Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Review

Around the end of 2010, I was looking for a game to satisfy my need, my need for speed! Naturally, the Need for Speed series was a candidate and I've actually been a fan of the Need for Speed: Underground series as it incorporates an adventure game with arcade racing (even though I was in the minority). As most fans of the Need for Speed series know, they have now split the series into different streams. There is now the racing sim stream where they try to make the game as realistic as possible (via the Need for Speed Shift series) and then there are games like Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit which focuses on arcade racing. I don't know what's happened to the storyline-based racing games but apparently, there's something coming in November of this year that will continue that legacy (looking forward to it).

Anyhow, managed to grab this as a gift (thanks bro) and I'm finally at a stage where I can review it, so here goes :)

Sound (3/5)
There is some good audio in this game. Cars sound reasonably authentic in terms of engine noise and squealing tyres, and then there's also the sound of choppers flying overhead and sirens wailing when you're playing as a cop. You also get pretty authentic sounding radio chatter from the police radio when playing which I reckon is one of the nice little touches that they do well in the Need for Speed series.

Music (3/5)
To be honest, I didn't notice the music that much, even though as usual they've managed to get some licensed music from well-known artists. I know 30 Seconds to Mars does the title track and it's suitable for the game but you rarely ever hear the licensed music while doing missions in the game. I suspect you'll hear it most during free ride mode but more on that aspect of the game later.

Graphics (4/5)
The graphics are quite nice in this game and all the cars are faithfully recreated. The lighting, smoke effects and scenery are all exceptionally done and I would've given the graphics a perfect score if it weren't for some occasional frame rate drops for some reason.

Plot (3/5)
I was a bit disappointed that there was no plot this time around. If you're a fan of the Underground, Most Wanted, Caron, Undercover games, you're not going to find an adventure to go through here. This game just focuses on arcade racing.

The game takes place in Seacrest County and allows you to play as both sides of the law, either as a racer or the County's well funded police department (which can afford Bugatti Veyrons). You basically complete missions to get more points which unlock promotions, new cars and new missions.

Gameplay (4/5)
Even though there wasn't much plot to this game, I actually still found the gameplay pretty enjoyable. I've heard very good things about Criterion Games, especially their game Burnout Paradise, but this is actually the first game I've ever played of theirs. It turns out the game is really easy to get into and heaps of fun.

As mentioned the game allows you to play as a racer or a cop. Playing as a racer pretty much involves winning races and playing as a cop involves busting criminals. Success in these missions (which are assessed on a Gold-Silver-Bronze or Distinction-Credit-Pass scale, depending on which side of the law you are) will give you points which results in new cars and new missions being unlocked.

Yes you read right, you unlock cars not buy them. I suppose this could be considered one downside in that you cannot choose what vehicles you're going to get. This may irk some players but the decision was probably made not to have cash in the interests of streamlining gameplay.

You get a large choice of licensed cars which is nice, but customisation is limited to basic colours playing as a racer and there's no customisation at all playing. Also there are very little stats on how the vehicles perform in terms of the game which is surprising considering this is an arcade racer (although you do have the top speed and acceleration stats at least).

Replayability (3/5)
You get the usual option of playing some multiplayer games and Criterion Games have implemented their own cut-down Facebook clone where you can post on the Wall of other players and post screenshots. You can also check out the best time of your mates and attempt to beat them but besides what I've just mentioned, there's nothing ground-breaking here in terms of replayability and the fact that the single player will pretty much pan out the same however you play it, means there's not much point playing it again except for getting a higher score (so we're talking about old school replayability here).

The game is thankfully a very well polished game. I didn't encounter any bugs although I was a bit peeved that when reinstalling the game after a reformat, that all my single player progress was gone (seems like the single player campaign is saved on your hard disk but the rest is saved online). Also the game has a very consoley feel about it with respect to the controls but you can actually change them if you're so inclined.

Overall - 8/10
This is no Need for Speed: Underground, Carbon or Most Wanted, but that might be a good thing for those wanting a refreshing, back-to-basics arcade racer.

If you want to get the game, you can get it off Steam.