Ever wanted to drive an exotic car really fast with no fear of reprisal? Thanks to Electronic Arts, now you can. EA has continued their excellent Need for Speed series with The Need for Speed 2 Special Edition, featuring no less than 12 of the most exotic production cars ever built. Take off in the likes of the Ferrari F50, Ford GT90, Lotus GT1, JaguarXJ220, and the McLaren F1 - currently the fastest production car built, to name a few. The special edition includes four new cars, the Ferrari 355 F1, Italdesign Nazca C2, Ford Mustang Mach III, and the Ford Indigo. You'll have seven tracks to test these babies out on. Tool around the Proving Grounds in Norway, the Mediterraneo island of Greece, the Pacific Spirit in Canada, and the Outback of Sydney - just make sure you stay on the left side of the road there. Every one of the tracks is translated beautifully for the game, each turn takes you through one incredible view after another. The level of detail present in the locations is just incredible, everything looks quite realistic. The cars themselves also look fantastic, from the interior views with highly designed instrument panels, to the external views of the cars as they zoom around the roads. You may choose any of four views as you race around the roads: internal, external behind, external above, and bumper view. Sound effects in the game are also wonderful, you'll hear your tires squeal as you tear up the track. Each car has it's own distinctive sounding horn as well. The music is fantastic, the tracks having great background tunes playing, and even the music playing between races is excellent. You'll have a ton of setup options with this game - choose your car, track, opponents, degree of realism, detail level, etc. Everything is configurable. Take off on the road by yourself, or bring along a full grid of racers along for the ride. Even traffic may be turned on or off. Three realism settings exist for your convenience - arcade, wild style, and simulation. You can make the game as real as you like, or just tear up the road without worrying about accidents. Actually, you can purposely be a menace if you like. The driving models are wonderful, taken from the statistics of the actual cars. Not that I've driven any of these beauties, but it sure seems like this is what it should feel like. You get a real sense of speed from this game, unlike some that just move you along, you are on the edge of your seat the whole time here. In fact, I have only one complaint about the game, and that is the 3D acceleration support. This is another one of those games that has forsaken the standad and provided '3Dfx only' support. So those of us with other accelerators are left in the dust once again. Hey guys! Direct3D is a STANDARD! Stop programming for proprietary chipsets and use the one that everyone can enjoy. It would have been nice if everyone could appreciate the accelerated graphics, but unfortunately that's not to be the case once again. Too bad. Still, the unaccelerated graphics look great in Need for Speed II. If you're a racing fan, or just love exotic cars, this is an excellent game and is well worth your time and money. It runs well, looks great, and is a ton of fun to play. It's totally customizable, so anyone can tweak it to play just as they like. A lot of care was taken to produce this game, and it shows.
Bottom Line: Great simulation, fantastic cars, lovely tracks, and just plain fun. Totally customizable so anyone can enjoy.