My wife likes to tell me that there is a 13 year old boy inside every man. Even more so if that man is a gamer. She’s probably right. It would explain why I love Need for Speed Hot Pursuit so damn much.Need for Speed Hot Pursuit is the re-boot of the Need for Speed franchise that of recent years became a little bogged down in the details. EA gave the job of bringing life back to Need For Speed to Burnout: Paradise developer Criterion Games.Criterion stripped it back to the basics, fast cars, smooth roads, cops and slow motion crashes. It’s a 13 year old boy’s dream racing game. Set in the mystical Seacrest County – a location that has everything, from coastal roads, to snowy peaks, the miles of highway are liberally littered with a plethora of shortcuts and surprisingly devoid of too much traffic. Add to this the fact that all the racers seem to drive exotic sports cars rather than Jap imports, and the cops likewise, and you have the beginnings of an awesome game.
But wait, there’s more.
Depending on the race mode – and there are a few – you may have an arsenal of tricks up your sleeves, from spike strips to EMP bursts, both racers and cops have the ability to reign down destruction of their foes, and when you do bring the pain to the opposition, you get a slow-motion cut scene a-la Burnout and a bonus to your score.Of course, you get the same slow-motion cut scene when the opposition take you down.So which side will you choose? Will you become a racer and take on the cops, or do you preferrer to stay with the thin blue line and shut down the illegal street races? Can’t decide? Nor could I. But fortunately you can have a career in the police at the same time as you have a career in street racing.Moving up the ranks is as easy as winning races – not that that’s always easy though! Win more races and unlock more cars, and better offensive measures.Graphic the game shines. From the glimmer of a wet road to the gentle falling of the leaves through the forest roads, the graphics are pure eye candy – another feature that Criterion borrowed form their Burnout games.How well do the cars handle? Well this is an arcade racer. If you want realistic handling driving round and round the same track for an increasing number of laps, go buy Forza 3. Driving in Hot Pursuit is like smoking crack cocaine – it gives you an instant high and will have you coming back for more. It never gets boring.Sure all the cars seem to handle basically the same – some handle off road better, some go faster. But all cars are easy to handle and even a total noob will be able to drift round corners with ease.Of course, even the best drivers will fail be to bale to see the car just beyond the blind hill and crash head on whilst screaming down the highway at 200, or notice the police roadblock in time as the take the perfect line around a sweeping bend.And that’s the fun (and admittedly frustration sometimes) when you do make a mistake they are usually huge. For the most part however, they are recoverable, and it seems there is always a race left to be had.
Hot Pursuit isn’t the perfect racing game, but it is the perfect arcade racing game. If high speed thrills and spills is your thing, then this is your game.