Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit User Review
Overall, I liked the demo, but I'm a bit concerned that the game may be sparse in terms of gameplay. Let me put my cards on the table at the start, I'm a huge fan of Burnout Paradise by Criterion, but I've not played Need For Speed titles very much, they have never really been my thing.
After downloading the behemoth demo file (all 1.5GB), I installed it and started it up. I've been looking forward to this game because it's being created by the team behind Burnout Paradise. Burnout Paradise set the bench mark in so many ways, not least of which was the 60 frames per second silky smooth graphics.
NFS:HP is not 60 frames per second, so how does it look? It looks OK. It doesn't feel as polished as Burnout Paradise, and I think that this may be down to the framerate. The graphics feel somehow less rich, less substantive. I can only put this down to the framerate because in terms of the car models and environment, there's no reason for it to look or feel less solid than their previous game.
Those familiar with Burnout Paradise will sense other similarities, whether it's the background music in the menus, the voice over that introduces the game or the setting in Seacrest county. the game map has a familiar look and feel to it as well. I hate to keep mentioning Burnout Paradise, but that was Criterion's last game, and it was a racer, so comparisons are natural. I'll try to avoid them though.
Here we have a racing game with crashes that you can play solo and online. Online features up to 8 players (sound familiar?) in head to head racing action. The game itself is point to point races, you're either a Racer or a Cop.
As a Racer you race a course against others using some of the finest sports cars ever created. The first to the line wins, there are short cuts to find, and you can drift around corners, use boost and your driving skills to win. You can use your car to knock out your opponents, but crashes and damage cost you so much time, it's not necessarily worth it.
As a Cop, you chase the racers down, you can use various weapons, such as a spike strip or EMP to slow down and damage the racers, you can call in a helicopter or roadblock to slow them down, or you can simply ram them off the road. If you stop them all before the finish, you 'win'.
I enjoyed playing the Cop more than the Racer simply because there is more to do. I found I was picking the tank like Crown Victoria Police Interceptor instead of the 370Z police car. The larger car keeps up OK (at least in the demo event) and you can use it as weapon, much like Road Rage events where you try to take down as many opposing cars as possible. There is something oddly fun about being a traffic cop nailing suspects...
For those being chased, this will play very like the Marked Man events where you had to outrun the hunters to the finish line.
The game is fun, and worth playing, but the demo left me wanting something more. I found that the environments were graphically cluttered and lack clarity which makes using shortcuts difficult because you actually have a hard time picking them out. It reminds me of MotorStorm Pacific Rift in that regard. The roads themselves are OK, but you feel very railed in, there doesn't feel like there is much freedom, despite the inclusion of shortcuts.
One of the things about Criterion's previous racer was that there was a loving attention to detail that combined with the 60 frames per second visuals resulted in a nearly artistic treat. The NFS Hot Pursuit Demo, doesn't generate that same feeling. It actually feels like more of an arcade game. Perhaps that's a good thing? Perhaps that's the way that NFS games are supposed to feel?
Someone on my friends list has a comment on their avatar that goes NFS:HP is not The Next Burnout. and I think that's a fair thing to say. It's not. I don't think you can fairly compare NFS:HP against Burnout Paradise, the two are trying to be different kinds of game. The trouble is that a lot of people are going to compare the two, and Need For Speed Hot Pursuit isn't going to fare well in that comparison. In it's own right though, it appears to be a pretty good game.
It's a demo, so please take the scores in that context, the full game could be a point or two higher...
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.