racing: Retro games of the 2000s

The Olympic City night from Need for Speed Underground fell into the hearts of many gamers of the 2000s, but how exactly did the game capture the hearts of the audience?

Today we'll talk about the second part of a great series of races, which set the trend for how a good arcade game about illegal racing should look. 

Need for Speed: Underground is not just a game, but a phenomenon of its time. The release of the game in 2003 came at the peak of the popularity of street racing, largely inflated by the movie "Fast and Furious".

Underground successfully captured these trends, offering players the atmosphere of illegal races, bright cars with neon and the lights of the night city. Wide customization of the aesthetics of cars.

At that time, such topics were relatively new and fresh, which made Underground one of the most discussed projects of those years. The game was not the first in the street racing genre (for example, Midnight Club already had two parts), but it became one of the most iconic.

Why did the players like Underground so much?

  • **Atmosphere: The game immerses you into the world of illegal racing, where the spirit of freedom and excitement reigns. Night cities, bright cars, neon lights - all this creates a unique atmosphere.
  • **Gameplay: Underground offers simple and addictive gameplay that is easy to master, but difficult to master perfectly. A variety of modes, cars and tracks does not let you get bored.
  • **Tuning: One of the main features of the game is the ability to tune your cars. Players can change almost everything in them, from appearance to technical characteristics.
  • **Music: There is great music playing in the Underground, which perfectly complements the atmosphere of the game.

Need for Speed: Underground is not just a race, but a true legend that has left its mark on the history of the gaming industry.

Need for Speed: Underground is an open-world arcade race where players can freely explore the city, participate in various races and tune their cars.

Game Modes:

  • Plot: The player goes through the career of a street racer, competing with other racers and earning money.
  • Fast race: The player can choose any track and car and just drive.
  • Drift: The player must type points for completing drifts.
  • Drag: The player must reach the finish line first by driving on a straight track.


Underground has offered extensive opportunities for tuning cars. Players could change almost everything in them, from appearance to technical characteristics. Personally, I also spent a lot of time combining the wheels with the neon color. In those days, schoolchildren often bragged to each other about their virtual cars. Before Underground, racing games often focused on graphics, physics, and controls. The visual component was usually limited to choosing the color of the car. 

The forces spent on creating the appearance seem to bring you closer to your racing car, increasing your attachment to it. This is no longer a faceless car made in accordance with the tastes of the developers, but a full-fledged comrade in whom you have invested a piece of your soul.


 The unique arcade physics of the Underground, gives players dynamic and exciting driving, despite the lack of full realism. In this game, each car has its own unique character and style, allowing players to experience each turn and drift differently.

One of the main attractions of the game is the opportunity to experience the individuality of each car. When choosing a car to participate in races, players quickly realize which car is more convenient for them to drift or compete in ring races. This creates a unique game experience for each player and adds depth to the vehicle selection process.

It's just a pity that the developers did not provide for the possibility of buying several cars at once. Instead, when purchasing a new car, all purchases from the previous vehicle are automatically transferred to the new one, including spare parts and visual design elements. This creates an aesthetic dilemma for the players, but does not jeopardize the gameplay itself due to the abundance of game currency and the availability of new cars.


The storyline branching in the "Need for Speed" series with the introduction of narrative elements into the game is a real breakthrough in the genre of racing games. Although his presence was limited to rare videos and brief monologues, it greatly enriched the gaming experience. Now players needed not only to win races, but also to get involved in an exciting story arc, where each mission had its own meaning and purpose.

In "Need for Speed Underground" you find yourself in the role of a novice racer dreaming of fame and recognition on the night streets of the city. Gradually, you come into confrontation with Eddie, the king of street racing, whose name has become a symbol of status and power in the world of auto racing. On your way to success, you will meet many interesting characters who are ready to help you or become your rivals, giving the game additional depth and emotional saturation.

This innovation not only gave the game "Need for Speed Underground" an additional layer of depth, but also made it more attractive to a wide range of players interested not only in speed, but also in a fascinating and exciting story.

Musical accompaniment:

The music in "Need for Speed Underground" really played a huge role in creating the atmosphere of the game and left an indelible mark on the hearts of many players. When we remember this game, the first thing that comes to mind is its amazing soundtrack, which accompanied us throughout the races through the night streets of the city.

Opening the game and hearing the iconic track Lil Jon & The Eastside Boyz — Get Low, we immediately plunge into the atmosphere of fast and adrenaline racing action. From time to time, we enjoyed the sounds of artists such as Rob Zombie, Junkie XL, The Crystal Method, Static-X, Story of the Year, and many others whose music emphasized the dynamism and energy of the gameplay.

These sounds and melodies have become an integral part of the "Need for Speed Underground" gaming experience and remain the hallmark of this project even years after its release. For many players, listening to the soundtrack of this game becomes a source of nostalgia and memories of the days spent driving virtual racing cars.

The engine:

Underground uses the engineCriterion Games " RenderWare ". This engine was quite popular at the time and allowed you to create beautiful and dynamic games (for example, the beautiful Burnout Paradise).

Advantages of the engine:

  • Beautiful graphics of its time
  • Dynamic gameplay
  • Good optimization

Disadvantages of the engine:

  • By the time the game was released, it was outdated
  • Demanding of hardware during development

The epilogue:

"Need for Speed Underground" really became a breakthrough in the series and had a significant impact on the development of the racing game genre. This game not only inspired many subsequent projects, but also left an unforgettable mark on the hearts of many players.

Despite its shortcomings, "NFS Underground" remains a classic and attracts players with its unique atmospheric world of night street racing. Returning to this game after two decades causes excitement and nostalgia, and its importance in the history of the gaming industry is difficult to overestimate.

Thank you for a pleasant trip to Olympic City and for the inspiration to plunge into the world of night racing again!

Comments 2

Login to leave a comment