Need 4 Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 from Electronic Arts is another in the long line of Need 4 Speed series. While several of the previous games (Need 4 Speed 3 for example) were not up to par, this reviewer feels that N4S:Hot Pursuit 2 is all it is hyped up to be. From breathtaking scenery to bad-ass cars, this game has it all. While it does play alot like it's predecessor, the improved graphics and extra gameplay options put this game well above the others.
I admit that it does have a few shortcomings, such as no damage model (you cant dent the car no matter how hard you slam your car into a tree), and the Your Busted scenes are cheesy looking at best.
Most of the tracks are variations of each other. By this I mean that they will use sections of one track and then add-on from there. Most of the tracks are long, some taking up to 3 minutes for one lap, and there are always several shortcuts and various ways to get around the track.
There are several sections of game play. There is, as the name implies, Hot Pursuit mode where the Boys in Blue are once again trying to put an end to your rampant civilian endangering racing. This time they have a new ally. Its a helicopter that drops explosive barrels that send you flying if you have the dumb luck of running into them. As usual, there are roadblocks, and spike strips to help them slow you down. At times the police are a tad over zealous and tend to remind me of the police in the game Driver. However, instead of just ramming you mindlessly, they are smart enough to call for backup when needed, and even try the infamous "pit maneuver" to spin you out of control.
There is also a tournament mode with a 30 race event tree. Each race you complete unlocks more cars, and tracks, and more sections on the tree. Each race consists or either just you trying to out run the cops and make it to the finish line in a certain amount of time, or a knockout race, which eliminates the last place person at the end of each lap, making the final lap a one-on-one race to the finish. The nice touch is that they included a single event section that allows you to "test drive" the section by yourself with or without traffic, which is very handy for learning the tracks.
The scenery is beautifully rendered, and does a very good job of giving you the feeling that you really are cruising along at 150 plus miles per hour. The cars ranging from the small , lightweight speedsters like the Lotus Elise, the high powered BMW M5 sedans, the Corvette Z06, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, and Mercedes CLR, all with multiple variations, are all rendered marvelously.
The only disappointment in the graphics department was the Your Busted scenes that play when you get caught. Your driver character, and the police are poorly drawn with very few polygons, and very poor animation. Other than that, the graphics are top notch, and will have you gripping the controls as you rip up the track.
The interface is very well done. You can use keyboard, joystick, wheel, or game pad, and all keys are remappable.
I am torn between using a joystick and a game pad. Both give you excellent control, and it really comes down to personal preference.
Only thing I ran into that I found weird is stepping on the gas. Its either full on, or full off. Of course most of the time your mashing the gas down to the floor, but I miss the ability to feather the throttle around corners.
I tried using my force feedback wheel, but could not get the force feedback working correctly. It would recognize that the wheel had force feedback capabilities, but I never noticed any difference while changing the settings from within the game.
This game is built for multiplayer! All variations of the single player is available in multiplayer. Nothing greater than splitting up, some racers, some cops, or everyone running from the cops. A good time for all is bound to be had.
Any racing fan will be thrilled with NFS:Hot Pursuit 2. With the addition of the racing tree, EA has come up with a winner. Even with the small problems I ran across, this game is a keeper.