Here comes the fuzz
Recently I accidentally found out that my Microsoft Kinect transmitted my most intimate verbal procrastinations into the ears of my pals. This proved rather embarrassing as I discussed to myself theories on why the island from Lost and Balamory are the same place, only for people to whisper my name and listening to everything I said. I’m therefore thankful that my most anticipated racer Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit came out for the PS3 as well, as the sheer amount of excited expletives shouted through the house whilst wrecking wannabe speeders would only have been meant less friend requests and more potty mouth sent my way then I could possibly handle.
Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit is a much needed shunt in the right direction for a franchise slowly beginning to rust away in mediocrity and tired concepts. A revival of the Hot Pursuit series abandoned some 8 years ago, the sweet yet now somewhat dishevelled corpse has landed in the lap of Burnout birth parents Criterion Games to truly give it some new blood.
The beautiful small county of Seacrest is being overrun by reckless speeders racing upon its gleaming tarmac, and the local police department decide that they must fight fire with fire in order to bring them to justice, no matter how many innocent motorists lives either party may endanger. The racers are determined to get their high octane thrills with no consequence, the cops want a quick but by no means clean collar, and you’re the traitor in the middle that gets the best of both worlds.
Has enough personality in presentation to set it apart from its chaos ridden counter-part
Though the rules of the road for each faction are polar opposites to each other, it’s extremely exciting to play by either, no matter what side of the law you’re on. The racers do exactly what they say say on the tin, look for the greatest spots in the county to terrorize with adrenaline and battle each other to finish lines for street dominance and the biggest bounty on their heads. The supercars on offer are easy to manoeuvre, yet all require a considerable amount of skill to master through the traffic infested roads. It doesn’t take long, however, for those behind the wheel to start wheeving around the streets dodging lumbering innocents and speeding through each race as if it was your last.
The brilliant driving capabilities serve to make all the events on offer thrill-rides in their own right. Even the generic races and time-trials are enjoyable segments of the game. However, the action really kicks in hard when both factions of the law are forced to battle it out. Rules for Hot Pursuits are simple, racers must escape, cops must smash everyone to justice. Though in the midst of escaping the long arm of the law avoiding jail-time seems the main objective, you’re still toyed with reaching the finish line first, and though you and your racing brethren are chucked in the same boat with the fuzz on your tail, nothings’ stopping a sneaky barge or ‘misplaced’ spike trap to push you ahead of the pack whilst looking innocently saucer eyed in the process.
The cops are thankfully equipped with a range of cars that will live up to the task of catching the reckless speeders, as a vast selection of ‘Ford Fiestas’ against the average professional footballers garage would’ve made something of an argument against morality. On top of their exotic models and glitzy paint jobs, all the cop cars seem to be reinforced with Kryptonite, as slaying the racers that dare escape you see those sparks of Burnout flair Criterion are famous for. Loyally playing on the right side of law rewards you with spectacular slow motion takedowns of opponents and the hunger to fire a gun out the side window.
Firing all cylinders up into three digits on the speedometer is easy, yet throws you into all sorts of dangers. Like real life, every other innocent driver on the road is a pillock too busy living by the rules of the road and prove unpredictable obstacles. Dangerously sharp short-cuts, false routes and sudden curves in the road require a cool head to traverse at such high speeds. It’s the first time in the series that the dynamic of Need For Speed has matched it’s namesake, and the constant hazards coupled with bullish opponents doesn’t mean that he who dares wins, rather that life on the road is filled with dares.
As if environmental obstacles aren’t enough, each faction is kitted out with four weapons to help shake off or demolish the opposition. Though there’s only four available for each vehicle ranging from ‘Spike Traps’ to ‘EMP’ missile like devices, each are restricted to only a certain amount before each event. This means that, although the simplistic artillery on offer is nothing to shout about, the need to ration all the weapons out for only the neediest of moments makes the action packed dog fighting even more tense, with false moves sometimes costing victory.
Other than dominance over the roads, players are driving for bounty, an in-game currency which improves ranks and leads to bigger and better rewards. The prizes on offer are distributed evenly throughout the game and wit an ever increasing challenging difficulty curve, every single award feels justified in its generosity and makes you feel almost guilty being constantly lavished with gifts for such enjoyable gameplay that never feels like a chore to play through.
The AI opponents are all unpredictable and relentless, yet it still doesn’t beat facing off against humans in desperate need of soap washing out their mouths. Multi-player is made incredibly easy through a system called ‘Auto-log’, a Facebook of competitive gaming. Through battling it out online, friends or worthy foes can be added to the system for quick reference next time you wish to fight it out with them. Even when you’re offline, should a pal beat a time of yours on a particular event, you’re given a friendly yet alarming ‘poke’ to bring your A game to events you’ve destroyed in the past before that poke becomes an itch.
The bright haven of Seacrest County is a driving playground that conveniently spans beaches, deserts, mountains and forests (with a mild dash of motorway thrown in for speeding recklessness sake). No matter where you race, the cars shine in glistening sun and heavy rainfall, and look suitably battered after a few bouts with each other or the beautiful landscape. Add fierce roars from the cars and a fitting soundtrack, and you have a brilliant aesthetic to bring death upon.
With near flawless driving, tense events that feel appropriately challenging and a near endless list of rewards, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is an exceptionally enjoyable racer for the adrenaline fuelled junkie. Although the vehicle mangling crashes are akin to the Burnout massacres of Criterion’s former years, it has enough personality in presentatio
n to set it apart from its chaos ridden counter-part. With an ever present danger constantly on your tail as soon as you jump in and hated for the opposition fuelling your veins, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit packs enough punch in a market that’s making high octane thrills the norm.
The Bad: Camera can occasionally focus on crashes more than actual racing