Review: Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is an attempted return to the glory days for the franchise. Did it manage to do that?
- Worth The Time?Yes, to any casual racer or racing enthusiast.
- Things LovedPlaying as both a racer and a cop, the amazing visuals, the exhilarating feel of high speed racing and crashing, the handling of the cars, the frequent unlocking of new vehicles, the soundtrack and being able to make your own playlist, the fantastic online mode, the facebook-like setup for friends list interaction.
- Things HatedThe repetitiveness of the game outside of the online mode, the lack of split-screen play.
- RecommendationWhether you're a casual racer or a racing enthusiast, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is a game to give your money and time to.
- Name: Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit
- Genre: Racing
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: Online (2-8 players)
- Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox360, Wii, iPhone
- Developer: Criterion Games, Exient (Wii)
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Price: R453-499 (PS3, 360), R317-350 (PC)
- Reviewed On: PS3
If there is one thing to admire about the Need for Speed franchise, it’s that, when looking back at the vast library of games under this name, one can see a great deal of variety. That is, the franchise is always trying something new. While it may not always be successful in its adaptions, the bottom line is that it’s adventurous, and does more than simply out the same game each year. Here we have Hot Pursuit, which takes the series back to its roots and bases itself on previous Hot Pursuit games in the franchise. That’s right, Hot Pursuit of 2010 is all about exotic sports cars and high speed races and police chases to satisfy the adrenaline junkie, and if you lay it down on the table that’s about all you really need as a foundation for an exciting racer. However, there’s naturally more to any game than simply a concept or premise, so let’s take a look at the game here and find out whether or not Hot Pursuit is the racer’s choice for this year.
The immediate thing to love about Hot Pursuit, aside from the game choosing 30 Seconds to Mars’ song Edge of the Earth as its title soundtrack, is that you’re able to play as both a police officer and a racer. Both are played simultaneously during the single player career mode, but you’re able to choose the order of races and events that you’d like to participate in. Basically, in the career mode, you’re given a bunch of missions for both racers and police officers, and you’ll do them as you wish. However, progression is exclusive to each side, which means doing police events will only unlock cars and rank you up for the police, and vice versa for the racers. What’s instantly great is that unlocking cars is easy and happens very frequently, and you don’t have to start at the bottom with slow cars, but instead begin the game with fast sport cars equipped with nitros. It’s a big plus and allows the player to get into the action from the word go, but admittedly, despite the large amount of vehicles in the game and speed at which you unlock them, there are many cars available for both racers and the police that are just slightly different variations of each other, but on the contrary there are also a few exclusive cars to each side, and all the vehicles look different for each side anyway.
Your progression as a racer is governed by Bounty and a Wanted Level, where driving incredibly fast, bashing policemen off the road, winning races and medals and avoiding getting busted and so on will increase your bounty and, as a result, unlock new cars and upgrade your equipment. Getting enough bounty will rank up your Wanted Level, of which there are 20 levels in total, and this is basically your overall rank and how badly the police want you off the road. For the police, it’s basically the same thing, except there are slight differences such as that you rank up your officer rating and not your wanted level. Also, the objectives of missions naturally change depending on whether you’re a racer or a police officer. For example, in the epic Hot Pursuit mode, the cops will be trying to stop the racers before they reach the finish line while the racers will go out of their way to reach it and best the police. Or the police will get a mode where they will have to chase down and put a stop to a dangerous racer, while the racers will get a standard high speed race.
A really cool feature in the career mode is the Facebook-like integration of your friendslist. As long as you’re connected online to the “Autolog” system, players will get a Wall that they can comment on, post their results for races and automatically accept challenges. Also, photos and snapshots can be uploaded by using the photo mode in the game or by taking screenshots at any time in-game by clicking down the right analogue stick. Furthermore, you’ll get to see how your friends have done in events they’ve completed and will be able to challenge them to beat their scores and take first place amongst your friends. The Autolog feature will even recommend to you a milestone to achieve to best your friends during the load screen before an event. For example, it will tell you the time your friend took to finish an event, so you can try to beat it and, if you manage to do so, the game will prompt you after the event whether or not you wish to publish your result to your wall. Overall, the Autolog feature is no small gimmick, but rather it’s a great way to keep in touch with friends and challenge them and yourself while playing through the single player, and not just be isolated doing your own thing.
If you’re one to play through the entire career mode, which is advisable as you’ll want to unlock all the cars and upgrades, there is easily over ten hours to be spent completing it, and quite a bit longer than that if you plan to get the best results and all of the achievements. Now, all of this is well and good, but of course it’s the gameplay that matters most, and it’s here that Hot Pursuit really shines, even more so that it’s neatly wrapped up in a good game already, and that’s without factoring in the online mode. In all honesty, there’s not much to learn about Hot Pursuit regarding its gameplay, and this is no bad thing. Basically, you’ll be racing at extremely high speeds, beating the opposition, whether it be other racers or police offers, at any cost. If not that, you’ll be fighting against a time limit or basically just driving really fast with a condition attached to it. There’s not much more you need really, because there are few dreams better than driving speedy and sexy Lamborghinis at top speed, with nitros included, and having the freedom to total your opponents’ cars while you’re at it.
On the notion of destroying your opponents, there are four weapon slots available, controlled via the D-pad, for both racers and police officers that can be used during certain events to gain the advantage over the opposition. All weapons have a limited number of uses and have short cooldown times after use. There are EMP blasts, which require you to keep your target in sights ahead of you to get a lock-on. Once acquired, an electric blast will cause the car to become dysfunctional and slow down for a little bit. There are Spike Traps, which deploy a spiked strip from the rear of your car to cripple anyone who rides over it and send them off course. In order to ensure a hit and time it correctly, as well as help you in general, the player is aided by a rear-view mirror at the top of the HUD, which highlights police cars and racers behind you. The last two abilities for both racer and cop, however, are different. Racers get a Jammer, which basically disables your opponents’ weapons, and also either removes a lock-on, if a player is targeting you with an EMP, or renders a Spike Trap useless, and cops get the infamous Road Block. The last ability for Racers is Turbo, which takes a second or two before your car bursts forward with green fire erupting from the exhausts, giving you a huge burst of speed for a short time, and for police officers its Helicopter Support, which sends a chopper forward to attack players.
The gameplay is rock solid, incredibly smooth and the cars handle like a dream. Sure they can tend to be overly eager to drift outrageously at sharp turns, but it feels and looks cool and adds to the tension and rush. Hot Pursuit really is like a racing fantasy, where you’ll get to use a wide range of top class speed demons and fancy sports cars to reach the finish line, and will have complete freedom to drive as fast as you possibly can, making this a truly exhilarating game, especially more so when you bring in the intense chase sequences and chaotic gameplay. This game is seriously at its best in the hot pursuit mode, where both the police and racers will join the fray, and it’s hellishly exciting. Even the race tracks themselves are really well-designed and actually require learning or pure instinct and adaption, with perhaps some luck too for those who haven’t learned them, to get the best results. This is mainly evident with the shortcuts scattered around tracks, as some are not actually shortcuts in the typical sense, in that they don’t really get you somewhere faster, but rather act as alternate routes, which can get you out of dangerous situations or give you room to breathe.
The only thing that is really wrong with Hot Pursuit’s gameplay is that it can be very repetitive and only few twists in otherwise similar modes don’t really mix things up all that much. Still, the fact that new cars are constantly unlocked and the game is so much fun does make up for this somewhat. Another thing players might be disappointed about is the lack of a cockpit view, and the alternate camera views are pretty odd, making the default the best to drive with. In the end though, Hot Pursuit is a pretty simple game that’s easily played and easily understood, and there isn’t much it lacks or needs more of to make it a better game. It just plays so well, feels so great and looks so awesome that most of its flaws will be left forgotten during your play time with it, and it’s perhaps only the repetitiveness that could possibly turn players away from it. Still, for what it’s worth, personally I haven’t enjoyed a racing game this much, especially a Need for Speed title for that matter, since the famous Most Wanted, and I’m still playing Hot Pursuit even now.
The multiplayer component is simple enough, and it’s awesome fun, definitely ensuring that a lot of time can be spend playing Hot Pursuit outside of the single player mode. Unfortunately, many will notice the absence of split-screen or any kind of local play for that matter, which is very disheartening. Either way, once hopping online you’ll get access to a variety of options to get into games with your friends, such as by joining a game that has one of your friends in, creating your own game or by making a group. If friends aren’t around, or if you don’t have any, you can always go international, and it’s a blast since the lag is minimal, from our experience with it anyway. There are three game modes, namely Hot Pursuit, Interceptor and Race. The first is where the racers will speed to get to the finish line and take first place while the cops will try and wipe them out before they get there to shut down the race.As for the latter two, Interceptor is basically a one-on-one pursuit match between a racer and a cop and Race is, well, self-explanatory.
Hot Pursuit looks amazing in motion, and the cars are fantastic, with special attention given to detail, colour and reflections. No vehicle looks as though it got the short end of the stick, and the game looks all-round great, which includes the environments and racing tracks. Cars can also be damaged or entirely destroyed, although in this case the player is respawned a few seconds later, and the beaten up vehicles look great, and it’s definitely a cool sight to see when a car goes flipping out of control in a small cinematic motion capture after a crash, with glass flying everywhere and metal crunching as it tumbles over and over. Hot Pursuit doesn’t disappoint either when it comes to its audio, as the cars sound fantastic too, and the burst of flames that rise from nitros and Turbo and the rush of wind as your car accelerates is wonderfully done. The music chosen for the game is also mostly good, and of course the option to make your own playlist is a plus. Just like with the entire game, there is not much to complain about here, and it’s overall very impressive.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit doesn’t go above and beyond the limits of racing games or bring anything entirely new to the genre. However, it’s an all-round fantastic and addictive racer that is definitely one of the best of this year, and it’s a purchase you will not regret making. Hot Pursuit is exhilarating, fast, crazy and just awesome.