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Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Review

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit pack shot
Developer:Criterion Games
Publisher:Electronic Arts
Platform:Playstation 3
Official Site:http://hotpursuit.needforspeed.com/
Release Date:November 19th, 2010 (UK)
Reviewer:Andy Hemphill (Bandit)
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Need for Speed purists might be a little put off by Hot Pursuit's similarities to the Burnout series of racers. Yes, the game was put together in a dingy garage by Criterion Studios - the team behind Burnout: Paradise's brilliance, but the similarities to the series - and the dumbing down of NFS's seminal car tinkering - might put off long-time fans.

On the other hand, if you're in the mood for some high-speed, car wrecking, high adrenaline action, look no further.

First off, if you like Burnout, you'll love this. Hot Pursuit is so similar to the series that seasoned burners will have little trouble slipping behind the wheel. Thankfully, for those new to the world of illegal racing the controls are easy to pick up and play, and the action keeps you coming back for more.

The core of the game is the interplay between the illegal street racers and the cops out to stop them. The career mode allows the gamer to set out as a dodgy boy racer, or a hard-bitten cop, and build your stats through the myriad race circuits (or 'roads' as the cops know them) of the fictional Seacrest County.

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It's an open world and features over 100 miles of open road - four times larger than that of Burnout Paradise - and is a pleasing mix of industrial wastes, beautiful, sun-kissed beaches and dirty backwaters.

Cruising around looking for an online race is fun in itself, and starting up a session is as simple as cruising up to some traffic lights and hitting 'go'. If, on the other hand, you'd rather get some offline practice in to boost your stats, the AI is clever enough (and often downright sneaky) to cause you some serious trouble.

Races are a fun affair of high-octane engines and dangerous driving, which see a team of racing nutters squaring off against the cops - who have cars equally as fast as the racers, but covered in 'Police', rather than a nice coat of berry red.

The cars come in a wide variety, from Porsches to Ferraris to a Bugatti Veyron, and all handle like you would dream they would - unlike the reality of driving a supercar, which is somewhere between a steerable missile and riding a jet-powered shopping trolley down a hill.

Hot Pursuits' monsters all drift at the touch of a brake pedal, and can handle quite the few knocks before ripping themselves to shreds.

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The 'takedown' style of play familiar to Burnout fans is prevalent in Hot Pursuit, and cops and racers alike will find themselves jostling for position at every opportunity, ramming fellow racers and cops alike into oncoming traffic, other racers, or that handy low wall.

Added to the sheer ballistic force of your car are a set of neat little powerups - for the cops, a helicopter which can clear traffic, roadblocks which trip up unwary drivers, an EMP device which is an instant kill, and a boost which makes everything into a blur.

Racers get similar powerups, and can keep the incredible refilling nitro topped up by driving like an idiot, facing oncoming traffic, tailgating and generally smashing things up. Cops can do the same simply by driving fast - this interplay of powerups, ridiculous speeds and takedowns keeps the action fast and furious, and players are sure to keep coming back for more as you unlock more cars and better powerups.

Of the three race modes available, there is more than enough variety to keep things fresh. Interceptor pits one cop against one crook, Hot Pursuit is a four vs four deathmatch of racing, and your basic online race pits eight racers against each other, with less focus on the cops chasing after you.

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The online matchmaking is simple and effective, and finding a game takes mere moments. There's also a system which ties in your growing 'bounty' (upgrade points) and will post the figure on Facebook, allowing you to leave an insulting remark on your friends' profiles after your roadblock takes them all out in one go, though the lack of traditional online leaderboards might infuriate the more aggressive online drivers out there.

Graphically the game is pretty damn stunning. The environments look great and even at the blistering speed the cars go at, the lighting effects give the cars great allure.

The takedown camera, which slows the action to a crawl when you slam an offending criminal into an oncoming truck, is a bit of a pain, however.

While it's cool watching a car rip itself to shreds in slow-mo, the camera often returns you to your motor seconds before you hit an oncoming HGV - this gets infuriating quickly.

The game similarly sounds great. All the cars have a throaty purr, and the soundtrack is brilliant, with a great mix of rock and trance tunes that offset the blistering pace of the action nicely.


All in all, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, is a thoroughly fun racer which will please most gamers, but might leave the NFS purist slightly put out. Though the game has immense replay value, and is a heck of a lot of fun, the occasionally dodgy camera and lack of any leaderboards or car tweaking somewhat lightens the experience - but even this is not enough to scupper the simple fun of pelting down a freeway, chased by screaming sirens.

The bottom line
8.5 / 10

Good stuff

  • Great racing action
  • Addictive 'takedown' gameplay
  • Looks and sounds brilliant

Not so good stuff

  • Lack of car tweaking
  • 'Takedown' camera is a pain sometimes

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