Hot Pursuit is a Need for Speed game in name only. This blisteringly fast racer has more in common with developer Criterion Games' own Burnout series than it does with any previous Need for Speed offering, despite lacking a number of features that are commonly associated with Burnout games. This isn't a game in which you're rewarded for crashing spectacularly or for jumping through billboards, but it is a game that encourages you to drive dangerously and to take down your opponents by any means necessary. The option to play both as illegal racers and as the cops that are chasing them brings some much-needed variety to the action, while spike strips, road blocks, and other satisfying countermeasures ensure that Hot Pursuit doesn't feel quite like any racer that you've played before. Regardless of whether your interest in Hot Pursuit stems from a love of Need for Speed, Burnout, or neither, you won't be disappointed.
6284061NoneYou have to race hard for some of the gold medals.
If you're familiar with the Burnout series, you'll immediately feel at home with the handling in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. Licensed cars from the likes of Lamborghini, Aston Martin, and Porsche can be made to slide around corners with only the briefest of touches on the brake, and you earn nitrous by driving dangerously close to other vehicles and into oncoming traffic. Furthermore, there are plenty of shortcuts available if you stray from the Seacrest County roads, and should you wreck your ride while attempting to take one, you're treated to a glorious slow-motion shot as panels buckle and debris starts to fly. A similar slow-motion treatment is used to alert you when additional cops show up to chase you down and when you successfully take out an opponent, which adds a welcome touch of Hollywood to these high-speed chases. Not that they need it.
Even in the Career mode's time trial and rapid response events where you have no cops or racers to worry about, the potential for disaster is ever present. Oncoming and slow-moving traffic, risky shortcuts, and sharp corners all conspire to keep you on the edge of your seat, and other event types add so many additional hazards for you to concern yourself with that your heart will likely still be racing long after you cross the finish line. As a racer, you find yourself being pursued by cops who can organize roadblocks, hit you with EMP blasts, drop spike strips in your path, and even call upon helicopters armed with spike strips to slow you down if you get too far ahead of them. And as a cop, you're expected to chase racers who have their own EMPs and spike strips, as well as powerful turbo systems and jammers that render all of your equipment useless for a short time. The good news is that as your opponents slowly gain access to more and better equipment in Career mode, so do you.
Hot Pursuit's cars are resilient enough that they get their own health bars.
Equipment is mapped to the D pad and is available only in limited quantities. This keeps events of the same type from feeling too similar because, for example, taking down racers by overtaking them and then dropping spike strips is very different from hitting them with EMP shots that take a few seconds to lock on after you position yourself directly behind the target. You always have the option to just bash into other vehicles in order to take them out, but these cars are much more resilient than their Burnout counterparts, and it generally takes several hard shunts to put them out of commission. Incidentally, as a racer you're free to run your opponents off the road or even to use countermeasures against them, but when there are cops in pursuit, it's best to save your aggression for your common enemy.
Cops and racers in Hot Pursuit benefit from impressive AI that makes them both formidable and occasionally unpredictable opponents. Both are smart about using their countermeasures effectively and are appropriately aggressive. But they're also fallible, which can make for some exciting moments when racers collide into each other directly in front of you, for example. Racers won't always take shortcuts, but it's not uncommon to see them doing so; impressively, when you're tailing them as a cop, they often wait until the last second to turn off the road, which makes attempting to follow them much more challenging. Cops will take shortcuts as well, but only when they're pursuing racers down them. Interestingly, not all of the alternate routes actually save you time, and how effective they are as shortcuts is in part determined by how well your car handles off-road. If you're in a four-wheel drive Subaru Impreza or Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, loose surfaces don't slow you down much, but if you're in a low-slung exotic like the Koenigsegg Agera or Pagani Zonda, you're probably better off staying on the tarmac.
Taking down racers as a cop is even more fun online that it is in Career mode.