Shift to a Hot Pursuit!
Like many others in the gaming press, I was pleasantly surprised by Need for Speed: Shift. Although the NFS series had been previously known for its arcade style of gameplay, Shift changed the direction of the series and presented a fully competent simulation-style game that provided some stiff competition for established simulation series like Forza. Although Shift was a great success as an experiment, Need for Speed looks to be getting back to basics with its newest iteration: Hot Pursuit.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit was just announced this past E3, and is being developed by Criterion, the same people behind the blockbuster Burnout series. Of course, the first thing on our minds was how explosive the potential was for Hot Pursuit to be like Burnout. However, in a special closed-door meeting with Criterion, we were told right off the bat that this title was not intended to be a Burnout version of the classic arcade racing series. Make no mistake, Hot Pursuit will retain all the elements of a Need for Speed title, but with a special twist that fans have been clamoring for since the early days of the franchise.
Instead of providing a view into the life of a street racer or a pro driver, Hot Pursuit allows you to play through two separate modes: street racing and police. The street racing feature reminded us a lot of classic NFS and involves some challenging driving and an emphasis on strategic driving and the use of boosters and power-ups.
However, the gameplay got interesting when we were able to see how the police sections would work. Of course, as a police officer your main goal will be to track down and arrest racers. But aside from simply just catching up to the racer, as a police officer you will have several resources at your disposal that will make the chase more interesting. These resources include a helicopter that appears on-call to slow down the car as well as reinforcements who can set up roadblocks.
Although the street racer can use radio jammers and speed boosts to try to outrun the cop, it became pretty obvious that the police drivers have the immediate advantage. It came as no surprise that the police cars were incapable of taking damage and have inherently faster acceleration. The folks at Criterion said that the choice to make the cop more powerful was deliberate, as it makes the experience feel like a real chase. The racer will have to think quickly to avoid its more powerful pursuant, and the cop will need to avoid the strategic moves of the assailant.
In addition to the game’s new “cops vs. racers” format, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit will also feature a new social gaming system. While games like Blur have given you a simple interface to see how your friends are doing in their game, Hot Pursuit has a new system, dubbed “Autolog” which combs through your friend’s playlists and compares completion times, challenge progress, and even favored game modes to make suggestions for activities to undertake through the game. The Autolog can be enabled at all times and is constantly feeding you stats and suggestions throughout the game’s menus.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit may have been just announced this past E3, but we already know quite a bit about this upcoming title. The new cops vs. racers slant should make for an interesting twist to classic Need for Speed experience, and with Criterion bringing their unique style, it’s hard not to be excited for Hot Pursuit’s release this fall. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit will definitely change the Need for Speed franchise again, and it couldn’t be in more capable hands with Criterion.