Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 Review
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit II is easily one of the best games in the series.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit II is the sequel to Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit, which was released in 1998 and was the third in Electronic Arts' venerable series of arcade-style driving games. Between then and now, however, EA has released two other Need for Speed games--High Stakes and Porsche Unleashed--which makes Hot Pursuit II the sixth game in the series, if you don't count the two V-Rally games that hit the market in the mid-'90s, that is. Confused? Well, never mind all that. All you need to know is that Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit II for the PlayStation 2 is not only one of the best games in this long-running series, but also one of the fastest, most visceral, and most polished racing games currently available for Sony's console.
To be sure, Hot Pursuit II is no driving simulator. It's not the next Gran Turismo, nor does it set out to be. This game is all about arcade-style racing, where car-handling properties are wildly exaggerated, and physics are more like loose suggestions than strict laws. Nonetheless, like all of the previous games in this series, Hot Pursuit II has a number of highly coveted licensed cars from American and European manufacturers like Lotus, Lamborghini, Dodge, Chevy, BMW, Mercedes, and the two most prestigious car makers, Ferrari and Porsche. What's more, all of these cars will take damage if you're too careless, though they'll take a good deal of punishment before they show signs of wear and tear, and no matter how badly you treat them, the cars and their performance will never be affected by the damage they absorb. Realism is not this game's forte, and that's what makes it so fun.
As its name implies, Hot Pursuit II largely focuses on the illegal art of outrunning the law. Actually, Hot Pursuit II is two games in one. Unlike other racing games, this one has two equally large championship modes, only one of which involves the police. Called ultimate racer, this career mode is composed of 30 individual racing events that force you to beat a number of opponents, while contending with the police, through a handful of different race types. Ultimate racer is laid out in a branching manner, and you're required to successfully finish one race before unlocking the next. As you'd expect, your opponents will get tougher, your goals harder to achieve, and the police less forgiving as you progress through this tree. Cops will come after you if you break the speed limit, and since you're tasked with crossing the finish line before your opponents do, you'll be breaking that limit constantly. At first, the cops will just send a couple of Crown Victorias after you, but if you refuse to pull over, they'll pull out all the stops to bust you. Much like in Grand Theft Auto III, the number of cops that are thrown at you is measured by the number of stars in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. When this meter is full, the police will place barricades and spike strips on the roads, they'll chase you with faster cars, and they'll even call in a helicopter that drops, of all things, explosive barrels in front of you. If the police manage to pull you over three times in a given race, you'll have to start all over.
However, that sounds more foreboding than it really is. Hot Pursuit II starts off relatively easy: You'll be driving "low-end" cars like the Lotus Elise and Opel Speedster, as will your competition, and the cops will go easy on you for the most part. As you work your way through the 30 missions, the competition will gradually get stiffer, but never to the point of frustration. The other cars are ruthless--they'll take every opportunity to give your rear bumper a not-so-friendly tap--though they're be no means perfect. You'll often see cars ahead of you plow into oncoming traffic or miscalculate a turn and ricochet off a wall or guardrail. You'll do that too, especially with some of the faster cars. While the physics in the game are by no means realistic, the cars' performance still mimics their real-world counterparts, although in a much exaggerated manner. The Ferrari F50, for instance, has a loose back end, making it harder to control around corners than the tamer BMW M5. Still, you can pretty much go through every race without ever taking your thumb off the gas button, though judicious use of your hand brake makes cornering a lot easier. In fact, wild driving is encouraged, since every time you get some air, overtake an opponent, break through a police barricade, or reach your car's top speed, you'll earn "NFS points." Hot Pursuit II has 49 cars that can be unlocked, including 10 cop cars and a dozen or so "NFS cars," which are slightly souped-up versions of their licensed counterparts. These cars require that you collect a certain number of NFS points before they become available in the game's challenge mode. It's here that you'll be able to take any car that you've unlocked and race it on any available racetrack, which also unlock as you gain more points. Hot Pursuit II has 15 unique racetracks, though that number doubles if you count the reverse courses. What's more, you can even choose between two weather settings--clear and cloudy--when racing in the challenge mode. In a nice touch, Hot Pursuit II's challenge mode even lets you play as the cops, and you can call in roadblocks and helicopters of your own.
- Player Reviews: 80
- Game Universe:
- Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed (PS, PC, GBA),
- Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 (PS2, PC, GC, XBOX),
- Need for Speed Underground (PS2, XBOX, GC, GBA, PC),
- Need for Speed Underground 2 (XBOX, GC, PS2, GBA, PC, DS, MOBILE),
- Need for Speed Most Wanted (2005) (XBOX, PS2, GC, PSP, PC, X360, DS, GBA, MOBILE),
- Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit (PC, PS),
- Need for Speed: High Stakes (PC, PS),
- Need for Speed II (PC, PS),
- Road & Track Presents: The Need for Speed (PS, SAT),
- Need for Speed Carbon (DS, GBA, XBOX, X360, GC, PS2, PSP, WII, PC, PS3, MAC, ZB)
- Offline Modes:
- Number of Players: