Any game that gets one thing right can be a great game. And NFS: Hot Pursuit gets one thing right. White knuckle racing. Hot Pursuit is a pretty simple game and does not even bother with things like story. Some NFS fans may miss the cheesy dialog and over the top acting but what Hot Pursuit lacks in camp, it makes up for in addictive racing and take-downs.
There are basically three types of races; your timed race, full out hot pursuit, and one versus one take-down of a racer. Because the pursuit modes are so much fun, it makes the basic speed runs feel kind of dull by comparison. But you put up with those just to unlock the next series of pursuits and to advance as a cop or a racer. Along with unlocking new cars, you also unlock and upgrade your gadgets. The pacing of the unlocks is pretty fast but I tend to like unlocking new car after most wins.
The real fun of this game is the pursuit modes where you get to unleash a number of gadgets including spike strips, EMPs, road blocks, and even helicopters. The cops get the road block and choppers while the racer get the a super-turbo and a device that blocks the cops radar and devices for a time. As the cops, your job is to take down one or all the racers. As a racer, you goal is to get out in front of your racing rivals while avoiding (or taking out) the cops.
Picking an event could not be simpler, just pick any available event from the map. You can do both racer and cop missions at any time and you can advance both careers how ever you like. I tend to favor the cop missions but both are very tense. At times, the racers can be frustrating because you can find yourself at a sudden disadvantage after one or two missteps. But the game seems fair so after every close call or one too many accidents, you feel that need for just one more try. And when things go just a bit in your favor you can find yourself in 1st place at the end of a crazy battle between cops, racers and it feels sweet. Most of the races are bite-size (5 minutes) while other are more epic events (up to 10 or so minutes) but its nice to be able to just run a couple of races and put it down (if you can).
The online component is also very simple and very addictive. The multi-player is pretty much the same thing as the career mode but of course you are competing against real people instead of the games AI. One really nice thing here is because its often hot pursuit (cops vs racers) its not all that critical that you communicate with the other drivers. And for some, who don't want to here all the negative talk online, you can just disable chat (except for you friends list) and you can still enjoy this game quite a bit. After all, you are a cop trying to take down the other racers and its pretty hard to coordinate an attack at the speeds in the game (though that would be a bonus for advanced players for sure).
So, while I would admit the game lacks the depth of sim style racers and it may not have the comic flare of other NFS titles, its just keeps doing one thing really well. Cops and robbers.. errr racers and its an addictive blast.