Review by red0991
A great racing title to add to your collection
If you're looking for a great casual racing game with some action elements thrown in the mix, then this is a great title to have. With its gorgeous graphics, great vehicular handling, interesting tracks and scenery, and challenging AI, it proves to be a great throwback to older Need for Speed games. It does have its drawbacks however, a lack of depth and customization is a small letdown, as well as unskippable cutscenes and narration that become rather annoying. I'll break the game apart into small categories and give quick reviews and ratings for each to show the strengths and weaknesses in better detail. This review is given with my experience with the single player career mode.
Like I said previously, the graphics in this game are just gorgeous. The only other racing game that has had my jaw dropped with this category in recent years was Gran Turismo 5, and quite honestly I prefer the graphics in Hot Pursuit because of its attention to detail to the world you race in. A lot of time has clearly been spent crafting the details in the scenery and the track around you, everything ranging from dry desert tracks with sand and dirt kicking up, to cities during a thunder storm. Your environments don't feel stale or unimaginative, and the vehicles fit right in. The attention to detail is just grand with the bodies of the cars, however the interiors aren't as up to spec. This isn't a big deal though, considering how little you see of the inside of the cars ever throughout the course of the game. The graphics in this game aren't just pretty, but greatly assist to the immersion factor of the game.
The audio in the game is solid. Not all of the vehicles sound like their real life counterparts, and the sound effects as a whole aren't groundbreakingly vivid. However they play their roll, and everything sounds good enough to not warrant a complaint. Playing with a surround sound system, I was a little disappointed with the on par audio quality, probably because of how fascinated I was with the visual quality. The music isn't anything to go on about either, mostly fast electronic music with a couple punk songs tossed in. The track listing doesn't seem to be very long and the game cycles through them rather quickly, so you wind up hearing the same songs over and over again. Also if you're a fan of rock music, there's very little. While the music listing is purely subjective, I think that it could have been widened a little bit and added some more tracks from more genres. I will say though, a nice feature that did stand out to me was the environmental sound effects during the rainy stages were nice.
This is where the game really shines. The cars handle incredibly well, if lacking a bit of variety. The weather effects in the game make your car feel less in control, but not overly slippery where the game feels unfair. The AI doesn't use the rubberband effect, where you're in first the whole race and suddenly they gain mach 5 speed and win on the last lap. The crashes and police are equalizers in themselves, where avoiding them may reward you with a victory, and failing to do so will result in you restarting immediately. All of the types of races in the game are fun and enjoyable. Whether you're a police officer chasing speeders around, or you are a speeder breaking your own time trial record, or breaking a police officer for that matter, the game made sure every mode of gameplay is fun. Drifting through tight corners and using your NOS to whip yourself quickly to the front of the race is always a satisfying feeling, no matter how many hundreds of times you do it. In the event that you wreck a cop or another racer, the game will give a slow motion view of your rival's demise. In some games that proves to be fatal for you, because when the game returns, you're still driving straight into a sharp turn. Hot Pursuit makes up for that by auto cruising your car around bends during the cut scenes. This feels very natural and flows nicely into gameplay, making it even more seamless. The fast paced action, and steady flow of every race will keep you immersed in the game for hours.
The only downside is the game really plays really for its own sake. You don't get to customize the cars you unlock past picking a color for it, and the car variety isn't vast. The farther you get in the game, the more cars you unlock. Which makes sense, but there isn't much of a reward for unlocking the car, other than for the sake of having it. Most of the cars are fit for most of the races, so it boils down to picking your favorite model, in your favorite color. Also the unskippable cutscenes and narrations kind throw the immersion level out for a minute. However these are rather nitpicky things I'd say for a casual game.
As a whole, this game is very solid entertainment for a few hours, and the replayability is high if you're looking for some casual, high speed racing fun, but don't want the aggravation of the Burnout series' rubberband AI, and frequent game halting car crashes. The minor flaws don't kill the game, and can generally be overlooked because of how well the game presents itself and operates. Need for Speed Hot Pursuit is a great game to keep in your library.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (Limited Edition) (US, 11/16/10)
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