Review: Need for Speed – Hot Pursuit

At the end of November, racing game fans faced a difficult choice. Both the latest instalments of the NFS and Gran Turismo games were released within a few days of eachother. Normally this would be a no brainer, NFS games have been a bit crap in recent years right? Yes, but not so with this one. Ignoring Hot Pursuit for a moment, I was tempted by GT5, I really was but after sinking hundreds of hours in to Forza 3, I honestly didn’t fancy another deep experience like that. I wanted something that was pure driving escapism.

It's not very realistic and it's all the better for it.

Graphics

HP looks an absolute treat. It might not run at a silky smooth 60fps but when you’re barrelling along at 250mph, you’re far more concerned with on coming traffic than absolute graphical fidelity. Wet tarmac is particularly well realised and when it’s lit up by lightning flashes, it evokes real atmosphere. The car models look gorgeous, there aren’t 100s of cars in this, a select 60 or so (plus police versions) but they’ve chosen well.

Yeah, it's quite pretty in paces.

Handling

This is an arcade racer through and through, so the handling isn’t what you’d call ‘authentic’. The guys behind the game, Criterion made the excellent Burnout games, so if you’ve ever played one of them, you know what to expect. 200mph+ straights in to hairpins can be negotiated with a small lift and a touch of handbrake, with the speed never dropping below 120mph. It’s silly, of course it is, but it’s also challenging and satisfying, there’s enough subtlety in the controls for you to be able to alter the angle and direction of you drift with the throttle, key to maintaining the highest speed possible.

Gameplay

The crux of Burnout, sorry, Hot Pursuit is an underlying risk/reward system. Driving towards oncoming traffic and having near misses with other happless motorists builds up a nitrous system, use this to boost engine performance when required. However, the fact you have to drive more dangerously to get this boost can make for some very tense moments when you want to eke it out for as long as possible but you know that there’s going to be a camper van in your path at some point, that you’re going to have to avoid.

The game is split in two, Cops and Racers (you get to be both). Both have events such as time trials, but the main events are always the Hot Pursuit races. These are 4 Cops v 4 Racers, the cops have to wreck all the racers to win, the racers have to escape to win. This is achieved by ramming each other off the road or using the power ups that are available. These weapons range from spike strips and turbo boosts to calling in road blocks and helicopters. You only get so many of these per race, which makes using them a tactical decision, do you keep a turbo boost in reserve for near the end of the race or use it early to grab a lead at the start? It’s these decisions that makes the gameplay so compelling

Yes, there's a Police Veyron

Sound

The engine sounds are authentic and throaty. Each race is preceded by a short clip, as the race loads of the cars blasting through the countryside, being hounded by the cops, it sounds frankly awesome. The music is varied and comes from licensed bands and DJs, but I turned it off quite quickly, I’d rather pure engine sounds, but that’s a personal preference, not a comment on the quality of the tracks.

Longevity

Even with a brilliant Online multiplayer and ‘Autolog’ results posting system, this isn’t going to last like a Forza or Gran Turismo. It’s fantastic fun but, as with all arcade racers is pretty shallow. That said, you can pick this up, only 3 weeks after release for £24 online, so you can’t really argue with that.

I whole hartedly recommend it.

 

 

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