Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

8.0 Overall Score

Written by on January 11, 2011 in

Ok, you have heard all of the hype.  You read my previous article on my white-knuckled rampage through the highways and byways that make up the fictitious land of Hot Pursuit.  But you are still unsure that you want to get yourself a ticket to Seacrest County to chase or be chased in Need for Speed’s Latest cops vs. racers adventure?  I may not be able to make this decision for you but I can attempt give you all the ammunition you need to make up your own mind.  As I stated in the previous article, developer Criterion is no stranger to the larger than life insanity of arcade racing madness.  They created wild and whacky thrill ride known as Burnout: Paradise in 2008.  They love to give the player plenty of open road and the ability to use it in almost any way they want.  This could produce a game that allows so much freedom that the player has no idea where to begin or it could mean the answer to every car lover’s dream.  I will tell you up front that this is not an open world game.  There is a finite amount of road to drive along and specific goals in mind for most modes.  But the game does attempt  to give the player enough options to cater to most gaming styles.  I will give you the elements I have found in the game that may help your gaming dilemma.

First of all, I have found that this game really does have something for everyone.  Are you a hardcore, nuts and bolts racing machine?  You will be rewarded with driving some of the world’s most exotic racing monsters.  You will not get to customize your ride beyond very basic color choices and you can’t buy equipment to totally pimp your ride but you can savor the satisfaction of slipping behind the wheel of cars like the Porsche 911, Maserati Quattroporte, or the Lamborghini Reventón police supercar and chasing down racers in Dodge Vipers, Chevy Camaros, or even Aston Martins.  The cop cars in Seacrest County are supercharged to keep pace with their number one problem… racers.  This means whether you play as a cop or a racer you will get the chance to drive some pretty amazing examples of automotive excellence.  The police cars tend towards the more tank-like form and function while the racers are equipped for flash and speed.  The goal of the game is fairly straight forward.  The cops must chase the racers and bump, crash, and wreck the racer’s car until they are ‘busted’.  I have to admit that this made me a huge fan of being a cop.  There was nothing quite as satisfying as obliterating the racer and propelling him into the air into a crash-tastic spiral of death.  Ok so maybe that is not very ‘law and Order’ of me but what can I say.

There is  a crazy amount of strategy to his game.  My initial plan of just driving as fast as I can quickly fell away when I realized that the cop has a very limited amount of nitrous boost they can use so it is best to save it until you are right behind the racer then pour on the nitrous and give his spine a jolt that puts his car out of commission.  You also have to watch to make sure you don’t pass the racer unless you have reached the level in the game where there are weapons at your disposal like the almighty spike strip that can disable the bad guys.  Eventually the cops get several weapons to aid them in stopping the racers.  There are the spike strip, the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) to disable the racer’s electronics, the road block, and a helicopter to drop a spike strip for you.  This does not mean the racers are without their own tricks.  They have managed to grab the EMP and spike strips by nefarious means.  They also have a jammer to stop the cops EMP, and extensive amounts of nitrous to add speed.  You have to use all of these tools strategically.  They don’t have unlimited amounts for any tool, the nitrous builds as you drive until you fill it to capacity and once you are out you must wait for it to rebuild.  The rest can be used only so many times throughout each race so you need to wait for the right opportunity to arise before using them.  Once used, each tool requires a certain amount of time to rebuild.  In multiplayer mode the entire team shares that same stash of tools so you need to allow the team mate that has the best opportunity to take out your enemies by using the right tool at the right time.  Points for both sides are earned in the form of bounty and nitrous.  The cops earn a low amount of nitrous for strategic speed boosts by for following the law by such things as busting the bad guys, driving on the right side of the road, avoiding crashes, and successful drifting around corners.  The racers earn bounty and a more generous supply of nitrous for thwarting the law by doing things such as evading capture, bold near misses, successful drifts around corners, generally causing mayhem.  When you win enough bounty  as either a racer or a cop you raise through the ranks of your chosen profession.  There are a total of 20 ranks for both sides of the law.

Beyond the car’s tricks and toys there is a certain amount of strategy necessary to use the landscape to its fullest advantage.  There are shortcuts galore to help the racer make his escape or to help the cop catch up to the racer.  Hidey holes in the form of logging camps, truck stops, and national parks allow the racers a chance to elude the law.  For the racers, coming in first is an obvious goal but you must also avoid the cops, their tricks, and even your fellow racers.  All will be gunning for you as you move up in the race.  Do you race on?  Hide out for a bit?  Or do you take out the competition first?  The strategy reaches its peak in the mulitplayer mode called Interceptor.  Here there is direct competition between a cop and a racer.  The game of cat and mouse game has the cops attempting to find and ‘bust’ (aka maim into submission or otherwise stop) the racer.  The racer must keep away.  If the racer is able to stay far enough away from the cop for long enough, they ‘escape’.   This is where you see the true complexity of the game.  There are endless ways to evade the law and just as many ways to extend the long arm of the law.  Creativity and sneakiness are often rewarded with the win.  As the cop you can’t blindly chase after the dust.  You might just find yourself roll right over a well-planned spike strip.  The racer can’t hide at the local truck stop garage forever.  The racer may not want to run or hide.  The best strategy may just be to take out the cop car altogether with a spike strip of their own.  Then they can race away to the safety of the open road.  Another bonus for the hardcore gamer comes in the form of Autolog and the multiplayer game.

These two features were described in my previous article but I will remind you of a few things.  Autolog is the resource that helps ultra-competitive racers tease, taunt and challenge your friends to beat your time.  Here you can see what your friends have done, with what car, and then use that information to try to beat their time.  You can also post on the wall a challenge to your friends.  The multiplayer mode allows you to use all of the lessons learned in the single player ‘Career’ mode to take on your friends one-on-one.  In multiplayer you can have a race with you and 7 friends, or a 4 vs. 4 cops and robbers challenge, or any other combination of eight cops and/or robbers.  Are you a novice race gamer and feel intimidated by all of the strategy and competition?  There is something here for you as well.

Are you looking to drive amazingly supercharged cars with no fear of destruction?  Then the ‘Free Drive’ is for you.  You can go to any of the career roadways and explore the pristine landscape at extremely high speeds.  This is your opportunity to find all of the shortcuts and hidey holes.  You can smash and crash to your heart’s content without adding any pesky scars to your gorgeous car.  Tired of finishing a race only to be reminded that all of your friends have a better time than you?  I definitely feel your pain here.  I love my Xbox buddies but wish I did not have to be constantly reminded that I am low man on the racing totem pole.  To avoid this I merely chose not to connect to the Autolog.  You won’t have access to the other online benefits but that gave me a blissful break from those ‘helpful’ reminders.  There are a couple of reasons the more casual player may want to stay connected to Autolog, however.  The first reason is the amount of helpful information that the log offers.  You can, for example, see which cars you friends used to get their best times for each track.  This can help you decide which car you want at the beginning of each challenge.  The second reason to stay online is multiplayer mode.  Just as the multiplayer mode provides a great challenge to the hardcore gamer it can also provide a hilarious good time for the casual gamer.  As stated above, you can have any combination of cops and/or racers in the multiplayer game.  The different combinations may be used to even the odds between players of different abilities.  For example, you have a friend that is an insanely good racer.  Challenge him to outwit and outrace seven cops.  This will give the hardcore gamer the challenge they need while giving the players of lesser ability a better chance to enjoy the game.

Overall I have to say I truly enjoy playing this game.  Is it a realistic racer?  No it is an arcade style racer but it does supply the gamer with a great degree of flexibility to create as much of a challenge as they desire without forgetting the fun.   There are plenty of toys at your disposal from the amazing cars to the fun weapons to aid you in getting the upper hand.  Something I found amusing at times and frustrating at others was the other traffic on the road.  I understand that the other cars and semi’s were there to provide a challenge to the cops and racers but I found it strange that they were absolutely unfazed by the high-speed chase going on around them.  Apparently folks in Seacrest County do not find it necessary to pull over to the side of the road when they hear emergency sirens.   It’s just another day in paradise I guess.

I hope that this has given you a better idea of what this game has to offer.  In the end the decision is yours.  I have personally truly enjoyed this game and I am definitely not a hardcore racer.  As far from it as possible, if I must be brutally honest.  But this game offers enough flexibility and fun to keep me interested.  The online multiplayer races are hilarious.  I love to see the ridiculous, over-the-top physics as we crash and smash our way to be number one.  The graphics are gorgeous and the weather provides the challenge of wet or the beautiful blue sky.  The road to glory is calling… are you listening?

A copy of Need for Speed:  Hot Pursuit was provided to The Married Gamers for review and evaluation.

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Author: Melisa Snyder View all posts by

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