Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit manages to keep itself unique from other racing games due to a simple choice: be the chaser or the chasee. It’s a wonder that few games have tried to copy that mechanic, but Hot Pursuit does what it does very well: pitting racers against cops.
Sure is Pretty - Burning rubber, flashing lights, and even the heat of the pavement show up in glorious detail. EA has the visuals down pat.
Cat and Mouse - There’s just something so immensely satisfying about takedowns in this game. The best laid plans are always open to error, which can lead to long and grueling battles that make every chance to gain ground more meaningful. If you use the slipstream to close in on your opponent, you’re more likely to eat road spikes which will slow you down immensely. Jammers can be used in a pinch to thwart the deadly EMP blast. The EMP blast doesn’t cause much damage, but it works from a distance and can put the nail in the coffin for a heavily damaged vehicle. There’s a counter for every counter, making sure that races don’t boil down to the same winning maneuver over and over.
Sticking It to the Man - Racers now have access to weapons of their own. They can use EMPs and spikes just like the cops, but unique to them are Jammers and Turbo. Jammers are immensely useful, as they shut down just about everything the cops have. It will disable their weapons, their maps, and even disable deployed spike strips while active. Turbo lets you blaze a trail for a short period of time. Combined with the nitro, it’ll help you get ahead of even the fastest cops. The balancing factor to these nice toys is that you have a fairly limited stock of uses, with a cool down between each use. Using them wisely is the key to surviving an entire race.
Satisfying Crunch - The vehicles in this game all have a real feel of weight to them. Cool cinematics highlight every intense crash or takedown, giving you a good sense of satisfaction when you take down a tough opponent. The excellent sound effects enhance the amazing visuals too.
Career Mode - A fully fledged career mode exists for both racers and cops. As you advance through either mode, you’ll unlock new vehicles and eventually gain access to all four weapons, although some races impose certain restrictions on them. You gain bounty points based on your performance in each mission. Time trials reward safe driving, finding shortcuts offer bonuses, and taking down racers with different tactics can provide extra points as well. Best of all, the points you earn in the career mode carry over to the online mode and vice versa.
No Customization - While the career mode is fun, there’s no standard quick race option. While this game has the same open-world layout as Burnout: Paradise, there’s no tweaking of the missions or the abilty to customize a race with AI opponents. It left me scratching my head as to why this option didn’t exist, because it really kills the game for players who don’t have an online connection.
No Racing Your Buddy on the Couch - Hot Pursuit has no offline multiplayer. EA, you’re not going to earn more money by making people go online, you’re only going to lose people who have actual friends to play with. There is just no excuse for this type of game to lack a split-screen option.
Online Pass - If the code for the online pass was already used, you’re going to have to shell out an extra ten bucks to EA when you buy this game used. With online being the only option for multiplayer, this suddenly becomes a much bigger issue.
The new Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is a great ride: it looks great, drives very well, but lacks in options. The lack of offline multiplayer or race customization will only hurt the players who are expecting those options though, and if you’re fine with just the career mode and the online multiplayer, it will satisfy quite well.