'Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit' (PS3)
Published Nov 21 2010, 16:09 GMT | By Mark Langshaw Also available on
: Xbox 360, Wii, PCDeveloper
: Criterion GamesPublisher
: Electronic ArtsGenre:
The driving genre just wouldn't be the same without its annual Need For Speed
fix. The EA property may be have been milked to death in recent years, but given that it's the most successful racing series of all time, the studio aren't about to let it fall by the wayside. After the less-than-successful venture into MMO territory that was Need For Speed: World
, it's pleasing to see developer Criterion Games take the formula back to its roots with Hot Pursuit
. There's something incredibly gratifying about a high-speed car chase, and this adrenaline-fuelled offering has them down to a tee.
Taking place in the fictitious Seacrest County, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit
pits cops against boy-racers across a series of courses. Fans will no doubt be pleased to see the series' love affair with police chases reignited, though the game distances itself from its forebears in other areas. Several of its core components are reminiscent of previous Criterion release Burnout
. Everything from charging the nitro gauge to taking down opponents has been carried across from the rival property. Despite these dubious similarities, it's the old-school Need For Speed
elements at its core that really shine, and the material it borrows simply adds refinement to the formula.
The single-player career mode offers up a range of 'Cop' and 'Racer' missions, meaning that you'll play on either sides of the law, unlocking new features and vehicles for each faction as you progress. Both sides have their perks. Playing as a cop you get to hit your opponents with electromagnetic pulses, take out their tires with spike strips and call in roadblocks and helicopter support. Employing decoy cars and radar-jammers when playing as a racer isn't quite as satisfying, but is still fun nonetheless. Tracks may be linear for the most part, yet it isn't all driving from A to B. Mission objectives might require you to deliver a car undamaged or reach your destination within a time limit. However, Hot Pursuit
is at its best during the blistering, high-velocity chases.
Impressive computer AI adds to the challenge whatever side you're playing on. Both cops and racers use their offensive capabilities economically, making them worthy opponents. However, like their human counterparts, they will slip up on occasion and give you the upper hand. This level of unpredictability is what makes the experience interesting. When tailing an illegal driver as a law enforcer, you will never know whether your opponent is going to turn off along an alternate route or press on ahead. It's a refreshing alternative to the usually inept AI of other racing games, thought it's no substitute for competing with friends for bragging rights.
Outside of the core missions, the time-trials provide some replay value. There's an emphasis on precision driving here, particularly during cop missions, as a single collision could mean the difference between a Gold and Silver medal. In order to achieve the highest accolade on each course, it's essential to master drifting to shave precious seconds off your best time, and slipstreaming to build up your nitro gauge. Colliding with an incoming vehicle triggers a slow-motion replay, compromising the high-octane nature of the experience and occasionally throwing you off. However, this just makes you want to avoid it all the more. A groundbreaking online component known as the Autolog keeps track of your friends' best scores on each track and serves as an in-game social network, providing further replay value and connectivity options.
Online features on the whole account for a significant part of Hot Pursuit
. The lack of any kind of local multiplayer is disappointing - playing full-screen against a pack of human opponents over a network is arguably the definitive way to play, but supporting split-screen action as well would not have harmed the game. What we do get is three different online modes, and they don't let the side down. Online races support up to eight players, with no weapons or cops in sight. There's a place for this mode, since the option to test your driving skills alone is a welcome one. However, it pales in comparison to 'Hot Pursuit' mode, which pits four against four with the benefit of all weapons. With so many possible outcomes, these events rarely play out the same way twice. Interceptor mode is largely the same, but on a smaller scale. Pitting one cop against one racer, these matches are won and lost on shrewd turns and perseverant tailing.
Overall, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit
is a return to form for the franchise and one of the best driving games of the year. This high-octane joyride looks as good as it handles and is loaded with features, none of which are filler material. Whichever side of the law you play on, you'll be treated to some of the best in-game car chases we've seen for some time, and reap the rewards of excellent online support. This one will face stiff competition from Gran Turismo 5
this Christmas, but it leaves its other competitors behind in the dust.> What do you think of the game? Share your views