Need for Speed: Undercover Coming
June 18, 2008 - To no one's surprise, EA is set to release the next installment in the Need for Speed franchise later this year in the form of Need for Speed: Undercover. In an interview with gamesindustry.biz, Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello said that the title is in development from one of EA Vancouver's two NFS teams. He also hinted that its inspiration comes from movies like The Transporter, though we'll have to wait and see what he means by that.
The single previous Need for Speed team was split into two last year to allow each of the two teams more time to create yearly updates for the franchise. Rather than giving one team only 12 months to create the next installment, each team would now have a full two years, with the teams trading release years, obviously. Being that the team was only split last year, the Undercover team will only have a little over 16 months to create the title, but the extra breathing room must certainly welcome in any case.
In the interview, Riccitiello also discussed his disappointment with last year's Need for Speed ProStreet, and said that the reason for splitting the team into to two was to help insure that future titles would actually be a worthy experience.
No consoles were specified for Undercover, but given the franchise's history, we'd expect to see it hit every major system.
Trailer - Link
There's also a teaser site up, it shows a video of two guys in a police interrogation room so you can imagine that what the game will be like. Probably something similar to the storyline of 2 Fast 2 Furious, hopefully without the horrible acting though.
Teaser Site - Link
And for anyone that doesn't know what a sandbox style game is:
Now this might just mean that free-roam is back (which it is) or it may be alluding to something like a storyline that gives you more choices than previous NFS titles. I personally am hoping that it means we'll have something to do besides just racing over and over again which can get kind of boring since they're usually stupidly easy races.
August 15, 2008 - Black Box, a studio of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS) today announced Need for Speed Undercover, the intense action racing title scheduled for release this holiday. The new game will feature international movie star, Maggie Q, as the lead character in the big-budget live-action sequences that propel the original story forward as players get behind the wheel. EA's Need for Speed Undercover takes the franchise back to its roots and re-introduces break-neck cop chases, the world's hottest cars and spectacular highway battles.
"Need for Speed Undercover features a deep and engaging story of spectacular Hollywood-style live-action that will transport players into the fictional world of the Tri-City Bay Area," said Bill Harrison, Need for Speed Undercover Executive Producer. "Working with talent the caliber of Maggie Q allows us to deliver an unparalleled level of storytelling that will keep players engaged in between 180-mile an hour races."
Maggie Q, who has starred in Mission Impossible III and Live Free or Die Hard, plays Federal Agent Chase Linh, a seductive handler who recruits and guides players as they go undercover. Players will take on dangerous jobs and compete in races in order to infiltrate and takedown a ruthless international crime syndicate.
"I've always been a fan of racing games and working on Need for Speed Undercover was an amazing experience," said Maggie Q. "I was so impressed by the scope and quality of the overall production that goes into a videogame these days. It was like any other day on a Hollywood set; I felt right at home. The Black Box team is doing tremendous work here and I can't wait to see the final game."
Need for Speed Undercover is being developed by Black Box in Vancouver, B.C., and is slated to be in stores North America on November 18 and in Europe on November 21. The game will be available for Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system, PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system, and Wii as well as the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system, Nintendo DS, PSP (PlayStation Portable) handheld entertainment system, PC and mobile. More information can be found at www.needforspeed.com.
About Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts Inc. (EA), headquartered in Redwood City, California, is the world's leading interactive entertainment software company. Founded in 1982, the Company develops, publishes, and distributes interactive software worldwide for video game systems, personal computers, cellular handsets and the Internet. Electronic Arts markets its products under four brand names: EA SPORTS, EA, EA SPORTS Freestyle and POGO. In fiscal 2008, EA posted GAAP net revenue of $3.67 billion and had 27 titles that sold more than one million copies. EA's homepage and online game site is www.ea.com.
IGN Video and Image Updates
August 20, 2008 - After EA's Studio Showcase the press received the red carpet treatment at a swank location in downtown San Francisco. Surrounded by glasses of Champaign and plush couches, EA unveiled Need for Speed Undercover by Black Box Studios.
The Need for Speed series is one of EA's biggest franchises, so it's surprising that there hasn't been any new info since the release of Carbon last year. It was all part of its strategy to go big with the announcement of the latest title. As you'll see in the coming months, presentation is a huge part of Undercover.
The game feels immediately familiar and easy to get a hold of for anyone who has played Need for Speed before. The gameplay hasn't changed drastically; Black Box knows that its fans still want a title that straddles reality and an arcade racer. What was noticeably different was the tuning of the physics, making any maneuvers using the hand-brake feel very natural.
We hopped into a game as an undercover cop in the Tri City Bay Area. Having grown up in this declining metropolis, he has a personal stake in cleaning up the streets. His partner is Federal Agent Chase Lyn, played by the gorgeous Maggie Q, who was on hand for the event. She seemed genuinely excited about the production values of the cut scenes and she equated the project with working on a major Hollywood film.
We sat down to play a couple of modes in Undercover, starting with everyone's favorite: a police chase. The match started with Bay Area's finest in hot pursuit. A divided red and blue meter at the bottom of the screen indicated how close we were to being captured or how much farther we had to distance ourselves to reach freedom. To avoid incarceration you'll need to use all sorts of crafty maneuvers, like drifts, hand break-assisted 180s and 360s and environmental hazards. You can trigger these events in certain areas that are called out on the map. Once you get far enough from the police a second countdown is initiated and you must get your ride back to the chop shop.
If you aren't quick enough, the police will expertly block off your vehicle. This triggers a stylish failure cinema where your character is filmed being roughly taken down by the law. The footage is presented COPs-style with a shaky camera and pixilated face.
The other mode we played with was a straightforward race called Highway Battle. We went up against one opponent on a race towards a pre-designated finish line. We were struck by the amount of damage caused to our car as we jockeyed for position. A once-shiny vehicle was left looking like a crumpled mess after a few collisions with highway barriers.
Producer Scott Nielsen mentioned to us that the whole game is really about chasing, and being chased. He wants to recreate the high intensity moments you see in the big action movies through something the team calls the Heroic Driving Engine. In Hot Pursuit 2 and Underground there were about 4 different components in the driving engine - now there are over 430 different components to play around with in each car to make them feel unique.
Need for Speed Undercover is looking like a very slick title and the developers were understandably excited for the press to get our hands on the game. The frame rate was a bit jumpy, which is understandable for a game so early in development, but even so it was obvious that the visuals in this title will sparkle like a newly-waxed sports car. We've got a new video for you so click below to see exactly what we're talking about.
August 20, 2008 - Black Box, a studio of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS), today unveiled new details of Need for Speed Undercover, the intense action racing game scheduled for release worldwide this November. Need for Speed Undercover has players racing through speedways, dodging cops and chasing rivals as they go deep undercover to take down an International crime syndicate. The new game heralds the return of high-intensity police chases and introduces the all-new 'Heroic Driving Engine' -- a unique technology that generates incredible high-performance moves at 180 miles per hour during breathtaking highway battles.
"Need for Speed Undercover puts you at the center of a big-budget Hollywood movie with all of the drama, action and dazzling chase scenes, right on your gaming console. The unique Heroic Driving Engine will give you ultimate control over the hottest cars and push you to use every ounce of skill to outrun the law and take down criminal adversaries," said Executive Producer Bill Harrison.
A mix of stunning computer graphics and live-action movies will immerse gamers in the rich world of the Tri-City Bay Area. The city's open-world environment features over 80 miles of roads, including an enormous highway system that sets the stage for heart-pounding highway battles. These high-speed, high-stake chase sequences will push players to the limit as they fight off cops and opponents while whipping through traffic at 180 miles per hour.
An intelligent new A.I. mechanic delivers a realistic and high-energy action driving experience. Going back to the franchise's roots, Need for Speed Undercover features more aggressive and intelligent cops whose sole purpose is to take down the player quickly and by any means necessary. Need for Speed Undercover also features the series' signature car customization, real-world damage and realistic driving physics. The game includes some of the hottest licensed cars such as the Audi R8, BMW M6 and Lexus IS-F.
Need for Speed Undercover is being developed by Black Box in Vancouver, B.C., and will be in stores in North America on November 18 and in Europe on November 21.
The game will be available for Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system, PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system, and Wii as well as the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system, Nintendo DS, PSP (PlayStation Portable) handheld entertainment system, PC and mobile. More information can be found at www.needforspeed.com.
September 17, 2008 - EA is once again returning to the track this year with Need for Speed Undercover. Shipping this November, the game boasts some very impressive cinematic work and is both a departure and return to form for the franchise. To find out what it's all about, we fired off a number of questions to Bill Harrison, executive producer on the game. Here's what he had to tell us:
IGN: What's new in Need for Speed Undercover?
Bill Harrison: Need for Speed Undercover is all about the thrill of the chase. Undercover is the ultimate fusion of stellar next generation gameplay and an engaging story with every component embodying the excitement and energy of the chase. Without a doubt, Need for Speed Undercover is a complete action driving experience.
This year, you play a rookie cop recruited to infiltrate organized gangs, accomplishing objectives to become a known wheelman. It's from this position on the inside that you work to gain the gangs' confidence and take down the operation.
Plus, we're very excited that cops and free-roaming environments are back – we know it's something fans missed in ProStreet and we're happy to bring them back.
IGN: Is the game going to be based on pre-set tracks, like ProStreet for instance, or will Undercover feature more of an open-world take on racing like we saw in Most Wanted?
Bill Harrison: Open world is definitely back. This spiritual successor to Most Wanted features a free-roaming environment with three distinct cities connected by an enormous highway system. In total, players will take out opponents and evade cops as they race along over 80 miles of roads including an enormous highway system that sets the stage for heart-pounding highway battles. These high-speed, high-stake chase sequences will push players to the limit as they fight off cops and opponents while whipping through traffic at 150 miles per hour.
IGN: The Need for Speed franchise seems to shift gears constantly with major changes in the overall design. Why is this, and what's the reason for always changing things up? Do you ever worry that you will alienate fans of a previous year's title, or is it always a forward-looking process to try something new?
Bill Harrison: There are a number of stories we can tell in the Need for Speed universe. This year, we're building a true next generation action driving game that features: innovative gameplay with our Heroic Driving Engine and all-new Highway Battle mode; an engaging cinematic story with top-tier acting and directing talent; and an expansive and varied world for gamers to explore and race.
IGN: How do the police work this time out?
Bill Harrison: We're very excited about the cops in Undercover. The whole team put a tremendous amount of effort in developing an all new and improved AI mechanics engine that ensures this year's cops are extremely aggressive and intelligent. In fact, their AI is a component of the Heroic Driving Engine – a logic control layer that allows them to use the same driving controls that the player has at his disposal.
We have also refined the heat system so that it escalates based on a player's behavior. Essentially, you're going to see cops that are focused on taking you out fast and by any means necessary.
IGN: What we've seen of the cutscenes from the game look very impressive from a cinematic standpoint, almost like a standalone film. What can you tell us about the production of these clips?
Bill Harrison: Videogames offer a complete entertainment experience with the ability to engage a player through interactive storytelling. Our FMV shoot was the biggest shoot in Need for Speed history. We made a significant investment in storytelling this year. The use of live action sets, Hollywood talent, like Maggie Q and Christina Milian, and Hollywood production techniques really helped us create one of this holiday's most complete entertainment experiences.
IGN: Will there be any way for the player to be able to queue them up and watch the cutscenes as one long film? Or better yet, are there any plans to release a special edition with all the clips edited into a single movie?
Bill Harrison: Probably not. Need for Speed Undercover is a complete interactive entertainment experience with the cutscenes supported by the gameplay. Without a doubt the best way to experience Undercover is to play it.
IGN: What can you tell us about Maggie Q's involvement in the game?
Bill Harrison: We wanted Need for Speed Undercover to be like playing an action movie and for us to accomplish this we engaged the experts in Hollywood. We filmed on live sets in LA, our director is from the TV show 24 and we engaged actors like Maggie Q. Maggie is an incredible acting talent who helped us deliver an unparalleled level of storytelling.
IGN: What sort of licensed cars will we see this time out?
Bill Harrison: We haven't announced the full car list but we will have over 55 licensed cars in the game representing some of the world's top manufacturers like BMW, Porsche and Audi to name just a few.
IGN: What can you tell us about the customization features in Undercover?
Bill Harrison: Customization is a staple of the Need for Speed franchise. In Undercover, players will be able to customize their rides to create cars that reflect a gamer's individual look and driving style. Need for Speed has always been at the cutting edge of car culture and the cars in our game are going to reflect the look of contemporary car designs with stylings like matte paint finishes and black-on-black [paint schemes].
Our deep performance tuning enables the player to dynamically adjust a vehicle's performance to exploit every aspect of our Heroic Driving Engine.
[Edited by SuperSkyline89, 9/18/2008 6:04:29 AM]
Bill Harrison: Need for Speed Undercover features real time procedural damage but we've removed the impact it has on performance. We want the player to focus on driving our cars, and their modifications, at the limit of their capabilities, not managing wobbly tires or a 15% engine torque penalty.
IGN: Speaking of driving, have you shifted the focus towards arcade or simulation-based racing more than we've seen in previous installments?
Bill Harrison: As in previous Need for Speed titles, Undercover is a contemporary take on the driving style that Need for Speed itself defined – the heart-pounding action driving between simulation and arcade. We want players to feel like they're playing a big-budget action movie. Our heroic driving engine will let players push the cars to the limit as they evade cops and takedown opponents by pulling off high-performance moves at 150 miles per hour.
IGN: Lastly, what's in store for online play?
Bill Harrison: In addition to the classic sprint and circuit race modes, Need for Speed Undercover features an all new exclusive multiplayer mode, Cops N' Robbers. This visceral team-based mode supports up to eight players and pits two teams of four players against each other. Robbers must pick up the money and take it to the drop-off point while the cops attempt to prevent the drop-off. Each game consists of two rounds giving the players the chance to play as the Cops and as the Robbers.