The two most highly anticipated video games this holiday season -- Take-Two Interactive's (NASDAQ:TTWO) Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Halo 2 (see Hello Halo 2 and H2 Ohhhh) -- are already out. But street racing and car customization are still all the rage, and once again Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS) owns the scene.

Yesterday, Electronic Arts delivered Need for Speed Underground 2, the sequel to last year's best-selling game. NFS2 reaches the The Fast and the Furious-ignited boost in the popularity of import car culture: According to the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), the compact performance market for aftermarket car parts in the U.S. has grown from $295 million in 1997 to $3.2 billion in 2003 -- a roughly 50% annual clip. And with Take-Two's highly promoted Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition pushed back until January, and THQ's (NASDAQ:THQI) Juiced delayed until next summer (see THQ Gets Juiced), Electronic Arts has the holiday season all to itself.

I picked up my copy yesterday at Electronics Boutique (NASDAQ:ELBO), since it gets all of the games first -- that is, before Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) and Target. I also put in several hours of quality research.

The game is bigger and better. Like Namco'sStreet Racing Syndicate, NFS2 has adopted Midnight Club's open-city model. This year, you cruise through a huge environment between races and parts shops. You can also keep more than one car in your garage, something that couldn't be done in the first Underground. And for the stylists, there are more visual upgrades than ever, with the addition of Lamborghini-style doors, spinners, hydraulics, personalized gauges, and even audio systems (my personal gripe being that you have to add these things to gain style points -- I don't know of too many Mazda RX-8 or Nissan 350Z owners who would ruin their cars with spinners and hydraulics).

But Need for Speed has also made great strides toward realism for the enthusiast.

Unlike previous versions -- which used bar graphs to rate things such as top speed, acceleration, and handling -- this year's version makes use of the dynamometer to measure actual horsepower and torque. In addition, you can tweak the suspension settings and measure lateral grip on a test course. And in what has to be a video-game first, you can adjust the electronic control unit settings for different driving situations as you might do with a GReddy e-Manage, as well as the turbo boost settings.

Electronic Arts also broadens the racing. Drifting -- the sport that singularly makes Need for Speed stand apart from every other racing game -- is back. Moreover, the company has added road racing and the new StreetX, a sort of extreme version of auto crossing.

The gameplay is deep. And really, the only area where Need for Speed falls behind competitor Street Racing Syndicate is that the latter goes as far as to use real body kits from high-end companies such as C-West and VeilSide.

Next month, Sony's (NYSE:SNE) super-simulation Gran Turismo 4 will be an automatic purchase for any auto enthusiast. But for anybody into the import scene, Electronic Arts' Need for Speed Underground 2 is the arcade-style street racer to beat until next holiday season.

Electronic Arts is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Learn more by subscribing today with a six-month money-back guarantee.

Fool contributor Jeff Hwang owns shares of Electronic Arts.