|modes= Single-player, multiplayer
|platforms=Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, GBA
|media= CD, DVD, GCN Game Disc, GBA Cartridge
|input= PC: Keyboard, Mouse, or USB Steering Wheel/Gamepad
Need for Speed: Underground (NFSU) is the seventh racing game in the Need for Speed video game series developed by EA Black Box and published by Electronic Arts in 2003.
Underground remakes the series' formula completely with a heavy emphasis on tuner culture and a storyline-driven career mode. All races take place in a generic city at night. Rather than exotic cars, Underground featured vehicles associated with the import scene. Underground was commercially successful, and inspired a sequel.
The player starts straight into the action, at a circuit race driving a uniquely styled Acura Integra Type R with wide body kit, easily winning over his opponents...only to be woken up by Samantha from his daydreaming.
Samantha is the player's friend in the new country; she shows the player how the console with the races works, who's who, and makes fun of the player's car. Eddie (and his orange-metallic Nissan Skyline R34), is the leader of the Eastsiders and current top racer of the streets, and Melissa is his girlfriend.
Time passes, races are won. The player meets other racers, and eventually gathers a small list of nemeses that continually challenge him and are defeated. He's introduced to TJ, who promises unique vehicle upgrades in exchange of beating time trial challenges; Samantha does the same from time to time, offering unique visual modifications instead.
The player's successive victories don't impress Eddie. First, he mocks the player's skill, saying he has a long way to go to 'roll his streets'. Later in the game, the player builds enough hype to be too hard to ignore, so Eddie challenges him to beat Samantha in a sprint race before coming after him; the player's willingness in going for it infuriates her. Samantha totals her Civic's engine trying to beat the player, unsuccessfully. TJ takes the junked car for himself after the event.
When the player comes close to reaching #1 in all kinds of races, Eddie tries to once again get rid of his rival. Around the same time, the Player sees TJ in Samantha's recovered car, now working again, but has been vandalized. Both run a circuit race worth the other's vehicle, which the player wins. The player returns the car to Samantha to make amends, and she gives the player a choice of a wide body kit for his car.
Right after the touching moment, Eddie challenges the player and loses, like everyone else who ever challenged the player so far. Before any victory can be sung, a mysterious, legendary silver Nissan 350Z challenges the player for a last run through the Market Street circuit. A challenger who, after being beaten by the player, is revealed to be Eddie's girlfriend, Melissa.
That event solidifies the player's status as the new best underground racer in the city.
Circuit is a standard race that involves racing with up to four opponents' cars around a loop track for one lap or more, and is the main mode of the game. For about the last 4 races of underground mode, the number of players decreases to only 1 rival, and the number of laps reach up to seven (Endurance Race)
Knockout Mode is similar to previous Need for Speed titles, involves "knocking out" the last racer who passes the starting line in each lap until the final leader of the race remains, and wins the race. In the case of Underground, Knockout sessions have a maximum of three laps for four racers.
Sprint mode is a variation on the Circuit mode, where the contestants race in a point-to-point track instead of loop tracks. These races are typically shorter than "circuits" (with a maximum of 8 km in length), so players are required to be more cautious of any mistakes during racing.
Drifting is the most challenging and technical aspect of the game.Drifting is when during a race you intentionally slide around a corner at high speeds. Drift mode consists of one player in a short loop track, where the objective is to collect as many points as possible by drifting along the track. The player competes with three other contestants, who appear to accumulate scores along with the player during the drift session. The player would be required to beat these scores in order to obtain top positions.
Bonuses are awarded for players who drift in the outer borders of the track, drift vertically, or perform chained-drifting (continuous drifting by constantly steering the vehicle during drifts to maintain speed); if the player succeeds in ending a drift without collisions onto the sides of the track, the collected points are added into the score, otherwise, the collected points are cancelled.
Drift mode is the only type of racing where time taken to complete the track does not matter, since players are given the freedom to complete the allocated number laps at their own pace. This may explain the absence of nitrous oxide in this mode, since it serves no apparent purpose in this situation.
Drag racing is the second most technical form of race in the game. It involves racing against one or three cars on typically straight tracks, and attempting to obtain top positions to win. In order to master Drag mode, players must employ good timing and reflexes for gear shifting, redlining, overtaking, and the use of nitrous oxide boosts;Because the player is going to put the engine to its limits the mode places particular emphasis in monitoring the tachometer during races, which is enlarged and situated on the leftmost portion of the screen. Steering in this mode is simplified to simply allow for lane changes, while the computer handles the steering along the lanes, and the player focuses more on maintaining an optimum speed for the car.
Two conditions will result in players being forfeited during a drag race: head-on collisions with an opponent, barriers, traffic cars or dividers (being 'Totaled'); or blown engines as a result from prolonged redlining and the subsequent overheating of the engine.
In the "Car Customization" menu, cars can be altered with performance upgrades and visual upgrades, such as paint colors and body kits.
Player's have the ability to increase their car’s performance by applying performance upgrades to the car. The player can upgrade their car's engine, drivetrain, suspension, tires, engine control unit (ECU) as well as add nitrous oxide, turbo chargers, and reduce the car’s weight (in the form of "weight reduction packages"). These upgrades can be bought only after winning races.
Critics generally liked the game, despite primary complaints of repetitive tracks, unbalanced rubberband AI, excessive use of random traffic, and lack of an online feature in the GameCube and Xbox versions.
However, IGN gave the game a rating of 8.9 out of 10 for the PlayStation 2 version.
Underground sold 15 million copies worldwide.