|System: X360, PS3, PC|
|Dev: Criterion Games|
|Pub: Electronic Arts|
|Release: November 16, 2010|
|Screen Resolution: 480p - 1080p||Violence|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Although the Need for Speed series has historically featured high-speed chases and thrill-based gameplay, last year's Need for Speed: Shift heralded a literal shift for the series into simulation territory. Many gamers (including myself) were wowed by this venture into new territory, but as the series follows so many others into the simulation genre, it's hard not to feel some nostalgia for the arcade genre, which has been shrinking in size at an exponential rate. However, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is certainly a great example of an arcade-style racer done right and proves that there is still plenty of life left in this genre.
The game is set up a lot like the old Need for Speed games where two rival factions battle for control of the streets: cops and racers. However, though previous games let you assume the role of the racer in a mostly-linear career mode, Hot Pursuit allows you to take on the role of the racers and the cops. As the racer, your job is (of course) to win races and outrun the cops. But as the cop, you'll need to take down drivers and respond to calls in time trials. Of course, the former is the most exciting, as the folks at Criterion have certainly included some of their famous Burnout style crashes included in the game.
The two factions have separate careers that can be accessed on a world map that lists missions for both scattered across the fictitious Seacrest County. As you complete missions for both sides, you'll unlock special challenges and, of course, increase your rank. You never have to choose one side or the other to complete in any linear fashion, as missions for both will appear on your map no matter where your progress level is.
And speaking of progression, the way you go through the game is interesting, as you unlock new events by earning bounty and, of course, finishing missions within certain "gold" parameters. While the gold parameters are laid out for you before you even take on the mission, the bounty you earn during each event is completely up to you, and you'll need to pull off some crazy stunts and engage in some risky behavior in order to earn a favorable bounty bonus.
The game's new structure is certainly a welcome change of pace, and the open mission structure is a great way for players to take on the missions they really like and leave others for a later time. Honestly, it's hard to remember how we got by in these fast-paced arcade-style racers before the open system. Of course, you'll have to beat nearly all the missions if you want to succeed in either career (you "win" the career once you reach Level Twenty as either a cop or a racer), but there are extra bonuses available for you if you complete every mission, and you'll have to do some incredible stuff to unlock all of the game's impressive garage of cars.