Need for Speed : Hot Pursuit, is a remake of the earlier game of the same name, redone for 2010 with Facebook-like features built in, and very, very shiny graphics.
However, it’s also a blatant console port (no anti-aliasing options make it look quite jagged in places), the controls are clearly designed for game pads (trying to use the default keys on pc is a hilariously ridiculous experience that seems to require 3, if not 4 hands to use), and it’s far too short for what it claims to be. There are 20 ‘ranks’ of police or racer which you can earn from your missions, but even finishing all of them with the highest scores possible only gets you about halfway or so, so to unlock all the cars , you basically have to play it online, or endlessly repeat the same missions over and over, trying to beat your times or scores.
Note that I said missions, not races. This is not really a racing game; rather a game of missions with cars. Sure there’s some racing, the occasional need for reactions of a 12 year old, and the odd turn here and there, but there’s no way to upgrade, customise or change your cars in any way, which is quite a break from previous Need for Speed game. Missions themselves are only split into two types – get from A to B insanely quickly, or beat/arrest other drivers before the finish line. Your only real choice between missions is the car to drive – but that’s quite difficult since, while the game provides a huge narrated spiel about each car, it doesn’t actually show you in any meaningful way the difference between them.
How the hell do I know which car to pick, when the top speed, power and acceleration of FOUR of them are exactly the same !? That might be true to life, but this is supposed to be a game. It’s pointless giving me a choice of things that appear to be the same. For extra hilarity, some of them are even listed as ‘classified’ , so you can’t even use those values to judge them.
On the plus side, the missions are fairly interesting and fun to do, but they have some of the most bizarre logic choices I’ve ever seen in a game. Why for example, if I have called in a roadblock of heavy SUVs all ready to stop some criminals in their tracks, do they let cars pass through entirely if any other event (crashing, or any other car being taken out etc.) happens within ten seconds of it ? It’s a ridiculous way to do things, and I can’t decide if it’s lazy coding or just plain bonkers to think that players want to be yanked from the action to what’s basically a short unskippable cut-scene, every time something minor happens.
Similarly, while you can call in roadblocks and helicopter support, they almost always ignore the shortcut routes that the game encourages you and your opponents to use, blocking off the tiny part of the main road and ignoring the massive gap to the side that the other cars instead use. And don’t even get me started on that bloody ‘support’ helicopter. The number of times the stupid damn thing dropped a spike trap right in front of the police it’s supposed to be supporting (ie, me) because I’m driving on the main road but the racers are off on a shortcut. I wish the game had surface-to-air missiles so I could shoot the flipping thing down.
I really want to like this game. It is very pretty in places and the ability to play as the police is refreshing, despite the fact that none of their cars can accelerate very well, or you know, turn. The missions are mostly fun to do, but it feels like they forgot to include half the game in here somewhere. One minute you are chasing a few guys in low end sports cars; the next there’s the world’s top supercar outracing you, and not a lot of time passed in between. While you do get points for the way each mission was completed, even this doesn’t make sense. Surely, as a police officer, I should be getting awarded more for ending a pursuit in 30 seconds when you expected it to take 4 minutes, but the game disregards this completely, and gives you fewer points because you spent less time doing driving manoeuvres or taking shortcuts around. Again, a thoroughly bizarre decision in how to implement things.
Criterion Games are clearly capable of coding decent games – I’ve come across no bugs outside of the insane logic that is everywhere, and even on my ageing pc the game runs fairly well and looks good – but this one is missing a lot of the elements that could have taken it from decent game into must-have for Christmas game.
Sure, there’s a myriad of ‘social’ options, and each mission has a scoreboard that you can compete against your friends with, but unless you are going to play this game with several friends, you can’t unlock the best cars to use in them anyway. The in-mission gadgets are a nice touch; spike strips in particular are satisfying to use on people, and it is fairly fun to play, but there’s little replayability once you’ve done a mission, and not enough here to keep you interested for very long – certainly not long enough to justify the current price tag on Amazon for it.
Oh, and EA, I’m knocking points off for forcing me to watch a long advert for another racing game before I could even start to play it, and then another one every time it loads.