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Submitted by Gwynne Dixon on November 16 2010 - 16:05

Criterion re-inserts itself into the arcade racing genre with a modern re-imagining of an EA classic...

The Need For Speed series has had an enduring relationship with police chases over the years. Even throughout its on/off love affair with souped-up boy-racer mobiles, the series has remained a leading guardian of cop chase gaming in the long wake of Chase HQ's enduring legacy. As the title would suggest then, Criterion's Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit reunites the series' original and most dearly remembered lovers: exotic supercars and equally ludicrous police vehicles chasing them. With the focus resting on cops vs. racers and the weaponisation of both sides, Criterion has brought the game into close alignment with its 90s namesake but, from here, the similarities end.

Hot Pursuit actually has much more in common with the game that made Criterion's name: Burnout. Most of the major gameplay dynamics, from how you build up nitrous boost to performing 'Takedowns' of opposing vehicles and avoiding streams of oncoming traffic, have been lifted directly from the series, so much so that you could almost call the game Burnout: Hot Pursuit. Somewhere, somebody in EA's marketing department is having an aneurysm, but none of this brand alignment business really matters to us - essence of classic Need For Speed infused with fillet of Burnout sounds lip-smackingly appealing regardless of how you serve it up.

And, for the most part, it delivers - ironically enough it's the Hot Pursuit styling that shines and the Burnout features that seem to flounder. Hot Pursuit splits its single-player career and the online multiplayer between 'Cop' and 'Racer' components, meaning that you'll play on one side or the other depending on the event you chose. As the game progresses, you'll then rack up separate driver profiles for either side of the law. The 'Cop' side is engaging throughout thanks mostly to some solidly designed modes and race types that complement the game's central concept of busting the bad guys/evading the fuzz well. In fact, Hot Pursuit easily trumps the likes of Pursuit Force to place itself as the best game of recent times to have you chasing down bad guys while driving increasingly elaborate police cars. But, for all the solidity of Hot Pursuit's 'Cop' component, it's the 'Racer' events that really let the game down.

On either side of the law, race modes are very much the standard Criterion fare. Time-trial themed events are interspersed with various types of competitive races against other drivers, while Criterion also makes a welcome return to linear tracks as opposed to the open-world fraternizing of Burnout Paradise. Of all the various game types, it's the 'Hot Pursuit' races - where a fleet of police cars chase a gang of unruly speedsters - that undeniably steal the show. It's basically the equivalent of what would happen if the Gumball Rally's sharp end were to meet head-on with the most well funded policing force in human history, albeit with EMP weapons and spike strips thrown in for good measure. Whether playing as a cop or a racer, these 'Hot Pursuits' shine both on and offline - we could almost play a whole game of this single mode to be perfectly honest.

Criterion also dishes out 'Interceptor' or 'Gauntlet' events (depending on whether you're a cop or racer), which basically play out the same way as 'Hot Pursuits' only with a solitary cop car chasing down a single racer. One nifty touch in the 'Interceptor' events is that Criterion opens up its linear tracks a bit with crossroads that offer four separate routes - AI racers then do a good job of duping you at the crossroads or doubling back with a swift u-turn, making your chase-down that little bit harder to execute. The standard way to take out racers is by T-boning them with your cop car, like a 'Takedown' in the Burnout games, although an impressive arsenal of weaponry offers plenty of alternative options as well. On the cop side of the action, spike strips send racers spinning out of control, EMP weapons stun them a bit and disable their weapons, road blocks do precisely what you'd expect really, and police helicopters can fly out in front of the leading pack and drop a spike strip in front of them.

To counter this, racers then have their own EMP weapons, the ability to 'Jam' incoming EMP strikes, a turbo for added boost, and spike strips as well. Each weapon works on a recharge limit, so you have to wait for an allotted time after using them before they can be dispensed again. There are a few issues with the balancing of these weapons though, particularly in the online game modes. EMPs, for example, can be easily avoided by simply slamming on the brakes and dropping in behind your attacker - this is particularly grating as EMPs really need to be used at close range to be effective. Another slightly confusing piece of design comes with the police helicopters, which are the most valuable of your weapons on the cop side due to their scarcity but actually aren't that effective in practice. Even if the choppers do hit their mark, which often isn't the case, a solitary spike strip is perhaps a slightly weak pay-off when the racers have a hearty turbo boast as their alternative.

Nonetheless, each weapon levels-up through a number of tiers as you progress in the career, with bigger cop cars in the road blocks and police helicopters that can track racers through tunnels as examples of upgraded features. Throughout all of this the spike strips and road blocks are the stars of the bunch really and, for this reason among a few others, driving as a cop does hold much of the appeal during gameplay. Whatever the case, NFS: Hot Pursuit is certainly at its best when cops and weapons are involved but, surprisingly, this isn't always the case throughout the game. During much of the 'Racer' side of the career and in one of the main online modes, all the action is stripped down to racers without any weapons at all and no cops in sight whatsoever.

It's a confusing decision by Criterion because it leaves an unseasoned taste throughout a large portion of the experience. The studio relies a bit too heavily on some of its old Burnout tricks to pull you through these race types as well, with the emphasis put on drifting and driving into oncoming traffic to build-up boost. However, without some of the heart-pounding sense of speed in the Burnout games and the skillfully choreographed set-pieces, Hot Pursuit's rendition isn't quite all there. More troubling is the fact that there's little point trying to take out opponent cars during these races (in fact, the loading screens advise you against it) as persistent barging won't result in any 'Takedowns' or added boost. Some decently designed shortcuts do add to the experience and, as you'd expect, the format has been borrowed from Burnout here. Once again though, the lack of hair-raising jumps or minimal margins for error seen in Burnout's shortcuts make Hot Pursuit's feel a bit plain in comparison.
 
This somewhat unsatisfying feel to the 'Racer' side of the action continues into the time-trials, with the similarities to Burnout effectively not delivering on initial promises due to a lack of subtle design touches. However, the 'Cop' time-trials do add something a little fresh to the experience, mainly due to time penalties that are incurred whenever you hit a civilian vehicle or crash into barriers on the track. This puts an added impetus on precise driving techniques and ups the ante a little as a result. Throughout all of these various events though, Criterion's ability to set various scoring ranks for each event is once again unrivalled. Gold, Silver, and Bronze ranks (or Distinction, Merit, and Pass for cops) are dished out depending on your performance in each event and, as with the Burnout games, the Gold rank is always enough in reach to make you play again but always just far enough away to be infuriatingly difficult to achieve.

If it's these Gold ranks that you're after for all the events in Hot Pursuit's campaign, then you'll be beavering away for 15 hours at the very least - as always, Criterion has produced a driving game that's very well stocked. A superbly integrated 'Autolog' hub for the online portion of the game then puts added bragging rights to these high scores, with lists that allow you to compare friends' scores and a 'Wall' where you can post news about scores that you've just beaten. As with the 'Freeburn' mode in Burnout Paradise, Criterion is once again leading the way in how it seamlessly links the single and multiplayer offerings through an all-pervasive online network.

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  • Graphics: 88%
     
  • Sound: 91%
     
  • Gameplay: 84%
     
  • Originality: 77%
     
  • Longevity: 84%
     
Overall Score: 8/10
While Criterion appears to rest on its laurels throughout much of the 'Racer' side of Hot Pursuit's gameplay, effectively producing a quite bland recreation of Burnout in the process, ultimately it's the 'Cop' side of the action that saves the day. From that perspective, Hot Pursuit proves itself worthy of the name with some of the best cop chase gaming of recent times.

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By: Anonymous

Added:Fri 12th Oct 2012 16:24, Post No: 23

how do you reset your game on the xbox version


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By: Anonymous

Added:Sat 29th Jan 2011 16:58, Post No: 22

nfs on wii is bull [#@!?]


User avatar
By: Anonymous

Added:Fri 28th Jan 2011 16:36, Post No: 21

trade at cex which probably gives the best trade price for none dlc (online code used in other words) cash will get you £16 and trade will get you £21, GT5 will get you cash £28 and trade £30 now you can clearly see what this retarded 1 use only code is doing to the games resale value.


User avatar
By: Anonymous

Added:Fri 28th Jan 2011 16:29, Post No: 20

lol sales for any EA online functionality title will eventually slow to a crawl unless they remove the retarded online code crap, why should anyone have to pay to play online, rental services like blockbuster and love film must have already noticed the drop in people wanting to rent games by EA as to play online now requires that stupid 1 off payment per game let alone the resale value of such games will also dent sales as anyone who plays games and then trade for newer games will bother to either play it online or not buy it at all and only diehards will use the code knowing when they do the instantly lose £10 off the trade price.


By: freeradical

Added:Fri 28th Jan 2011 10:10, Post No: 19

Why would they want to stop selling it? Presumably they'll only stop when the sales numbers die down and it becomes unprofitable to ship any more units, and that could be a while to be honest...


User avatar
By: Anonymous

Added:Thu 27th Jan 2011 02:23, Post No: 18

when wil they stop selling the game (need for pseed hot persuit)?


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By: Anonymous

Added:Tue 04th Jan 2011 22:27, Post No: 17

no just face it GT5 was crap but your in denial and yes it was really over hyped.


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By: Anonymous

Added:Tue 04th Jan 2011 21:31, Post No: 16

gt5 was not horrible, it was a good game, but really overhyped.


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By: Anonymous

Added:Tue 04th Jan 2011 18:53, Post No: 15

lol if your seriously saying GT is going multiplat just sit back and think about it for a while, GT5 sucks and was over hyped, FF13 was "let down by the 360 being on DVD the game was reduced in size, lol yet another ps3 fanboy excuse", you must be seriously demented if you think GT can recover from just how crap GT5 is let me put it to you a bit clearer.

 

GT6 will need to have actual 1080p graphics not upscaled 1080p "1280x1080" is not true 1080p, it will need shadows to be smooth and not have low res jaggid edges that look so pathetic, in car views on EVERY CAR and PREMIUM CARS ONLY, how the hell did anyone think the game was so good that even the bugatti veyron would end up as a standard car when it should have been a PREMIUM CAR.

 

the menu system needs sorting out that you can freely move the cursor around the sreen directly to what you want rather than the crap system in GT5, online is pi** poor and takes ages to find online games you actually feel you can have a fair race also it needs dedicated servers as lag between areas in the world is just pathetic (i have a fast broadband connection yet i was still getting lagged by the host having a poor connection).

 

back to the cars GT6 should get rid of the ridiculous amount of japanese cars (even in the online car store in the GT5 update, the majority of cars are japanese and there almost all the same model with a small variation its pathetic), there are just as mony european and american car models in the world yet were subjected to hundreds of boring japanese cars like the demio or the prius not to mention the stupid number of civics, skylines, RX-7's ect, there just there to boost the car numbers up so they could boast about having over a thousand cars, at least 65% of the cars in GT5 are japanese though that number is probably higher.

 

overall if GT6 is going to beat anything they need to seriously get ther prioritys correct first like less japanese cars and better graphics plus while im at it better course designs and better phisics, MORE REALISTIC PHYSICS, if anything GT6 had better up there game cause its now up against Forza 4 which Forza 3 already caught up with GT4's physics and its as good as GT5 so where does that leave you GT/ps3 fanboys (in a panic lol).


User avatar
By: Anonymous

Added:Tue 04th Jan 2011 09:47, Post No: 14

GT6 is likely to fix GT5 flaws, at wich point NFS Hot pursuit doesn't have a chance. Especially if a Wii release is in the mix for the next GT game.


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