The New Hot Pursuit
If you're a fan of the Need for Speed racing franchise, you would probably agree that it's been a roller-coaster of a ride featuring mostly low points. It seems like with every game it was either hit or miss and I know a lot of people who have been greatly disappointed in some of the more recent installments. This time Criterion Games, the minds behind the great arcade racing series Burnout, have taken the wheel in the latest version/remake of the classic NFS subsidiary--hot pursuit. It didn't take long for me to realize that this is exactly what the franchise needed to stay alive.
The very first NFS title I played was NFS II Special Edition on PC way back in 1997 or so. I remember clearly that the game featured a slew of exotic cars and was presented very well for its time. Then I moved to NFS III: Hot Pursuit on the PS1 and it was one of my favorite games in 1998. But that was then, and this is now. The new Hot Pursuit, like its roots, is a collection of race modes that is highly influenced by the chase. There's rarely a dull moment to be had while behind the wheel and although the game reads Need for Speed the game is truly a Criterion creation.
Their approach to making a sizable NFS title clearly resembles Burnout Paradise, but offers a new open world map and real-world cars to choose from. Both look absolutely stunning and the car models may be some of the best I've seen so far in a game. I can really appreciate the amount of detail in the models and unlike some of the previous games some of the cars are officially licensed by the manufacturers. This has undoubtedly allowed Criterion and EA to achieve a very accurate representation of the games' rides. The game world is also beautiful and the weather effects add an interesting touch to the events. All of the scenery passes by gracefully and the vehicle handling is very fluid.
Hot Pursuit's game-play isn't anything special, but it does provide players with balanced pacing and a smooth learning curve. It's just right in the difficulty department but at the same time is challenging enough to keep you wanting more. Needless to say it's hard to put down once you start going and is very rewarding. You may choose to either break the law, or enforce it in the career mode and your event results will effect your status in the game. You'll unlock new rides as you complete events but there's no buying or selling involved. Just win and drive. I find that this is a better system for arcade-style racers because it keeps the game moving and gives you access to great cars quickly.
The game also offers a very dynamic multiplayer matchmaking system, much like Burnout Paradise did. Players can find and race their friends, compete in tournaments, and even share photos of the carnage. While it's not quite as chaotic as Burnout, Hot Pursuit still has plenty of thrills and is a great game for anyone who likes to drive fast. I can recommend it to both fans of the genre and even people who don't normally play racing games. Overall I think the developers did a great job of bringing the NFS series back to its roots and created a game that's both simpler and more balanced than most of the previous installments. It's been a rough ride for fans, but I can assure you that this one is the real deal.