Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
By giving two games an identical name, EA didn’t make our lives easier. Previously the Medal of Honor reboot got the same name as its predecessor and now Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit makes our database sweat. The cat and mouse game between racers and cops is again present in this game and introduces next to that some interesting features like Autolog. Let’s see whether Need for Speed is back on track.
The qualitatively lesser racers of the past year have shown that the Need for Speed franchise is having an identity crisis. The series had made several turns already like episodes with and without story, episodes where you went undercover or where you had to stay out of the way of the law. A bit of tuning, a sidestep towards competitive racing with Shift, or a dead end with the MMO racer from Black Box. Innovation can be a poisoned gift with lots of risk, but this comes with the trade. Luckily EA knows how they have to deal with their franchises and for the “reboot” of Need for Speed they’ve unleashed the guys from Criterion on the game. And the result shows as Hot Pursuit plays extremely well.
In the career mode you play half the time as racer, and the other half as cop. In the first part you get simple races or time trials, but also some more spicy duels and escapes that you need to bring to a good end. As cop you get to take on a totally different hobby, taking down speed devils by getting them off the road. And if there’s one thing Criterion is good at, it’s spectacular crashes. Expect squeeking metal and parts flying around. The driving itself hasn’t changed that much.
As we’re used from Need for Speed (Shift not included) this is again an arcade racer. You don’t have to brake pumping or follow the right line like in GT5 or Forza. Taking a hard turn at 120km/h is perfectly possible, if you’ve practised a bit and have decent timing. I can understand that many feel this way of racing is too forgiving, but the driving itself is difficult enough by an external factor.
That external factor comes in the form of “weapons” with which you can take down opponents. The system is similar to that from Blur, but instead of “picking them up” you have some “legal advantages” from the start. You can lay down spike traps to damage pursuing cars, or blast an EMP towards the one in front of you, making him oncontrollable for a short while. As cop you’ve got some bigger stuff at your disposal. You can call in a blockade or request a helicopter to deal with the cars in front of you. A nice addition to the franchise but I’m not 100% convinced that stuff like this belongs here.
The best addition is Autolog. This is a system that tracks the stats of all players. As such nothing special, but Autolog comes back everywhere in the game. Due to the stats popping up all around the urge to do better is enormous and you want to do nothing more than shatter the precious records of your friends. On top of that, Autolog automatically sends a message to your friends once you’ve pulverised one of their records.
Next to the very entertaining singleplayer Hot Pursuit also has a very extensive and robust multiplayer. Everyone knows that racing against human opponents lets your blood pump faster than against artificial ones and especially the mode where four cops try to catch four racers is fantastic.
Criterion clearly saved the franchise from sudden death with Hot Pursuit. The game really comes close to the old glory days. The singleplayer is very varied and extensive and offers enough opposition to keep you busy for a few hours. Next to that the Autolog feature gets you in a competitive mode and the enjoyable multiplayer prolongs the replay value considerably. Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit is a must-have.