Review by BKGlover
It was about time we had a good NFS. Good, not great, but it's a start.
First off, it is a good game. Few have a better all-around feel. That said, it does have issues, some are of the beast's nature, and some are of its handlers. So with that in mind lets get going.
Let me open this with a statement. I don't think highly of NFS: Most Wanted. It was a decent racing game with good graphics, fair physics, and nice options, but it was also a game with many frustrations. The mandatory chases, bounty "earning", irritating A.I., and many other details just kicked me out of the experience. Preference in the series has been NFS: High Stakes (PSX) and NFS: Underground 2 (PS2). Now let me be clear; Carbon was decent, ProStreet was OK, Undercover started well but soon took the bad of Most Wanted to an idiotic level, and then there's Shift. I have had a severe distain for Shift since I first tried it, my opinion hasn't changed since.
Since about the time Undercover was released, I called for EA to prepare the plot for Need for Speed's burial, and when Criterion were said to be working on the game, I was still thinking of what could be written on the headstone. Even after its unveiling video I thought," well that's nice, but so is everything else anymore." It was once the demo began that I finally saw what the hype was about. Happily from E3 to release there was no difference.
The game goes back to the tried and true standard of racing game stories, the lack of one. You are a driver that possesses some superhuman personality traits as neither the police nor the racing scene turns their back on you for being on the other side at any given time, which I like. It means no excess conversations with characters you care zilch about. That said, the cop jobs are usually harder than the racing jobs.
So for the good. The selection of cars is very good, the leveling system is pretty good but could have been better, the track layouts are good and yet familiar, the physics are great, and the online modes, while laggy at times, are great fun and a great challenge. Most of the race options are fun, and the arcade setup of the entire game is a definite step in the right direction. In all, it feels like a return to the series original ideals; Fast cars, fast action, high intensity racing, and I love it.
Yet as is always the case there are issues. On both sides of Johnny Law, there are a few modes where it's either 1-on-6, you being the one as always, and, in essence, time trials of which the cop TTs are usually harder as you are penalized every time you hit anything, AND YOU WILL hit something, as it's the culmination of the natures I spoke of earlier. You see, NFS arcade racers have always had twitchy handling cars, so if you hold (or don't) a turn too long, you'll go careening across the track. This effect is magnified by the simple fact that Criterion, the studio that produces the Burnout series for the uninitiated (and if you are, go try one of them), and if you've played any Burnout game, you can quickly pick out some glaring similarities.
By the way, Criterion, I have some big problems. First is consistency, but that plagues most racing games. Second are the instant wreck hidden-until-your-on-top-of-them obstacles that cause you to wreck every single bloody time. They aren't funny, they're BS and you know it.
Now where was I...
Oh yes. Overall, it's a solid arcade racer. In my mind it beats out both Blur and Split/Second. I like it, but then again, I'm just one man. Give it a shot yourself and see how you like it.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (Limited Edition) (US, 11/16/10)
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