NFS Undercover tweaks and mini review. 27 replies

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#1 10 years ago

OK, I know there are some avid race game fans here and despite this game getting some pretty bad reviews, I thought I'd share what I've learned and experienced with it. Some of you just might get quite a lot of entertainment out of it.

At first play, or more like struggling through half of career mode, I was quite put off by loads of lag, hiccuping, and even numerous times having my car freeze as if in a stop motion Speedbreaker pause whilst sections of map ahead load into view. This bred a love/hate affair because quite frankly, some of the race action in the game I found addictive.

No more do you need to drive around to find random race events or even major career level up events. They're pretty much phoned to you by your contacts and at any time you can hit Tab to launch the event shown on screen, which is typically either the one you are closest to at the time or one that is part of the career mode.

I would say the game has a look and feel somewhere between Most Wanted and Pro Street, though IMHO the cars handle way better than in Pro Street and once you get the right performance tweaks going, plays smoothly enough. More on that later.

The Highway Battles are a new type of challenge whereby you must start out behind your opponent on a fairly traffic cluttered freeway and get ahead of them by 1000' to win. They start you out in what appears to be bumper or hood view by default, apparently to make the dodging of cars quicker.

I use close behind view instead because the default view IMO is too low and what they suffice for cockpit view is actually more like windshield view with a slight zoom, making the FOV all wrong for planning your moves. None the less Highway Challenge is an adrenaline rush and some of the better race action in the game.

You will also be sent on various missions by both the underground you're trying to get close to and the detective (Maggie Q) you work for. Stealing cars and getting away from cops with minimal damage to them is the main job type for the thugs, though I encountered one unique 2 part mission called Transporter (sound familiar), where you have to steal a car, then deliver a package.

Maggie will mainly send you out on races that get you deep into the underground and occasionally have you take out thugs on the road once you've infiltrated them enough to find the intel she wants. This involves using your car to bash into theirs repeatedly until it's disabled, which can involve cops in two ways. They'll sometimes be sent out to bust you in the act, but Maggie will call in undercover cops to clean up after you've disabled the thug's cars. Then there's a pretty little grease monkey named Carmen, that needs your help from time to time.

I'm nearly done with career mode (95%), and about 75% done with the game. There's no drift, but there are outruns, except they don't happen randomly by hitting your lights when near a racer, they're events you enter. There are pursuit breakers like in Most Wanted but a lot more frustating to find. They can easily devastate several vehicles if used well though.

The graphics in the game are pretty good. The sky, buildings, cars and terrain can look awesome if you have the hardware to drive it to the max, but even at lowest settings like I use it looks pretty good. I can't tell you too much about the story or it will spoil it for you, but if the ending is like it's looking to shape up, it may not be as good as Most Wanted's was.

Now for those performance tweaks. For those of you with modest spec like me you're going to have to drop a lot of things to their lowest in the menu, like World Detail (Low), World Effects (Off) and Shadows (Off). Aside from that you can go into the registry to HK_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\EA Games\Need for Speed Undercover, and edit some of the values.

The main one is g_PerformanceLevel. Set it from 0 to 2. Some say you can also set g_CarLoadLevel to 2, but that one I question. I'm pretty sure 0 is the lower value there. At any rate, I have a P4 3Ghz, X1950Pro 512MB, 2GB RAM spec on AGP platform using XP and these are the reg settings I use. [COLOR=Blue] undercoverregtweakslr8.jpg[/COLOR]

With the above settings and everything in the menu as low as possible, except res at 1280x960 to avoid jaggies, I average 30-50 FPS, dipping as low as 20 when there are lots of cops. Believe it or not even at those settings the graphics look pretty good, better than Pro Street IMO. This game also has way better race courses than Pro Street. The sprints, circuits and checkpoint races are all very well laid out and exhilarating. There is no drag though, but I don't miss it.

Note however, there is one caveat with performance, even after the tweaks. The game still loads laggy sometimes, you'll know it right away if the menu navigates extremely slow. If that happens, exit the game then relaunch it. It seems to cure the problem. Another annoying problem I've had is occasional crashes to desktop while racing like Most Wanted did, only instead of just happening after 20 min or more of a bounty run, it seems to happen as I'm about to smack a wall hard.

It could be a physics thing due to my 3Ghz single core, which I think is below even the min spec of 3.2Ghz, or it could be memory leaks in the game, as the relaunching fix seems to indicate it doesn't cache textures well. Either way, it doesn't happen often enough to keep me from enjoying the heck out of the game, though I wish like many others do EA would release a patch. I've read they already came out with a performance patch for the 360 version that raises frame rates.




Chocu1a

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#2 10 years ago

could you post some screens so we can see your tweaks in action?




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Modern Warfare

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#3 10 years ago
Count_Chocu1a;4706086could you post some screens so we can see your tweaks in action?

I take it you mean you're a bit skeptical as to how good the graphics look with such low settings? Screens won't show you how much smoother it runs. I'll try and make a video of a checkpoint run. If for some reason I have difficultyu with that, I'll post up some screens. ;)

As for the graphic quality, let me just say this. I was doing some races earlier tonight and almost crashed due to marveling at the look of the sky. About all lowering settings does is remove fancy features like high gloss car detail, car reflections, blur/bloom effects, etc. The textures themselves still look pretty good.




Chocu1a

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#4 10 years ago

no...not skeptical...I have not played it. I have only read that the game looks bad(worse than NFSMW). I honestly would like to see how it looks running on your system, as I have dual 8800 gt cards & wouldn't mind trying the game. I have also read that the gameplay is horrible at first, but gets much better as it progresses. I read that there is a "HD pack" out on the web for it, also.




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#5 10 years ago

The only gripe I had was terrible frame rates causing long pauses when map sections load in the middle of a race, lots of lag when the cops are out in full force, and hiccups.

Pretty much all that went away when I used the above performance tweaks I found. I only get minor lag when there's lots of cops now, that's it. No map load freezing, no hiccups.

Here's that video I promised. Do to Fraps being so resource intense I did get a few map load pauses I had to edit out. It cut my 40-50 FPS average down to half that. When you dip below 25 FPS average you start getting into map load pauses.

This is a checkpoint race after giving my Gallardo a coat of red gloss paint. Quite frankly I was surprised it even shows the gloss so well at such low settings. The video doesn't do quite the justice the actual look in game does, but if you download vs stream it it's close enough to get an idea.

[COLOR=Blue]NFS Undercover Checkpoint Race[/COLOR]

With dual 8800GT in SLI you'll be able to play the game easily with good settings, esp if you use the registry tweak. For those whom have mediocre spec like me though, here's what you can expect if the FPS average dips below 25. Just remember to try relaunching the game if you still have lag after the tweak, it seems to work every time.

[COLOR=Blue]Edited Map Pauses[/COLOR]




random_soldier1337

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#6 10 years ago

Hey could someone give me a bit of advice. I wonder whether it is my GPU, drivers or GFX settings (because I have noticed that in certain games too low of certain settings can cause GFX giltches). Anyhow, the game works fine, I don't remember all the settings. I am unsure mostly but as far as I remember I have all special effects and everything at max except shadows which are off and anti-aliasing which I don't remember what I set it to. I think there was another similar feature like that that I changed. What happens is that at some distance there is a band of white over the entire horizon of models/objects that keeps moving as I move towards it and it seems as if the models/objects in that area are failing to show their colors and textures for some reason as if some sort of mirage effect of reflective effect was trying to be made but is failing to come up. Everything beyond that band shows up fine as well as everything before it but nothing on it and it keeps moving with my movement. Any ideas?




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#7 10 years ago

Take a screenshot of it if you can. Just use the PrtScrn key and save it with Paint or use the Fraps demo. If you have good enough spec to use at least Low level shadows, I would recommend that over maxing all other settings, even if it means setting World Effects to Off. World Effects is just Blur and Bloom. I really don't like that you can't separately adjust them. It would be nice if you could turn Blur off and use Low on Bloom. A subtle amount of Bloom adds a nice touch, esp with shadows enabled.




random_soldier1337

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#8 10 years ago

Sorry about all the hubbub. I checked all the settings. For some reason anti-aliasing while being on, YES WHILE BEING ON, was causing that white band GFX glitch. So now I have turned it off and I play with every setting maxed except resolution (1024x768), Shadows (off), Car damage (off; what can I say I just don't like my car looking botched). It runs at just about the right and comfortable FPS for me to play and enjoy (despite the fact I haven't done any maintenance like in a few months like defrags and all). Only problem is now that I don't get the same quality of image. Earlier with 4x anti-aliasing, I still got 1280x1024 resolution quality on 800x600 resolution (at least that is the kind of sensation my eyes got) but now even at the resolution I am playing everything appears dirty and jagged unless I switch to 1280x1024 in which the FPS are still playable but a tad-bit uncomfortable for a racer like this requiring reflexes. Any suggestions now? Also I found no rain on/off option ingame nor was there any rain effect whereas in your list of reg settings it suggests a rain on/off option. Well I suppose the fact that there was no rain is obviously because it may be set to off by default but my question is that why isn't the option ingame itself? Do you seriously have to manually edit it via the game files?




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#9 10 years ago

Yeah I do recall some saying that AA wasn't working properly. There's a workaround some used that supposedly fixes it, but I find using the right res is better for me as far as removing jaggies and keeping the FPS high enough. What I did was set res to 1280x960, which on my 21" CRT (20" viewable) eliminates most of the jaggies. It of course depends on your display size, but often times bumping the res up a bit makes more sense than enabling AA as far as both removing jaggies and keeping FPS high enough to play smoothly.

I average a good 30-50 FPS on events where there's no cops. If you start dipping below 30 FPS average, esp 25 or less, you'll have problems with lag and even your car freezing in place in spots (under 25 FPS) with a Speedbreaker effect where the FOV zooms and the screen turns a slight bluish tint while the map section ahead loads into view. It can be quite annoying and makes it hard to keep from crashing into things.

If you think you have a good enough rig to enable Low Shadows, I would try disabling World Effects altogether (Off). You can also set Car Detail lower, as well as World Detail. It makes sense to use at least Low Shadows if you can because the game looks much better with them on.




random_soldier1337

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#10 10 years ago

I don't think 1280x960 is an option for me either because My GPU doesn't support that resolution or my monitor doesn't (is that possible?). Either way I don't see that as an option for resolution in the resolution setting. As for the game itself I'm not sure what FPS counts as comfortable because I think I am able to play it relatively comfortably with the settings in my previous post during all situations. The only thing that makes me crash is the fact that I don't let go of the accelerator and hardly use speedbreaker (can't be used since it regenerates so badly and has to generate at the start of the race). Seriously dude, you got some skillz. How are you driving at 150 MPH so smoothly? I don't know how that much is in Km/h but I keep screwing up and getting reduced to 150-250 Km/h and have to constantly use N2O. As for shadows, I'm not sure I want to enable them on low because they tend to act unrealistically i.e. they only generate up to a certain point. I tried and the effect on FPS didn't really make a difference to me with the current settings until I jumped to medium. At that point the shadows were actually good and realistic as in pre-generated and actually like real shadows but problem was that the FPS were bugging me a bit. Mind you there was still quite good and playable FPS just not enough for me to feel that I would be able to handle myself well while playing. Besides I'm more of a visual effects and eye-candy person in the graphics department so If I'd have to sacrifice the quality of a bunch of other visual effects just to raise one effect just a bit, I'd rather not. Also what about that rain thing (check my previous post if you don't know what I am talking about)?