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Need for Speed: Underground

From PCGamingWiki, the wiki about fixing PC games
Need for Speed: Underground
Need for Speed: Underground cover
EA Black Box
Electronic Arts
Release dates
Windows November 17, 2003
Metacritic 82
Monetization One-time game purchase
Microtransactions None
Modes Singleplayer, Multiplayer
Pacing Real-time
Perspectives First-person, Third-person
Controls Direct control
Genres Racing
Vehicles Automobile, Street racing
Art styles Realistic
Themes Contemporary
Series Need for Speed: Underground, Need for Speed
Need for Speed: Underground on HowLongToBeat
Need for Speed: Underground on IGDB
Need for Speed: Underground guide on StrategyWiki
Need for Speed: Underground on MobyGames
Need for Speed: Underground on Wikipedia
Need for Speed: Underground
Subseries of Need for Speed
Need for Speed: Underground 2003
Need for Speed: Underground 2 2004


SafeDisc retail DRM does not work on Windows Vista and later (see Availability for affected versions).

Need for Speed: Underground is a singleplayer and multiplayer racing game developed by EA Black Box and published by Electronic Arts. It is the seventh entry in the Need for Speed series and the first entry in the Need for Speed: Underground duology.

Unlike past Need for Speed games which has exotic cars, Underground features JDM cars as the game centers around the import racing/tuning scenes. It is also the first game in the series to have a career mode that have a comprehensive storyline, and a garage mode that allowed players to fully customize their cars with a large variety of performance and visual upgrades. The career mode's story takes place in the fictional Olympic City and focus on an unnamed racer as they race to become the best underground racer in the city. The story continued in Need for Speed: Underground 2.

It was released in North America on November 17, 2003, followed by Europe and Japan releases on November 17, 2003 and January 15, 2004 respectively.


Source DRM Notes Keys OS
Disc check (requires the CD/DVD in the drive to play)
CD key
SafeDisc 2.90.040 DRM[Note 1]
SafeDisc retail DRM does not work on Windows Vista and later (see above for affected versions).
This game is not available digitally.
A faithful, higher quality icon can be found on NFSCars or on SteamGridDB.


Type Notes
One-time game purchase The game requires an upfront purchase to access.

Essential improvements


Patch 4

NFS Underground Widescreen Fix

Add support for widescreen resolutions among other things.

Skip intro videos

Use Widescreen Fix
  1. Install NFS Underground Widescreen Fix.
  2. Open NFSUnderground.WidescreenFix.ini.
  3. Change SkipIntro = 0 to SkipIntro = 1.

Game data

Configuration file(s) location

System Location
Windows HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\EA GAMES\Need For Speed Underground\[Note 2]
%PROGRAMDATA%\NFS Underground\*.cfg[Note 3]
%PROGRAMDATA%\NFS Underground\*.opt[Note 3]

Save game data location

System Location
Windows %PROGRAMDATA%\NFS Underground\*.ugd[Note 3]



Set windowed/borderless/windowed with resizing[3]
  1. Install NFS Underground Widescreen Fix.
  2. Set WindowedMode to desired value. 1 for borderless, 2 for border, 3 for resizeable border.

Anti-aliasing (AA)

On AMD cards, supersampling must be used, otherwise various objects will not render (wheels, leaves, fences, driver, etc.). Motion blur might also have to be disabled.
Forcing MSAA with dgVoodoo 2
  1. Download dgVoodoo 2.
  2. Copy \dgVoodoo2\MS\x86\D3D9.dll into <path-to-game>.
  3. Configure dgVoodoo2 using dgVoodooCpl.exe to enable MSAA antialiasing under the DirectX tab.

High frame rate

Use ThirteenAG's fix[4]
  1. Install NFS Underground Widescreen Fix.
  2. Set FPSLimit to desired value. -1 is recommended to match monitor's refresh rate.


Very high frame rates may be difficult to achieve due to the game only using a single processing thread. See workaround.
Higher frame rates may cause the game to run faster than usual.
The intensity of motion blur and the light trail post-processing effects are reduced at higher frame rates.


Input settings
Input settings

Keyboard and mouse State Notes
Mouse acceleration
Mouse sensitivity
Mouse input in menus
Mouse Y-axis inversion
Controller support
Use NFS Underground Widescreen Fix to adjust deadzone.
Full controller support
Use NFSU XtendedInput.
Controller remapping
Controller sensitivity
Controller Y-axis inversion
Controller types
XInput-compatible controllers
Use NFSU XtendedInput.
Xbox button prompts
Use NFSU XtendedInput.
Set ControllerIconMode = 0 in NFSUnderground.WidescreenFix.ini
Impulse Trigger vibration
DualShock 4 controllers
See DualShock 4.
DualShock button prompts
Use NFSU XtendedInput.
Set ControllerIconMode = 1 in NFSUnderground.WidescreenFix.ini
Light bar support
Connection modes unknown
Generic/other controllers
Additional information
Controller hotplugging
Haptic feedback
For XInput controllers see here. Keep in mind that the force feedback feature for PC version was made with steering wheel in mind and differs from console versions.
Simultaneous controller+KB/M

NFSU XtendedInput

Improves gamepad support by implementing native XInput support into the game.
Reimplements console-like controls with being able to move the camera with the right stick in Garage.
Xbox and PlayStation prompts are both supported.
Restores leftover features from Hot Pursuit 2.
Controls are reset to default.


Audio settings
Audio settings

Audio feature State Notes
Separate volume controls
Surround sound
Only Stereo and Mono available. Optimized for Dolby Pro Logic.
Only available in certain language edition.
Closed captions
Mute on focus lost
EAX support
Although not advertised as such the game does support EAX, at least reverb effects, but without surround sound. It can be restored with ALchemy.
Royalty free audio
The main menu uses licensed music. It is hardcoded to play Get Low (ft. The Eastside Boyz) by Lil Jon every time the game starts.
DirectSound can be restored with wrappers (DSOAL recommended, e.g. w/o HRTF - specifically for low quality engine sounds).


Language UI Audio Sub Notes
Traditional Chinese
Fan translation, download.
Brazilian Portuguese
Fan translation, download.
Russian localisaton by 1С-СофтКлаб, reworked to be compatible with mods.
Fan translation, download.

Manually change game's language

Registry edit to change game language
  1. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\EA Games\Need For Speed Underground\.
  2. Find the Language key and double click it.
  3. Change the value to the following list below:
    • English US
    • Chinese (Traditional)
    • Dutch
    • French
    • German
    • Italian
    • Korean
    • Russian
    • Spanish
    • Swedish


Certain languages may not work for FMV and voices if the installed game doesn't come with it. You can download them here.
The drag racing tutorial doesn't work for Dutch and Swedish languages. See workaround.


Multiplayer types

Type Native Players Notes
Local play
Console versions only.
LAN play
4 Use NFS U LAN Mod.
Online play
4 The official multiplayer service was shut down in 2006.[5] However, a fan-made server emulator was developed and can be used instead.[6]

Connection types

Type Native Notes
Only user-created lobbies with user-created races.
A server is always required.
A developer-hosted server was available until it's shutdown. Unofficial server software like NFS U LAN Mod and Need For Speed: Underground Server are available. There is also a new client (kickStart NFSU Netplay Launcher) which provides a list of servers which can be selected for online play from within the software.
Not supported.
Direct IP
Not supported.


Protocol Port(s) and/or port range(s)
TCP 10900-10999
UDP 3658, 3659
Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) support status is unknown.

VR support

3D modes State Notes
Nvidia 3D Vision
Use Helix's 3D fix
User created game profile, see important setting hints in the vorpx forum profile introduction.

Issues fixed

Low frame rate due to game using single core

Use dxvk to wrap D3D9 API calls to Vulkan[7]
This may reduces overall CPU usage and overhead but increases GPU usage; however, results may vary.
Texture mods using TexMod and anisotropic filtering settings forced through GPU control panel will not be applied.[8]

Game is not running in installed language version

This might happens for non-US version game installer in which the registry is installed into wrong path
Registry fix[9]
  1. Run regedit.
  2. Find the registry path of HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\EA Games\.
  3. Change the key name NFS Underground which is under EA Games into Need For Speed Underground.

The drag racing tutorial doesn't work for Dutch and Swedish languages

Copy or rename files
  1. Go to <path-to-game>\Movies\
  2. Rename or copy eng_drag.mad with the following names
    • dut_drag.mad if you are using Dutch language.
    • swe_drag.mad if you are using Swedish language.

Custom bindings lost on game restart

Windows Vista and later lack a file needed for the game to remember custom mappings.
Download dimap.dll[citation needed]
  1. Download dimap.dll.
  2. Extract it into the installation folder.

The game doesn't load (stuck on initial loading screen)

This probably caused by an compatibility issue on modern systems.[citation needed]
Use dgVoodoo [citation needed]
  1. Download the latest version of dgVoodoo 2 and extract the archive.
  2. Open the MS\x86 folder and copy the D3D9.dll file.
  3. Paste the file into the game installation folder where the game executable is.
This is likely caused by multi-monitor setups using multiple GPU's.[citation needed]
Potential workaround[citation needed]
  1. Turn off monitors which use another GPU or monitor duplication when starting up the game
  2. Turn it on once the game finishes loading if you still need them
Another problem might be missing cutscene files which are not found in non-US version of the game if the game is run in Windows 10 and above
Cutscene files restoration[10]
  1. Download the missing cutscene files.
  2. Extract into <path-to-game>\Movies.
  3. Run the game.

Can't install both NFS Underground and NFS Most Wanted (2005) on the same PC

This problem occurs because both games use the same name for their main executables (speed.exe). After installing one game and attempting to install the other, its autorun program assumes it's already been installed.
Workaround: rename executable of already installed game[11]
  1. Install the first game. It doesn't matter whether it's Underground or Most Wanted.
  2. Go to the installation folder of the just installed game.
  3. Change the name of speed.exe to anything else.
  4. Install the other game.
  5. Restore the original name of the first game's speed.exe.

Controller deadzone issues

Fix left stick deadzone[12]
  1. Install NFS Underground Widescreen Fix.
  2. Deadzone can be adjusted in NFSUnderground.WidescreenFix.ini.
Use NFSU XtendedInput

The game occasionally freezes on loading screen or after race

Install latest patch (or binary) 1.4 or 1.3.4

Copying proper .exe for EU or US version should suffice.[13] Although patcher also extracts filter.efx (possibly NOS black screen effect fix) to the patch exe folder if proper game binary or registry entry is not found. Widescreen patch compatibility not tested. If all above fail, reinstall the game, and use e.g. 1.0 version (afterwards, replacing exe and filter.efx should suffice). The problem can happen e.g. after Samantha Time Trial 2:07 (hard), on 1.4 binary version, and is gone on 1.3.4.

Remove dimap.dll from game-folder

If the game just freezes for a short amount of time while loading, then this can be solved by removing the dimap.dll from the game-folder. Keep in mind that this can have the side-effect that the custom bindings might get lost on game restart (see here).

The game randomly crashes after races (when clicking the Continue button) and progress is lost

Change the language at "programs that doesn't support UNICODE" to English (US) in Windows[14]
  1. Open the operating system’s Region Settings. You can do it, for example, by typing region settings into the task bar search box.
  2. In the Region Settings window, click Language and then click Administrative language settings.
  3. In the Region dialog, on the Administrative tab, click Change system locale.
  4. In the resulting dialog, select the English (US) language from the Current system locale list.

Background of magazine covers is black

Use ThirteenAG's fix[15]
  1. Install NFS Underground Widescreen Fix.
  2. Make sure that the option BlackMagazineFix in scripts\NFSUnderground.WidescreenFix.ini is set to 1.
This solution works only with US version of the game.
Disable Motion Blur and Light Trails[15]

The game doesn't launch or "the application was unable to start correctly" error

Enable Fullscreen Optimizations
  1. Go to the installation folder
  2. Right click speed.exe and select properties
  3. Click on the Compatibility Tab and be sure to untick "disable fullscreen optimizations"
  4. Click on apply

Using Widescreen Fix reveals debug objects in menus

Use ThirteenAG's fix[16]
  1. Install NFS Underground Widescreen Fix.
  2. Set HideDebugObjects in NFSUnderground.WidescreenFix.ini to 1. You can also set it to 2 to add borders to hide those objects.

Other information


Technical specs Supported Notes
Direct3D 9
Executable 32-bit 64-bit Notes


No middleware information; you can edit this page to add it.

Modifications NFSU Netplay Launcher & Lap Recorder

A multifunctional tool that combines a range of features, including WidescreenFix with a GUI
ServerChanger with online server list, game server infos, users online custom audio/text notifications, and EATrax editor
Lap Recorder for Free Run mode with overlay and detailed statistics, and an upload/import function for the online database on which provides rankings
Game files manager with profile creation, a 100% savegame import function, and TJs unique parts editor
Ghost mode/collisions switcher
Firewall rules info and setup
Also provides hotkeys for taking screenshots

NFSU Beta Edition

Converts the game into its E3 2003/PS2 demo state, which has a dramatically different look and feel from the released game.

Need for Speed Underground Definitive Edition

Adds 4K world textures, 8K skyboxes, rain puddles, improves the lighting, etc.

Need for speed Underground - Redux 2017 (Graphics mod) AMTxDRxRL

It adds new lighting so that it better reflects the atmosphere of street racing at night.

Archie Goldmill's Cheat Engine table

Unlocks hidden vinyls and rim sizes

Extended Customization

Extends customization feature of the game.
Fixes engine load texture.

HD Reflections

Adds higher quality reflection.

Extra Options+

Adds many useful features.


Fixes random chance of crashing when the game tries to save.

HD Car Logos and Emblems

Replaces car logos and emblems with the higher resolution counterparts.

Visual Reputation Remover

Makes it possible to progress through the game without decorating the car.

Various NFS ASIs

Lets you use debug features, such as the debug camera (AKA freecam)

Free Roam Mod

Lets you freely explore Olympic City
Extremely rare traffic
No option to explore the Drag mode tracks, use the old version of the mod for that (notice: you won't be able to explore the full city with the old version)

Winter Olympic City

Gives the games a winter overhaul
Does not require Texmod
Make sure to disable road reflections
Archived download link

Nightbreath Mod by BojanV03 (SweetFX + texture & FX mod)

Improves the visuals and exaggerates the night time feeling

Need for Speed Underground - Midnight Light

Alternative graphics

System requirements

Minimum Recommended
Operating system (OS) 98, ME, 2000, XP
Processor (CPU) Intel Pentium III 700 MHz
System memory (RAM) 128 MB (98, ME)
256 MB (2000, XP, online play)
Hard disk drive (HDD) 2 GB
Video card (GPU) ATI Radeon 7500
Nvidia GeForce2
Matrox Parhelia
32 MB of VRAM
DirectX 9 compatible
Sound (audio device) DirectX compatible
Other 8X CD-ROM, Network card for broadband or connectivity


  1. SafeDisc retail DRM does not work on Windows 10[1] or Windows 11 and is disabled by default on Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 when the KB3086255 update is installed.[2]
  2. Applications writing to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE will be redirected to other locations based on various criterias, see the glossary page for more details.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 When running this game without elevated privileges (Run as administrator option), write operations against a location below %PROGRAMFILES%, %PROGRAMDATA%, or %WINDIR% might be redirected to %LOCALAPPDATA%\VirtualStore on Windows Vista and later (more details).


  1. Not Loading in Windows 10; this will break thousands of - Microsoft Community - last accessed on 2017-01-16
  2. Microsoft - MS15-097: Description of the security update for the graphics component in Windows: September 8, 2015 - last accessed on 2018-02-16
  3. UG1 & UG2 Implemented windowed mode pull request by Xan1242 (GitHub) - last accessed on October 2022
  4. UG1 implement FPS limit adjustments pull request by Xan1242 (GitHub) - last accessed on October 2022
  5. Online Services Shutdown - last accessed on 2023-05-22
  6. nfsuserver on GitHub - last accessed on 2023-05-22
  7. Reference
  8. Verified by User:Radmaxx on 2022-02-20
  9. Verified by User:KyoriAsh on 2022-03-26
    Checked with the original and the modified path, game able to run in installed language as in registry.
  10. Verified by User:KyoriAsh on 2022-03-26
    Tested with the missing cutscene files and the game is able to run normally.
  11. Verified by User:Mrtnptrs on 2022-12-04
    When having either Underground or Most Wanted installed and trying to run the setup.exe of the other, will result in the setup showing the option to Play the already installed game instead of showing Install to install the second game. Renaming the executable speed.exe of the already installed game to something else and running the setup of the other game indeed fixed the problem and allowed both games to be installed.
  12. Need for Speed - Analog sticks deadzone · Issue #165 · ThirteenAG/WidescreenFixesPack - last accessed on 2017-04-05
  13. Similar bug in UG2 - last accessed on May 2023
  14. NFS Underground on Windows 10? - last accessed on [unknown]
  15. 15.0 15.1 [NFSU] Black Magazine Cover Fix by thelink2012 · Pull Request #863 · ThirteenAG/WidescreenFixesPack - last accessed on 2020-08-29
  16. [NFSU] Widescreen Patch displaying debug text in menu · Issue #643 · ThirteenAG/WidescreenFixesPack - last accessed on 2022-10-23
  17. Need For Speed Underground FAQ - last accessed on 2022-03-26