Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Reader Review
The Need for Speed franchise seems to be having an identity crisis of late, there seems to be a different type of NFS game arriving round the corner at any given moment. With the successful first steps into track racing with the decent Shift, here is the re-imagining of the successful early noughties franchise, Hot Pursuit.
The NFS series, had got itself stuck into a little bit of a hole of late. With the series in its magnitude of different forms struggling to find its self amongst a wealth of series of different racers. The series lacked any real direction, and relied on different ideas from different games, without offering anything of its own to spice up a busy marketplace. Shift, was a welcome turnaround for the franchise, and Hot Pursuit, successfully, continues these first steps into becoming a franchise of critically, but also commercial acclaim.
I enjoy most racers, i love the deep sim esq qualities of Gran Turismo, the fast and involving F1 title from Codemasters, and the pure arcade experience from Criterion's Burnout series. I enjoy all, because they offer something different, and NFS HP, to varying success can be added to that list.
And its with courtesy of Criterion, that we have this new arcade racer. The game is essentially split down the middle, you are either a Cop, or a Racer. There are about 4 or 5 ways to play each side, and its upon this that the single player campaign is built upon. The wealth of different ways to play Cops n robbers is a delight, and adds real depth to what is essentially a series of different events placed upon a map. The more races you complete, the more events (and cars- which are rewarded to you at a great rate to give a sense of progression) you unlock. You are going to be split down the middle on the single player mode, some will essentially see it as group of races to get through, but others will get sucked in it by two impressive features.
The first is Autolog mode, in which the times of your friends results on each event are posted upon a 'speedwall'. Simply beat their times to go top of the wall. If you have many friends, this is a great side feature that adds that replay-ability and competition that the game desperatly needs.
The second feature is obtaining Golds on each event. I have been really drawn in by this- not just as a trophy/achievement, but because getting Golds, is actually quite tough, and rewards driving at your limit, learning the game, tracks and shortcuts. It builds upon its gameplay, learning it, and trying to utilise everything you have learned, and putting it into practice and pushing yourself to get that all elusive gold medal. Its a great feature, and a great challenge that really for me adds so much depth to a what is a essentially a pretty flat single player mode.
The gameplay is pretty solid, but could do with some tweaking, because, at times, this game is seriously frustrating. Really Frustrating. The gameplay is of a pretty standard affair, Fill your boost by driving in and out traffic, drifting, and using any weapons you have by taking out other racers/cops. If you played any other racer, you know what you are getting here. But... the driving mechanics are a bit wayward. Every time you think you have, especially the drifting, nailed down on how to do it, you won't and you can't really put down why you havn't drifted around a bend and ended up in a barrier. The actual drifting is fine, and its as fun and rewarding directing your car around a bend has Outrun was, but it initiating the drifts that sometimes don't always work, it is odd to explain, but i'm sure others will know what i mean.
When you are putting a great run together, its often the case, and not good for the heart and mind, that you will come across something, anything that will ruin your time. Crashing. Into cars in the line of a drift, into cars coming over hills when you can't see them, coming onto a straight but there are cars either side of the road in the same place which leaves you nowhere to go, cars coming out of nowhere from blocked off routes.. GAH!. thinking about it makes me mad!
But essentially the gameplay is fun, fast paced, and somewhat addictive, especially obtaining those golds! It has pulled me back time and time again, and look forward to throwing a great wealth of cars around. The tracks are well designed, flowing curves, interesting take on shortcuts (some are longer and used as escape routes), and a variety of vistas. The handling is great and has a decent weight to it at top speed, but shockingly bad at low speed when trying to recover after a crash.
Online mode is superb. 3 modes are offered, Hot pursuit (cops vs robbers, 4vs4) Interceptor ( 1vs1) and general racing. Hot pursuit is fantastic, intense, and deceptively stragetic (Where and when to deploy road blocks), its a great game online, and will give anyone bored of shooting things a great week or so with it online, and back for more now and again.
NFS:HP, like Shift, is a great re-imaging for what was becoming a stale and stagnant series, the developers realise the fun and excitement is to be had in its gameplay, and not flashing lights, how it looks and a world decorated in neon. Its a great game to have on the side to work through as you play through something else.