Single Player Career Review
Need for Speed is back and better than ever with the help from Criterion Games, the people that have brought you the amazing Burnout series. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is EA's return to put some life back into the Need for Speed franchise. Need for Speed has been getting dull and has not been exciting for awhile, so EA looked to Criterion to take time out from the Burnout series to make them a new starting off point for the Hot Pursuit series.
Hot Pursuit has no story and the game does not suffer from it. There is no full motion video from bad actors trying to force a crappy story down your throat. I can't believe I am saying this but the game is better off not having one. Hot Pursuit takes place in a fictional county called Seacrest County where racers come to test out there street racing skills and the police department has an unlimited supply of money to buy exotic cop cars. The main career is broken up into two different racing classes. You are able to play as the racers or the Seacrest County Police Department (SCPD). You select races from an overview map of Seacrest County with each location housing several different events depending on what class you are playing as. Switching from the racer class to the SCPD class is quick and easy and helps offer up some variety if you get tired of playing as a certain class.
There are different types of events to choose from depending on the class you are playing as. The racer class has events that have you trying to escape police custody in the Gauntlet event or competing against other racers while being chased in Hot Pursuit events. When you play as the racers, you are given weapons to use on your opponents or cops that are trying to shut you down in certain events. Don’t worry Hot Pursuit is not trying to imitate Mario Kart in any way. You are given certain weapons that range from a spike strip that lets you flatten anyone’s tires that is behind you. The jammer is used to interrupt the police radio so they can’t communicate for a short period. An EMP blast shorts out anyone’s electronics that you have in front of you and is targeted. And the turbo that does what is says it gives you a shot of turbo so you can escape police capture or finish the race.
The SCPD events range from; Hot Pursuit where you are tasked with taking down a number of racers before they cross the finish line to Interceptor events that has you try to stop a lone racer that is very good at evading capture. There are also Rapid Response events that have you driving as fast as you can through the county to get to a road block to stop a racer, this is basically a time trial event. Playing as the SCPD you also have access to various weapons just like the racer class does. They have the same access to the EMP and the spike strip but they also can call for a helicopter or for a road block. The helicopter will fly out in front of the racer or racers and lay down a spike strip at just the right time. Calling in for a road block will setup a barrack of SCPD cars to stop or slow down any racers.
When you play as a cop or a racer you will be building experience for that character while doing events. With finishing each event you earn bounty that is used to unlock more cars, upgraded weapons, and new series events. The cars in Hot Pursuit look great and they handle a bit stiffer then what cars did in the Burnout games. The amount of cars gives you plenty of options to choose from and all of them are licensed vehicles. You have cars from BMW to McLaren to Lamborghini; they offer a wide variety of choices to choose from. As you get farther into Hot Pursuit you unlock new series events that are like the old events but with faster cars. You are also able to earn bounty by performing takedowns, takedowns are one of the main stable in the Burnout franchise and they have brought it to Hot Pursuit. I found takedowns to be harder then what they were in Burnout games but they are still fun to pull off. Just like in Burnout when you perform a takedown the game goes to slow motion and shows the car doing rolls and flying through the air. I found myself doing takedowns at the right moment that cars would flip over a railing and off the edge of a cliff; I love it when that happens.
While driving you has access to nitrous that gives you a little speed boost. You gain nitrous by driving in on-coming traffic, slipstreaming behind somebody and narrowing missing any traffic that is on the road. You soon learn that the best place to use your nitrous is when you come out of a turn to get yourself back up to top speed. Drifting is also a staple in Hot Pursuit just like Burnout, it took me a couple of hours to get the hang of it but towards the end I got use to it. The game looks amazing, from the menus down to the environments, it is simply jaw dropping.
Prior to this review I was checking out my stats and found out that I had been playing for well over 20 hours. It didn’t feel like I played for that long but that just goes to show you how much fun I had. If you enjoyed this year’s other arcade racing games you will no doubt love Hot Pursuit. It is great to see a new racing Criterion game. Need for Speed offers up a large amount of value for just a single player career, with the persistent leveling system that pushes you to level up your character and makes you tell yourself just one more race. No matter what side you play as the cops or the racers, you will no problem chasing down bad guys or trying to flee successfully from the cops.