Cop or Racer. What side are you on?
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, Windows, iPhone
Release Date: November 16, 2010
Players: 1 (up to 8 in Multiplayer)
Racing games are one of those genres that greatly depend on the tastes of the audience. Some people prefer pure simulation racers, which stick to reality, while others fancy arcade-driven racers, which sacrifice some of that realism for a frantic driving experience. Need for Speed Hot Pursuit appeals to the maniac racer in all of us by capturing the conflict that lies between both sides of the illegal street racing scene – The racers who strive to be the best on the road, and the members of law enforcement determined to take them down.
Players can choose between playing as a racer and police officer, and dive immediately into a hub to choose from a wide variety of missions. As you win races and capture wanted criminals, your respective level as an officer or criminal will rise. As you gain levels, you’ll periodically unlock new cars, and weapons to help you in your goal to be a notorious street racer, or the top cop.
How well you perform in a mission is measured up and awarded to you with bounty. As you acquire more bounty, your rank as an officer or racer will increase, which will in turn reward you with new cars, better tools like larger spike strips and so on. By performing well in each race, you’ll be showered in new additions to your arsenal like candy pouring from a piñata.
The sole purpose of playing as a racer is to cross the finish line, and to do it while making as little mistakes as possible. The best way to get into first place (and maintain it) requires a mix of understanding the terrain very well, and plain ‘good driving. There are numerous shortcuts in many of the tracks, but they’re often hard to find in the heat of a race. For example, instead of rushing through a tight hairpin turn, you could blow through a shortcut and put yourself a couple seconds ahead of your opponents. Diligent driving is rewarded instantly, but making a mistake often results in a crash, that will more than likely put you in last place.
Playing as a police officer is a totally different experience. In addition to driving well, players also have to fulfill their main objective which usually involves putting a stop to street races. Aiding them in this are a number of tools, such as being able to call for roadblocks, firing off an Electromagnetic Pulse, or even bringing in a helicopter to harass an opponent. While driving at breakneck speeds, you have to get the job done by any means necessary. One mission type, called Hot Pursuit, pits you against a slew of racers that you have to stop one after another in the middle of a race. Singlehandedly stopping five or so other cars with your “bag of tricks” is very aggressive, yet visceral.
While online multiplayer is a given, my main gripe is that the option for local multiplayer- playing against someone next to you, is completely absent. This unfortunately eliminates the possibility for this game to be played in a social setting, which is a real let down.
If you ever wanted to brag about your exploits on the road, your progress is tracked by the Autolog, which is a mixture of an interactive leader board and social network for other people on your buddy list who also own the game. Here, players are constantly updated when a friend beats their best time in the same race, or escapes the police more efficiently. Autolog fosters an ongoing rivalry between dedicated players, and will keep the wheels spinning long after the career mode has been completed.
Need for Speed Hot Pursuit is deceptively simple. Because the focus is completely on what you experience behind the wheel, there are no distractions to take away from driving. While we never will be able to realize our fantasy of speeding down a highway going 140 miles an hour evading the law, or enforcing it ourselves, this is an excellent break from reality; a great racing game that never fails to disappoint.