Need For Speed: Hot PursuitESRB:
Platform: Xbox 360
1.3 MB to save game
Force Feedback Wheel
Xbox LIVE Vision
Online Multiplayer: 2-8
I crave the Need for Speed. Ever since I played Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 on the Gamecube, oh so many years ago, I have wanted to have that crazy, blasting down the road, bumper car like smashing into cops, thrill-ride at breakneck speeds feeling. The benchmark, for me, was the adrenaline fueled cops chase racers NFS: Most Wanted. It had everything: a good story, exotic cars I could only dream about climbing behind the wheel of, and enough lightning fast smashing collisions to make every bull who ever ventured into a china shop green with envy. In short, I loved it! After a string of mediocre outings since Most Wanted’s release in November of 2005, such as Carbon, Pro Street, Undercover, and most recently Shift, I had mixed feelings about the release of Criterion Games developed Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. Could they revive the Need for Speed franchise that many hardcore racers and fans feel has been on life support for the better part of five-years?
I had a small feeling of hope when I placed the game disc into my Xbox 360, ensured that every finger was secured in my leather driving gloves, cinched my five point harness and pressed the start button for Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. There is no doubt, from the first throbbing of the thoroughbred engine under the hood, that Criterion Games’ Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit will hurl you down the road at blinding speeds, and you can’t help but come back for more. Criterion shows you where the rubber meets the pavement; the only question is how much of it will be left in your wake as you launch down that road?
The visuals in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit are very good. From the vistas of the open desert spaces, the craggy snow-capped peaks of the mountain’s two lane thoroughfares, to the more populated and more heavily trafficked urban streets and freeways or the meandering coastal highways; all add to the realism of the racing in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. That being said, I can’t help but get a “been there, done that” feeling. The game was developed with the assistance of DICE and it shows. What would you get if you mashed the graphic properties of DICE’s Battlefield: Bad Company 2 with Criterion’s Burnout Paradise? You would get the graphic presentation in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. I am not suggesting that the marriage doesn’t work, quite the opposite, it works very well. The draw distances don’t falter as you scream down the road as experienced in other racers. There is no distraction as the graphics are delivered in a crisp and detailed manner that is demanded by the speed of the game. The DICE/Criterion Games marriage works as the images fly past your eyes, but it does feel somewhat familiar.
The roar of engines, the squeal of spinning tires, the blaring of police sirens, the cacophony of destruction as metal is twisted and glass explodes in spectacular crashes; all these manage to subject you to a frenetic assault of sound. I am lucky to have played my Xbox 360 copy of Hot Pursuit with the sound pounding through a 7.1 home-theatre system and I consider myself fortunate because the racers and cops reverberated around me. The little bit of the soundtrack I listened to seemed appropriate, but in fairness to the soundtrack, I tend to turn it down, as I have in other racers like Forza 3, so I can hear the fullness of the racing sounds. As with the visuals, the sounds of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit underline the realism and richness of the racing experience.
What children didn’t play cops and robbers while tearing around the neighbourhood on their tricycles? Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit allows the child in all of us to relive the heart pounding excitement as we zigged-and-zagged chasing our childhood rivals on the cul-de-sac.
Seacrest is the fictional coastal community setting where Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit takes place. A land where highway cops engage in turbo-charged battles with outlaw racers. As you explore the regions of Seacrest you will unlock a series events and challenges. You will also swap between cops chasing and racers evading, earning points and earning new vehicles as you go. You will, at one moment, be competing in a four-car Hot Pursuit, as you race for first place while being hounded by highway patrol units only to find yourself in the next event behind the wheel of a squad car on an Interceptor mission, desperately trying to pit maneuver racers into any barrier in an effort to stop them cold. The more you succeed the more areas of the map open up, each with a variety of new missions. Beat-the-clock time trials, duels against single enemies and jaw dropping preview sessions that allow you to pilot smoking hot exotic autos like my personal favorite, the McLaren F1. At every turn Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is rewarding on many levels of play.
As with Criterion Games’ Burnout Paradise, you are free to race events in any order you like. In addition to unlocking new events and game modes, you are rewarded with a gold, silver or bronze medal at the end of each event depending on success. A surprisingly fun addition to Hot Pursuit is the new social interaction system called "Autolog." The addition to Hot Pursuit of "Autolog Recommends" pits your times and successes against your friends on Xbox LIVE (or the Playstation Network). I found myself playing the same event over and over if only to beat my friends and turn in a better time. It could be considered “Instant Bragging Rights.”
Multiplayer racing allows you to play online with up to eight other racers where you can revel in the thrill of multiplayer battles, from eight-car races to four versus four challenges, with police pitted against racers. Online play is a lot of fun with a nice mix of co-op and lone-wolf competition. Cops must work together to shut down the racers, while the racers themselves are competing for first place. From spike strips to a trusty shot of nitrous, all those involved will use every toll at their disposal to secure the victory. Game modes consist of head-to-head challenges for two players in Interceptor mode to full on races to Hot Pursuits.
The handling of the cars fall somewhere between the arcade racer Burnout Paradise and the more sim-like Need For Speed: Shift. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is a technically demanding racer. Muscle cars like the classic 70’s Dodge Challenger handles like a truck, while the slippery exotics like the Pagani Zonda fly down the road like a dream. As with most arcade racers, Hot Pursuit suffers from the odd bout of Rubber-Band AI, but not to the point of being frustrating.
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