34 comments

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Review

by on November 28, 2010
 

Game: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

Developer: Criterion Games

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Available on: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Wii and iPhone (Xbox 360 version reviewed)

From the recent release of Shift to the slightly older Underground, the Need for Speed series has gone down many routes since its inception back in 1994. Thanks to the name, the series has always been quite successful in terms of sales, but not every direction taken has yielded critical success.

It’s quite fitting then that the latest addition to the series is a title that aims to take Need for Speed back to its 3DO roots. The racers, cops and chases are all back. With Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, EA have drafted in Criterion Games (the team behind the Burnout series) to bring some genuine thrills and arcade style fun back to the series. Have they managed to achieve their goal? Read on to find out.

GRAPHICS: Every single visual aspect of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit looks great; it’s actually quite hard to pick out a single glaring flaw. The fictional location of Seacrest County consists of some gorgeous looking environments and, whether they are moving or stationary, the vehicles themselves are just stunning to look at. Whether you’re charging down a slope as the sunlight bounces off the body of your shiny Lamborghini or illuminating a tunnel with you flashing lights as a cop in a mean looking Corvette, you will know you’re playing a great looking game.

The visual style is actually quite similar to Burnout Paradise and that is something is to be expected seeing as the same development team is at the helm, but everything in this particular title is just that little bit better. Also, taking into account how good the game looks, it is great to see the on-screen moving along at a brisk pace. You won’t notice any sort of drop in the frame rate and, quite frankly, that is a fantastic achievement on the part of Criterion Games.

SOUND: The soundtrack in Hot Pursuit is an acquired taste, to say the least, but as a companion to the on-screen action, it works well. As a racer you will be treated to a mix of pumping rock anthems and energetic hip-hop beats. When playing as a cop, however, the focus shifts from actual songs to dramatic music. Couple that with some very believable radio chatter and playing as a cop becomes one highly charged, immersive experience.

It’s fair to say that Hot Pursuit isn’t the most realistic of racing games, but the engine sounds are authentic enough to make you believe you are driving some of the most powerful cars in the world. For instance, take control of the Bugatti Veyron in the game and the roar emanating from the engine is enough to make you believe you’re driving around in this beast of car. Sound effects such as rain and thunder are also fantastically recreated, especially the latter.

Stop signs don't mean much in Seacrest County.

GAMEPLAY: As far as arcade racing games go, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit handles like a dream. Much like the visuals, Criterion Games have taken the Burnout Paradise blueprint and improved on it. The handling is ever so slightly more realistic than the aforementioned game, but still remains firmly in arcade territory. Criterion Games seem to have found that sweet spot between the two different styles of racing games and Hot Pursuit embraces it quite brilliantly. It might take a race or two to get to grips with everything, but after that you will be drifting around corners like a pro. Speaking of which, the feeling you get when you nail a perfect drift around a sweeping corner is filled with pure gaming bliss. That feeling is amplified when you emerge from the drift unscathed and boost your way past a rival into the lead.

The fun arcade handling would be nothing without content to go with and thankfully Hot Pursuit has plenty of that. The career mode, which can be alternately played as a racer or a cop, is packed full of a myriad of highly enjoyable and progressively challenging events. As a racer it’s mainly all about trying to win races and keeping the cops at bay, something which gets quite challenging later on in the game. On the other hand, as a member of the SCPD your main goal is to shut down races by taking out those pesky racers. Even though these events are accessed via a Burnout Paradise style map, they are not based in a fully open world. You do have the option of driving around Seacrest County as a cop or racer (Freedrive), but you do not have the ability to trigger events as you do this. Variation comes in the form of time trial events which give you access to super cars that otherwise are only available in the latter half of the game. These events are a welcome addition and serve their purpose as a nice little break away from the madness of the races and pursuits.

In fact, talking about the madness of the races and pursuits actually doesn’t do them justice. You have to partake in these events to understand how over the top, fun and immensely immersive they are. The idea of racing and getting away from the cops or taking down racers is simple, but the execution of these aspects in Hot Pursuit is brilliant. You would be forgiven for thinking that being the cops is the best way to play this game, but that is certainly not the case. Taking down racers is certainly fun, but the core gameplay is very well balanced and that makes stepping into the shoes of either side a huge amount of fun. The racers are armed with unique upgradeable abilities such as turbo and jammers (very useful), whereas the cops have access to road blocks and helicopters. In addition to that, to keep things even, both sides have access to EMPs and spike strips (these can be upgraded too). Every single one of these abilities has a counter and therein lies the beauty of the chase/escape mechanic included in the game. On the surface everything seems very simple, but when you pop open the hood you will be greeted by a surprising layer of depth.

Driving a super car between two heavy duty police vehicles, easy peasy.

When we spoke to Criterion Games back in October, we were told that their aim was to provide fans with a game that included super exotic cars, epic drives, brilliant police chases and the ability to play as a cop. Well, on all the counts, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit succeeds quite spectacularly. The chases and ability to play as a cop have been discussed, but what about the super exotic cars and epic drives? Well, the game starts you off with them and then regularly rewards you with better ones as you earn bounty by completing events and certain tasks. There’s none of that starting out in reasonably priced car and slowly working your way up to get your hands on a proper drive. Hot Pursuit is all about giving you access to the fastest cars in the world and then letting you drive them around the fictional setting of Seacrest County at break neck speeds; it’s like a boy racer’s wet dream.

MULTIPLAYER: Even though Hot Pursuit includes an excellent fully-fledged online mode, the real star of the show is the games Autolog system. This “always connected” system takes the idea of an online leaderboard and turns it into something rather amazing. Rather than comparing you with random people across the globe, Criterion Games have realised the only people you want to compete with are your friends. This is where Autolog comes in; it takes people on your friends list with Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit and brings them directly into your game. Every single time you boot up Hot Pursuit, Autolog informs you about the progress of your friends in comparison with you. The system encourages friendly competitiveness and even if you’re not someone who is usually bothered about such things, you will get caught up in it. The moment you see that a friend has beaten a time of yours, you will want to get some revenge and get back above him/her as soon as possible. It’s almost like a second career mode which is always evolving depending on what you and your friends are doing. Simply put, Autolog is a fantastic addition to an already amazing game.

Also, rather than taking advantage of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, Autolog creates its own little network within the game and it works really well. You have the wall where you can leave messages when you beat a friend’s time and you also have a section for photos where you can share memorable moments such as crashes or takedowns.

As mentioned earlier, Autolog aside, Hot Pursuit does feature a fully-fledged online mode and it’s fantastic. The modes on offer are similar to those in the career mode, with the obvious difference being the participation of human players. The 4 vs. 4 online matches (cop against racers), in particular, are a huge amount of fun and surprisingly intense, especially when you’re the last racer remaining. Just try keeping your cool with three human cop players on your tail as you approach the finish line, it’s a hard task to say the least.

Not much to say here really, so let's just marvel at the beauty.

LONGEVITY: With a career mode consisting of over 100 events, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit should keep you going for a good 12-15 hours. However, when you throw the fantastic Autolog system and online play into the mix, the game could sink its teeth into you many hours beyond that. In fact, if you have friends that own the game and play it regularly, Hot Pursuit could keep you going for a very very long time.

VERDICT: You know you’re playing a special game when the only “fault” you can find relates to skipping cut-scenes and restarting events. Every other aspect of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is so expertly crafted that it is hard not fall in love with it; it’s just an incredible amount of fun.

Not only does it live up to its title, it surpasses it with considerable ease. Without a shadow of a doubt, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is the quintessential arcade racing game of this generation. Ironically, the only title that comes close is Criterion Games previous effort, Burnout Paradise.

Our scoring policy

comments
 
Leave a reply »

 
  • classic NFS RACER
    November 29, 2010 at 4:28 am

    I once was excited after hearing about hotpursuit but now NAH!! this games sucks monekyballs. who in the hell is a NFS fan in their right mind need AUTOLOG?? fk autolog. criterion could have done online gaming ONLY!! plus if you dont know anyone online to compete how in the hell are you going to progress?? other than that the graphic are Excellent!! just wish they would have re-done HP2 with same tracks. this another NFS I’ll have to pass-up plus shift 2 guess in 2011-12 a decent NFS will come. damn I’ll be 54 then lol

    Reply

  • classic NFS RACER
    November 29, 2010 at 4:28 am

    I once was excited after hearing about hotpursuit but now NAH!! this games sucks monekyballs. who in the hell is a NFS fan in their right mind need AUTOLOG?? fk autolog. criterion could have done online gaming ONLY!! plus if you dont know anyone online to compete how in the hell are you going to progress?? other than that the graphic are Excellent!! just wish they would have re-done HP2 with same tracks. this another NFS I’ll have to pass-up plus shift 2 guess in 2011-12 a decent NFS will come. damn I’ll be 54 then lol

    Reply

    • Anonymous
      November 29, 2010 at 11:09 am

      Just to be clear here, are you saying that the game “sucks monkeyballs” without playing it? You say you are going to “pass up” this game, so how can you be sure it sucks?

      Honestly, this is one of the standout racing games of this generation. Autolog is a revelation and will be poached by developers for their games in the same way the Halo party system was poached. The game has a rich single player too if you don’t have access to the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live.

      Why would you want someone to remake a game with the same tracks, you’d be happy to pay for an exact remake? :-S

      Fair play that you feel that way, but you really ought to give Hot Pursuit a chance, it’s phenomenal.

      Reply

    • Anonymous
      November 29, 2010 at 11:09 am

      Just to be clear here, are you saying that the game “sucks monkeyballs” without playing it? You say you are going to “pass up” this game, so how can you be sure it sucks?

      Honestly, this is one of the standout racing games of this generation. Autolog is a revelation and will be poached by developers for their games in the same way the Halo party system was poached. The game has a rich single player too if you don’t have access to the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live.

      Why would you want someone to remake a game with the same tracks, you’d be happy to pay for an exact remake? :-S

      Fair play that you feel that way, but you really ought to give Hot Pursuit a chance, it’s phenomenal.

      Reply

      • classic NFS racer
        November 29, 2010 at 6:17 pm

        @jebusf

        dude, i have ALL need for speed games and played this one……. including TRACK AN FIELD PRESENTS THE NEED FOR SPEED 3DO game.
        which criterion lied saying they took NFS back to its roots this hotpursuit almost bad as PROSTREETS
        reason I said it would be nice remaking HOTPURSUIT 2 just for graphic alone would be awsome. if blackbox studio could remake hotpursuit 2 like criterions hotpursuit HELL fking yeah I would buy it even if its the same tracks!!! real trees, real landscapes etc… the only MAIN reason I did not buy it becuz I like 2-player games I dont want or need to play online to many pre-teen- teenagers, young 21-25 imature youth with foul mouth. I want to play not hear someone calling someone a ass-hoe,tool,dork, m-fker. I like the old days of 2 player at home, this GAME SIMPLY sucks monkeyballs compare to old school style NFS

        Reply

      • classic NFS racer
        November 29, 2010 at 6:17 pm

        @jebusf

        dude, i have ALL need for speed games and played this one……. including TRACK AN FIELD PRESENTS THE NEED FOR SPEED 3DO game.
        which criterion lied saying they took NFS back to its roots this hotpursuit almost bad as PROSTREETS
        reason I said it would be nice remaking HOTPURSUIT 2 just for graphic alone would be awsome. if blackbox studio could remake hotpursuit 2 like criterions hotpursuit HELL fking yeah I would buy it even if its the same tracks!!! real trees, real landscapes etc… the only MAIN reason I did not buy it becuz I like 2-player games I dont want or need to play online to many pre-teen- teenagers, young 21-25 imature youth with foul mouth. I want to play not hear someone calling someone a ass-hoe,tool,dork, m-fker. I like the old days of 2 player at home, this GAME SIMPLY sucks monkeyballs compare to old school style NFS

        Reply

      • classic NFS racer
        November 29, 2010 at 6:17 pm

        @jebusf

        dude, i have ALL need for speed games and played this one……. including TRACK AN FIELD PRESENTS THE NEED FOR SPEED 3DO game.
        which criterion lied saying they took NFS back to its roots this hotpursuit almost bad as PROSTREETS
        reason I said it would be nice remaking HOTPURSUIT 2 just for graphic alone would be awsome. if blackbox studio could remake hotpursuit 2 like criterions hotpursuit HELL fking yeah I would buy it even if its the same tracks!!! real trees, real landscapes etc… the only MAIN reason I did not buy it becuz I like 2-player games I dont want or need to play online to many pre-teen- teenagers, young 21-25 imature youth with foul mouth. I want to play not hear someone calling someone a ass-hoe,tool,dork, m-fker. I like the old days of 2 player at home, this GAME SIMPLY sucks monkeyballs compare to old school style NFS

        Reply

      • NFS Disapointment
        December 2, 2010 at 3:25 am

        Well, I did try this game! I’ve been a fan of NFS for years, and, this is hands down the worst version of NFS I’ve ever played! There’s no free roam! There’s no upgrades for the cars, There’s no Tuning for the cars! The only driving view is behind the car, I always like bumper cam or behind the wheel, realistic view! Hell, the only thing you can do is a pick a color for the car! Then they give you a EMP device that somehow only affects the car you target and lock on? How can that work? An EMP would disrupt all electronics in it’s radius! Then the COP’s have enough revenue to purchase exotic rare high performance vehicles to use as interceptors! This may be fun, but not based in any reality! So, the description “sucks monkeyballs” is very apt! This rates as level one NFS Hot pursuit, it’s too easy! This is a total regression of the NFS racing platform!

        Reply

      • NFS Disapointment
        December 2, 2010 at 3:25 am

        Well, I did try this game! I’ve been a fan of NFS for years, and, this is hands down the worst version of NFS I’ve ever played! There’s no free roam! There’s no upgrades for the cars, There’s no Tuning for the cars! The only driving view is behind the car, I always like bumper cam or behind the wheel, realistic view! Hell, the only thing you can do is a pick a color for the car! Then they give you a EMP device that somehow only affects the car you target and lock on? How can that work? An EMP would disrupt all electronics in it’s radius! Then the COP’s have enough revenue to purchase exotic rare high performance vehicles to use as interceptors! This may be fun, but not based in any reality! So, the description “sucks monkeyballs” is very apt! This rates as level one NFS Hot pursuit, it’s too easy! This is a total regression of the NFS racing platform!

        Reply

      • NFS Disapointment
        December 2, 2010 at 3:25 am

        Well, I did try this game! I’ve been a fan of NFS for years, and, this is hands down the worst version of NFS I’ve ever played! There’s no free roam! There’s no upgrades for the cars, There’s no Tuning for the cars! The only driving view is behind the car, I always like bumper cam or behind the wheel, realistic view! Hell, the only thing you can do is a pick a color for the car! Then they give you a EMP device that somehow only affects the car you target and lock on? How can that work? An EMP would disrupt all electronics in it’s radius! Then the COP’s have enough revenue to purchase exotic rare high performance vehicles to use as interceptors! This may be fun, but not based in any reality! So, the description “sucks monkeyballs” is very apt! This rates as level one NFS Hot pursuit, it’s too easy! This is a total regression of the NFS racing platform!

        Reply

        • Anonymous
          December 2, 2010 at 7:30 pm

          Erm, this is NOT a realistic racing game. What you’re saying is like complaining about a Kettle not being able to iron your clothes.

          Opinion has it’s place, but what you’re stating here is quite ridiculous. If you want realism I suggest you try Gran Turismo or Forza. Apart from Shift, none of the other NFS games are bathed in realism. It’s all about the “over the top” fun with NFS games, not realism. Regression of the NFS racing platform. You’re wrong I’m afraid. What NFS Hot Pursuit does is take the series back to its over the top, crazy and fun roots.

          Reply

          • Sbrecht
            December 29, 2010 at 4:55 am

            Try a classic NFS game and you’ll understand why people are upset…

            – no cops or chases in the free roaming mode
            – no replay
            – no control over free roaming time of day or weather
            – no manual transmission
            – no split screen / 2 player

            NFS:HP had all of these 12 years ago and none of them now. This is a poor excuse for a HP successor.


          • Anonymous
            December 29, 2010 at 2:20 pm

            Regarding the manual transmission, (I don’t know why I am repeating myself here) this is an arcade racing game. I doubt he majority of people playing this game will want to play with a manual transmission whilst so much stuff is going on around you. It’s a concious design decision on the part of Criterion Games and a very good one at that.

            Everything else you mention is person preference to be honest. Sure, split screen might be a deal breaker for some, but for most people it won’t be at all. Funnily enough, me and a few guys from the website were playing this last night and had an awesome time just passing the pad around trying to beat each others times.

            The free roam stuff you mention, again, I think the majority of people just won’t care. They just want to get into races or hot pursuits as soon as possible, they want instant action…that is what this NFS Hot Pursuit is all about. It’s about having adrenaline filled fun whilst driving super fast cars as a cop or a racer. It’s not a succcessor, it’s Criterion Games take on Hot Pursuit and it is a fantastic game. Sorry, you can’t see that…but the majority of other people who have played the game most certainly can.


          • Guest
            January 6, 2011 at 6:37 pm

            Your logic of why there is no manual transmission option may be the most retarded logic I have ever heard. The simple fact that they did not even include the OPTION to have a manual transmission makes this game a piece of crap excuse for a racing game regardless of type – arcade, cartoon, battle, realistic, simulator, whatever. I never post in comment sections, but reading your comment of the reasoning of why you feel they didn’t include, once again, the OPTION to have a stick shift, is so mind-numbingly stupid that the only capacity my mind has left after your stupidity numbing it is to type this reply expressing your idiocy. Thank you, and happy new year.


        • Anonymous
          December 2, 2010 at 7:30 pm

          Erm, this is NOT a realistic racing game. What you’re saying is like complaining about a Kettle not being able to iron your clothes.

          Opinion has it’s place, but what you’re stating here is quite ridiculous. If you want realism I suggest you try Gran Turismo or Forza. Apart from Shift, none of the other NFS games are bathed in realism. It’s all about the “over the top” fun with NFS games, not realism. Regression of the NFS racing platform. You’re wrong I’m afraid. What NFS Hot Pursuit does is take the series back to its over the top, crazy and fun roots.

          Reply

        • Anonymous
          December 2, 2010 at 7:30 pm

          Erm, this is NOT a realistic racing game. What you’re saying is like complaining about a Kettle not being able to iron your clothes.

          Opinion has it’s place, but what you’re stating here is quite ridiculous. If you want realism I suggest you try Gran Turismo or Forza. Apart from Shift, none of the other NFS games are bathed in realism. It’s all about the “over the top” fun with NFS games, not realism. Regression of the NFS racing platform. You’re wrong I’m afraid. What NFS Hot Pursuit does is take the series back to its over the top, crazy and fun roots.

          Reply

      • IHATENFSHP3
        January 24, 2011 at 10:57 pm

        I don’t agree.. cuz when I was first heard of NFS n I was like getting a goooood time but now it sucks SHIT n graphics is like PISSED OFF n the difficulty is out of universe n hw could you play this fReaKIN game

        Reply

    • Anonymous
      November 29, 2010 at 11:09 am

      Just to be clear here, are you saying that the game “sucks monkeyballs” without playing it? You say you are going to “pass up” this game, so how can you be sure it sucks?

      Honestly, this is one of the standout racing games of this generation. Autolog is a revelation and will be poached by developers for their games in the same way the Halo party system was poached. The game has a rich single player too if you don’t have access to the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live.

      Why would you want someone to remake a game with the same tracks, you’d be happy to pay for an exact remake? :-S

      Fair play that you feel that way, but you really ought to give Hot Pursuit a chance, it’s phenomenal.

      Reply

  • classic NFS RACER
    November 29, 2010 at 4:28 am

    I once was excited after hearing about hotpursuit but now NAH!! this games sucks monekyballs. who in the hell is a NFS fan in their right mind need AUTOLOG?? fk autolog. criterion could have done online gaming ONLY!! plus if you dont know anyone online to compete how in the hell are you going to progress?? other than that the graphic are Excellent!! just wish they would have re-done HP2 with same tracks. this another NFS I’ll have to pass-up plus shift 2 guess in 2011-12 a decent NFS will come. damn I’ll be 54 then lol

    Reply

  • just another NFS player
    December 11, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    i would like to know – wanted to know for a while. can you get police/cops to come after you when you are in ‘racer freedrive mode’ ? i was bored and i didnt want to race, just to get chased. im not very far through the game racerwise. can you or not? thanks (:

    Reply

  • just another NFS player
    December 11, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    i would like to know – wanted to know for a while. can you get police/cops to come after you when you are in ‘racer freedrive mode’ ? i was bored and i didnt want to race, just to get chased. im not very far through the game racerwise. can you or not? thanks (:

    Reply

  • just another NFS player
    December 11, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    i would like to know – wanted to know for a while. can you get police/cops to come after you when you are in ‘racer freedrive mode’ ? i was bored and i didnt want to race, just to get chased. im not very far through the game racerwise. can you or not? thanks (:

    Reply

  • Sbrecht
    December 29, 2010 at 4:51 am

    If you were used to the old Hot Pursuit releases, this new version sucks.

    – no cops or chases in the free roaming mode
    – no replay
    – no control over free roaming time of day or weather
    – no manual transmission
    – no split screen

    All of these were in NFS:HS 12 years ago! This might be fun in online multi-player mode, but quite frankly it is a POOR replacement for the flexibility and fun of the original version. 5/10 from me.

    Reply

  • Fyf
    January 29, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    this game is not good at all

    Reply

  • guest
    February 10, 2011 at 7:31 am

    on xbox 360 graphics suck cant see traffic cars on freeway they are blurry no depth perception . cars handle like driving a ford f150 with wornout steering . when you cant tell a car from a street sign on a 50inch hdtv. great graphics if your standing still. Game is big dissapointment and tech support wont help you with issues besides telling to read blogs for help . Will never buy another game from EA sports.

    Reply

  • Guest
    February 17, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    This game sucks!!!! It is the worst game ever!!!

    Reply

  • Poutewwe
    March 25, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    hhjjhhjhhjhhjjh

    Reply

  • Nic
    April 30, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    I got this game thinking i would love to play NFS again, since i hate driving on closed tracks like in Shift i decided to get this since it was on actual road. Ive played it for a while now and i gotta say it pretty much sucks. The game is fine graphic wise, i like that BUT gameplay pretty much sucks, i like that every car has a new handling to it but still sucks. Theres no tuning or enhancing looks other than the paint which does not even have costume paint jobs. Total disappointment im selling it as soon as possible. If i were to dream of the next perfect Need for Speed game it would be a Underground 3 because the underground 1 and 2 were dream games, basicly it was perfect. So that is my dream. Just not this im not gonna state anymore why this sucks because “Sbrecht [Moderator]” pretty much got it right. Other than that ima say DONT BUY THIS GAME.

    Reply

  • GG
    June 5, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    This game DOESN’T suck! In fact this is one of the best games in NFS along with underground and most wanted series, high stakes and nfs world. I Don’t know why people rage about it so much, i mean there is free roam, and good drift mechanic. I don’t really like the cockpit view and the manual transmission. And for that this game is very good.

    Reply

Leave a Response