NFS is exciting again.
The last time I purchased a Need for Speed title new was Most Wanted. If felt like Hot Pursuit, but was missing something. That something is what Hot Pursuit brings to the table. Much like the original Hot Pursuit, this one is all about speed and running from the cops.
If you're new to the series, here's a heads up. Need for Speed is not a racing simulator. It's not trying to be. If anything, it's a Fast & The Furious simulator. It's an action-movie style racing game. If you're familiar with the series, take a step back and pretend Underground, ProStreet, Shift, and the likes never happened. This is directly after the Most Wanted/Hot Pursuit style of Need for Speed we all like. The series is back to illegal street racing on a higher scale.
Career mode is setup into two different categories: pursuit career and racing career. Both are tied into each other. I started my career as a police officer, since I'm normally a bad guy in video games. You're given a map with symbols on it. Each symbol represents your career path. As a police officer, you're duties are to stop illegal races, and as a racer, you're just suppose to dodge police and win the races. There's no story. Just pure racing. And stopping it.
Each race you complete, it feels like you're constantly unlocking cars which can be used online or in single player. You also unlock weapon upgrades. "Weapons?", you ask? Yes, weapons. You'll end up dropping spiked strips on the road to pop tires, call for police backup for road blocks, helicopters to drop spikes further away from you, and shoot someone with an EMP. If anything, the EMP is the only weapon I wish was eliminated, just because it feels a bit like Mario Kart during a race when someone hits you with one.
On top of unlocking things, one of the more exciting features of this game is the Autolog. Much like the name suggest, the Autolog auto logs your stats to a sort of EA Facebook application that's in the game. It's basically a leaderboard with your friends. When a friend beats your score, the game updates you with what happened and you can fight for your rank back. It might sound like just a friend leaderboard, and essentially that's what it is, but it adds a lot to the gameplay. I've gone back a few times and redid races to retake my glorious 3rd place ranking from a few friends.
The visuals are nice. They might not be 1080p with 60 frames per second, but it keeps it's own. There's a few jagged edges here and there, but it's nothing to completely cry over. The cars are nicely modeled and the sceneries are wonderful. If any visual complaint really exist, it's the lack of a dash cam. Otherwise, it works. The sounds are fine too. The soundtrack is a bit forgettable, or maybe I just haven't really listened to it since I'm constantly thinking about which route to take to ram my car into a racer so I can give him a ticket. Oh, and there's damaged car models. Cars tent up real nice.
The gameplay feels like a mix of Need for Speed and Burnout 3's road rage mode. I always thought road rage was Burnout's best feature, so being able to play that with real world cars is a blast. Nothing more exciting than seeing you bump a Porsche into oncoming traffic and watching it flip a few times on the road. Given that Criterion Games made the game, it's no wonder it feels like Burnout. There's also an option for a free roam mode, for those that want that sort of thing.
One thing to point out that is really annoying is the traffic. There's not enough of it, and randomly, you'll end up ramming into a car that popped out of nowhere. This happened to me over a dozen times already. I've lost a match because of a car popping out of thin air on the road right in front of me before. And sometimes, cars will just disappear. It's pretty sloppy, and my biggest complaint so far.
If you're a fan of realism or customization, leave your bags at the door. This isn't your game. This game relies on light Ridge Racer drifting, streamlining, and action. Outside of paint jobs, there's no customization for your cars. This is strictly a pure arcade racing title. Being able to mod the look of your car is greatly missed. Part of the fun of Most Wanted was customizing that look for online play. Maybe next time.
Online so far has been a blast. There's nothing worth noting other than the basic gameplay modes. Pursuit has made it into the online play. It's a whole lot of fun. Still, the game lacks a split-screen mode so better hope your friends just buy this game to play with you.
+ Autolog for tracking friends and your progress
+ Pursuit mode is addictive
- Traffic pop-ins/outs
- No customizations