I got the NFS: Underground game for Christmas for PS2. I must say, it's a pretty solid game. A good escape for those who are intrigued and kind of have a soft spot for the import tuner lifestyle, but wouldn't dare do any of those mods to his own car or dress like that kind of a fool. Oh and I could definetly not listen to the music they listen to all day long. Oww, my head would be pounding.
Anyways, the game is very sold, the cars start off pretty weak but you can upgrade with all sorts of goodies for them as you earn parts and such. THe graphics are top notch, music is very fitting, and while the physicalities of the racing it not ultra realistic it gives an alright interpetation of speed and is a fun game. The only other games I ever played more of straight hourse wise were GTA and GT3: A-spec. I played this game for about 6 hours straight this morning and it never got old. I didn't want to put the controller down.
For a starting car, I would recommend the Mazda Miata, you'll get alot of grief and mocking but it's the only RWD car for a long time until you earn the RX-7 or the Supra. Trust me, RWD is the way to go, you pull speed alot better and turn much better then the FWD imports.
Very good races, not all straight line drags, though, those are cools, watch out for traffic, it'll end you fast! And some very dramatic races too, like the train jump at the end of the drag, hmm, The Fast and Furious me think?
I'll attach some pics of my Miata in the game just as a little showing of what you can get a car to look like about 1/3 of the way into the game, or atleast the missions. The car isn't all show either, the carbon fiber hood saves alot of weight, it does 0-60 in about 5seconds FLAT and it's topped out at over 175+MPH, with the N20 shot.
Excuse the picture quality, my digital camera is a 4+yr old Sony Mavica that runs on 3.5" floppy discs and I doubt is over 1 megapixel