Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Review
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Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit speeds past the arcade-racing competition with its deeply connected Autolog system, breathtaking visuals, and the thrill that comes with driving exotic cars at 200 mph while chasing, or escaping, your fellow racers.
- Beautiful graphics, even at full speed
- Playing as both cops and racers creates diverse gameplay
- The Autolog system offers enormous connectivity
- The AI is a bit predictable
- The game modes may become a bit repetitive
Screeching around a turn in a Porsche Boxter Spyder, we swept past our closest opponent and overtook first place. The competition was fierce from the other drivers, but with a tap of nitrous we were firmly in the lead. We stayed in the wrong lane, deftly avoiding the sparsely-placed oncoming traffic to build up more nitrous. Ahead of us, the Seacrest County Police Department deployed a roadblock, and before we knew it, a decked-out Lamborghini cruiser was smashing us from side to side, trying in vain to run us off the road. We crouched ahead ever so slightly, deployed a spike strip to eliminate the cruiser, and narrowly found the sweet spot of the barricade to ultimately win the race, netting us thousands of bounty points and another new car.
It took plenty of practice to get that course down properly, but it's just a typical race you’ll encounter in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. This open-world arcade racer is up against some stiff competition this year, but it’s clearly the new front-runner. You likely know developer Criterion Games for its highly successful Burnout series. Though Hot Pursuit shares some similarities with Burnout Paradise, it distinctive enough to bring arcade racing to a new level, not just in gameplay, but in the way it connects you with other players online.
Racing fans typically judge a game on a few basic elements. First, the game must have good controls appropriate to the style of game (arcade vs. simulator). Second, the game should provide an extensive garage of authentic cars. And, finally, the game must look, sound, and play great. On those very basic levels, Hot Pursuit takes the top prize this year in the arcade racing genre.
Hot Pursuit allows you to play as either a racer or a cop in fictional Seacrest County, a remarkably diverse locale filled with relatively empty roads—except for all the adrenaline-junkies in blazing fast autos. The setting is diverse and gorgeous; even when speeding 200 mph down a wooded country road, you can pick up little details everywhere. We swear that at times we could smell the burning of asphalt as we sped past the competition. Weather, location, and time of day all play a significant role in the game’s presentation, too. One race will have you climbing steep hills in snowy mountains, while another will bring you through what appears to be redwood forests with tight turns. Plus, there are plenty of side routes, which allow you to escape the police or get a leg-up on when pursuing racers. It’s this diversity that helps push Hot Pursuit into a new league of arcade racers.
While some racing games require you to ingrain every small turn in your muscle memory, Hot Pursuit requires you to think on your feet; you typically need to pay as much attention to other racers (or the police) as you do the actual racetrack. You’ll maneuver your assortment of exotic muscle and sport cars with swift and agile controls. This is not Gran Turismo 5, it is an arcade-style racer and plays as such. At first the controls felt a bit heavy, but after some time with the game, we found all you needed was a tap of the brake to perform a nice long drift. The controls are extremely precise, just as you’d imagine from the Burnout crew, and if there are any complaints about handling, it’s probably the fault of our insatiable need for speed; sometimes we drove too fast and didn’t have enough time to react to even very slight turns, leading us straight into a nice crash sequence.
The over-the-top crashes are breathtaking. It’s hard to get too miffed about wrecking when you get such awesome looking segments. This is especially true for when you play as a cop and have to eliminate racers, which make for some of our favorite segments in the ... (continued on next page)