“Hot Pursuit Is Back!
Need for Speed (NFS) is back and faster than ever in Need For Speed Hot Pursuit 2! Engage in the next generation thrill of arcade racing with the spiritual successor to the highly acclaimed, award winning Need For Speed III Hot Pursuit. Drafting on its award-winning legacy, Need For Speed Hot Pursuit 2 stays true to the heritage of housing a stable of exclusive and exotic cars from the world’s most coveted licensors including Ferrari, Porsche® and Lamborghini… to name a few. Become the “Champion Road Racer” by conquering numerous racing events, all carrying rewards such as: cars, tracks and high performance upgrades. The game challenges the driver to dodge traffic, police and natural elements in high speed and high style… true NFS style! Evade any cops encountered, as getting busted just might end your career.”
The game is broken down into many single modes and a multiplayer mode. The main single player game is called Hot Pursuit, which is a branching tree path of racing events pitting you against other computer racers and the cops. Championship mode is a single player event, but without the thrill of the police chase. Single race allows you to choose a track, car, and opponents to races once against. Also, you can choose ‘Be the cop’ mode to track down and bust computer speeders. Quick race drops you right into a race, with the computer choosing everything for you. The multiplayer mode lets you race against others on-line or LAN-based. The options menu is hardly robust at all, containing just the basic audio, video, and control settings.
Finishing in the top three of races gives you points. The more points you get, the more cars and tracks you get to unlock.
The cars are some of the most exotic and expensive in the world. They are modeled in great detail. Having never driven one before, I can’t comment on the precision of the handling, but they feel nimble and fast.
There are four track variations, including mirrored, reversed, and mirrored-reversed. Each track consists of the main road race layout, with a few shortcuts thrown in. The shortcuts allow you to ditch the police pursuit and other racers, while gaining time and position in the race. Also, shortcuts are where you can see some of the more gorgeous environments. The tracks range from forests to Mediterranean towns to island getaways, each with their own unique flavors.The heart of the gameplay is an arcade style racer. This game is all about getting from start to finish the fastest, and avoiding being busted. Unlike racing sims, you need not worry about tire, suspension, airflow, etc. You also do not get to experience environmental interactiveness, because you are ‘railed’ in. A handy ‘R’eset key gets you back into the action if you crash up too badly. The key to racing in this game is proper cornering, which involves little more than flying at full speed into a corner, then tapping the brake at the right time before and during turning.
The computer AI is sufficient, but hardly brilliant. The opponent drivers are competent enough to finish and take some of the short-cuts. The non-racing drivers are nothing more than obstacles, sometime driving on two different sides of the road on the same track. The police drivers are there to make you wreck. If you wreck, and the cops are right there, you are busted. Race over. They do some interesting things, though, if you are a big enough criminal. There can be multiple pursuit vehicles. They’ll try to road-block you further up the track. They’ll even deploy spike strips to try and stop you. Helicopters can be called in to drop exploding canisters on you. But all are easily avoidable.
The main menu defaults to 800×600, but the driving resolution goes up to 1280×1024. There is no slow-down running at 1024×768, even with all graphical options on. The graphics are drop-dead gorgeous. The track environments are equally as beautiful, from the small boats of the Mediterranean town to the leaf covered roads of the Autumn race route. The island map has spots of volcanic activity, and around the corner, cascading waterfalls. The cars are done superbly. Each car’s detail is modeled, down to the left hand driver and shifters. There is also some damage modeling, but it is only for show and doesn’t affect driving. There are 4 camera angles ranging from dashboard to almost overhead, with a rear view mode that is key bound. If you make a good jump, or get hit by a chopper canister, the camera will do a 360 pan, giving a cinematic effect to the event.
The engines roar, the fenders crunch, and sirens blare. The smaller cars, like the Lotus Elise, have whiny engines spooling up quickly to the red-line. The throaty, V12 monsters roar to life at the slightest touch of the accelerator. The music is a mix of rock and techno, from groups such as Bush and Rush. However, there isn’t a radio button, so the mix is random.
You get to listen to the cop’s radio chatter when they are present. They will call out the car that they are chasing, call for backup or even roadblocks. This wouldn’t be too bad if it didn’t sound like Roscoe P. Coltrain in his Ford Crown Victoria was trying to collar the Duke boys while racing in the Mediterranean. Small fishing villages and ancient ruins don’t mix well with ‘County, car 54, someone just blew my doors off’. Where’s Flash at?
Not too bad for a console conversion. Don’t play this game expecting a racing sim, because you will be disappointed. The graphics are great; the music and sounds are above average, but the chatter is out of place and annoying. Hot Pursuit mode is where it’s at because that is the most fun of all the modes. Multiplayer is a treat for an arcade racing game, but doesn’t allow for ‘Be the cop’ mode.
7 out of 10