Review: Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2
Posted 18 Jan 2003 at 06:17 by Andy
The Need for Speed series has delivered exciting racing action for many years now although Hot Pursuit is the first to appear on the GameCube console. What always stood out about this collection of games was the ability to drive some of the top sports cars at incredible speeds through everyday environments such as towns and villages whilst completely ignoring the standard racetrack. Lamborghini, Ferrari and.. er Ford are some of the many top makes of cars you can slide behind the wheel of for some heart pounding action. It's not the only contender anymore though with some tough competition around and racing fans still applauding the excellent Burnout, which has a sequel in the works. Graphics:
Visually Hot Pursuit is a real mixed bag. One the plus side we have the various cars, which have been modeled with incredible care and attention to detail. Absolutely every make available is a near perfect representation of its 'real' cousin. The tracks however are not as pleasing and some of the environments appear blurred as you're racing around them. It's not a huge criticism but the initial FMV intro and car models lead you to believe that these high standards will be maintained. This gets a little worse when you look at the much publicised frame rate, which like the blurred textures doesn't render the game unplayable, but when compared with Acclaim's Burnout it simply doesn't deliver.
The first thing that was very apparent to me was that EA have given considerable thought to how your car reacts to different terrains and the audio is suitably different whether you're off road, on wood or a steady tarmac surface. The actual in-game car sounds such as engines whirring and tires screeching do their job well enough although the real highlights, thanks in part to EA's Trax music library, are the various soundtracks you can race to. There really should be something for everyone from drum and Bass and Rock to more soothing ambient music.
Hot Pursuit initially offers you three main options - race, chase or chaser. I'll explain a little more about this later but what you have here is a competent arcade racer with heaps of tracks and options. Your first task is to choose your car and, as this is one of those titles where new features are unlocked as a result of success, the initial selection is quite limited. Most gamers should hare off to the 'race' section of the game, which allows you to choose the type of challenge you wish to enter without the cops chasing you. As you'd expect you can either go the single race or Championship route although I'd urge you to get into the Championship Mode, as it's huge and very time consuming. This is mostly to do with the fact that races usually clock in at around three laps of a sizable course and that's even when you locate the shortcuts.
The 'chase' option adds a little more stress to your racing because you not only have to try and finish but you also have the cops on your tail. Lots of cops and they're perhaps a little more intelligent than you're used to. The problem with the law in Hot Pursuit is that they have some major equipment to bring you to a halt and they utilise spike strips, roadblocks and even helicopters in the name of safer roads. You can get your own back however as the 'chaser' option allows you to actually become a cop. This entails you catching as many rogue drivers as you can in a single shift and really is quite difficult so it's a good idea to spend some time getting to know the tracks before you even attempt this option.
One nice feature in both the Hot Pursuit and Championship Mode is the fact that your path can be chosen by selecting from a 'tree' of challenges giving some flexibility as to the type of race you actually enter. This in turn will reward you with very different bonuses and you can play the remaining tracks at a later date. If all that isn't enough I haven't even mentioned the multi-player (which speaks for itself really) and the ability to pretty much design a Tournament to satisfy your own personal requirements. Saving and loading has been made particularly painless with the save option a few simple clicks and the load actually being done automatically when you start up your GameCube.
With more options than you can possibly comprehend in a single sitting and a fine balance between arcade racer and simulation, Hot Pursuit undoubtedly has enough on offer to satisfy almost every gamers needs. Need for Speed is also incredibly easy to 'pick-up and play' whilst gamers who are prepared to spend some time with it will find a highly engrossing, enjoyable and extensive competition mode.
With 33 Championship and an equal number of Hot Pursuit tracks to conquer you're going to be playing Need for Speed for some time. In addition there are many ways to attack the various tracks in the Single Race Mode where you can even choose to be the cop. Overall there's a real feel of satisfaction and there are few console titles where you really do feel you've got value for money.
Although it has more than its fair share of good points, Need for Speed 2 should have been so much more and you can't help but come back to that annoying frame rate. It's a shame really as the franchise has delivered some incredible gameplay over the years but this latest GameCube version doesn't appear to raise the bar or even equal the frantic racing fun that EA's driving series has become famous for. Good but by no means great.
N-Europe Final Verdict
Should have been better than Burnout but unfortunately... it's not.
Excellent Car Models
Sluggish Frame rate