Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2
Everybody likes fast and exclusive cars, no question about it. Even if you don’t know a thing about what goes on under the hood (or: the bonnet) of a car, the sight of a Ferrari, a Porsche or a cute Lotus makes us turn our head. And girls, be honest now, a fast and expensive car makes an ordinary male (like Speed, for instance) a bit more attractive ;-).
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 is all about that: fast, expensive, exclusive and most importantly: beautiful cars. EA Games have done their best to bring the most expensive and exclusive cars to your pc by acquiring licences to use the real names, logo’s and appearances of the worlds most exclusive cars. And they did a good job ! The most ‘normal’ car of the pack is the Opel Speedster, a car more or less within everybodies reach… but the real fun starts with the Ferraris, the Lamborghinis, the Porsches and the McLarens…
Now, before you read any further, it’s very important to realise that Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 is an arcade racer and not a simulator !!! While searching for a solution to a problem that I was experiencing (more on that later on), I read that some demo-players were dissapointed because of the ‘lack of realism’ of NFS: HP2. I completely disagree with this: the game is unrealistic on a gameplay level, but it never intented to be realistic on that level. The game is hyper-realistic as far as the cars are concerned, they look incredibly amazing !!!
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 has different modes for your gaming pleasure :-). You can drive a simple race competing with other cars, including oncoming traffic and cops chasing you. But you can also compete in the Championship to earn medals and money to unlock even more cars and tracks/maps. The AI of the computer-run cars in the Championship gets more intelligent the further you get. A nice feature is that you can also play as a cop, where you have to give chase to other reckless drivers :-).
This takes us to the gameplay. First of all, driving the cars in this game is pure fun !!! No more, no less… pure fun ! I love racing games and I guess I’ve played a few, but no other game gave me this good a feeling… the feeling of real speeeeeed. And there seems to be a general consensus on that – at least, that’s what I read on the forums… everybody likes the genuine ‘fastness’ of the cars.
Another point is less positive. Because NFS: HP2 is an arcade game, the cars don’t really get damaged when they crash. That’s not necessarily bad, but what bothers me is what is referred to as “the invisible wall”. When you drive too fast and get into a spin, you crash into an invisible wall which keeps you from ending up in the sea. That’s irritating. It would be better to let the car take the dip and then automaticaly reset the car in the middle of the road.
The game can be played with a steeringwheel, but you will encounter problems with Force Feedback wheels untill you install the latest patch. I tried it, it’s fun, but a keyboard gives you an edge.
As I’ve said, the cars look deliciously amazing and that is thanks to dynamic lighting and real world reflections on the car itself. As for the rest of the graphics they are very satisfying, not state-of-the-art, but more than enough for a racing game. The developers have done their best to recreate some real-life environments to drive in with sun, waterfalls and even lava.
Another fantastic (yes I know, but the game is really good !) feature is the soundtrack filled with well-known contemporary tracks. And if you look around a bit on the forums, you’ll learn on how to add your own ;-). The rest of the sounds add to the fun of the game. Roaring engines, screaming tyres, angry fellow competitors honking … the only thing missing is the smell of burning rubber … but I guess that’s only a question of time
Furthermore, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 can be played online. You’ll have to have a fast enough broadband connection and a decent server though, because you can easily experience some packetloss (it’s when your car suddenly seems te ‘leap’ a couple of meters/yards backwards). But on LAN parties this game is one of the funniest and exciting to play. It feels great to throw a handful of M&M’s to the player sitting on the other site of the hall, because he deliberatly bumped you into a wall Good laughs !
So, in conclusion: NFS: HP2 is the arcade racer with the highest ‘fun-factor’ out there. Great cars, very cool songs, fun gameplay. Go buy it.