Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 Review
Hot Pursuit II is a worthwhile purchase for anyone interested in an arcade-style racing game.
Electronic Arts recently released three versions of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit II, the sequel to the 1998 arcade-style racing game, Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit. This fast-paced driving game is currently available for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube, with a PC version to follow at the end of the month. You'd expect that the console versions of this game to be identical, but strangely enough, they're not. While the Xbox and GameCube iterations of Hot Pursuit II are in fact exact ports of one another, they're markedly different from their PlayStation 2 cousin, and in this case, "different" doesn't mean "better." In short, the Xbox and GameCube versions of Hot Pursuit II have slightly detuned graphics, mushier controls, and inexplicably, a variety of minute but tangible ommissions from the PlayStation 2 game. Electronic Arts opted to have EA Seattle develop Hot Pursuit II for Microsoft and Nintendo's consoles, while Black Box handled the development chores for Sony's system, and the differences are quite evident. To be sure, Hot Pursuit II for the Xbox is by no means a poor game. In fact, it's a very competent driving game in its own right. But comparisons can't help but be made to its PlayStation 2 counterpart, especially when the difference in quality is so glaring.
Need for Speed: 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, rather 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.
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 "hot pursuit," this career mode is composed of 33 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 Grand Theft Auto III, the amount of cops that are thrown at you is measured by the number of stars in the center 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 just once in a given race (you get three strikes in the PS2 version), 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 33 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 guard rail. 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 are still reflective of 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 of the gas button, though judicious use of your hand brake makes cornering a lot easier than not.
It's perhaps a little strange that you're not rewarded for driving wild in the Xbox version of Hot Pursuit II, like you are in the PS2 game. In fact, the points system in this version of Hot Pursuit II is completely different from the PlayStation 2 version. Here, you'll be awarded with a bronze, silver, or gold medal upon completing any of the hot pursuit racing events, and each of these awards has a certain point value attached to it. You do get a few points within each race for posting the fastest lap and such, but there aren't as many ways to earn points in this game--like for taking massive jumps, for instance--as there in the PS2 version. What's more, you can choose which cars and tracks you wish to unlock yourself by spending your points accordingly--nothing becomes available to you automatically. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just seems strange that it's done in a completely different manner from Hot Pursuit II for the PlayStation 2. There are a little over 30 cars that you can unlock in the game--about a dozen less than the PS2 game--including 10 cop cars, all of which can be driven at will in the game's challenge mode. Additionally, Hot Pursuit II has 12 unique racetracks, though that number quadruples if you count the mirrored, reverse, and mirrored-reverse courses. 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: 8
- 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
- Offline Modes:
- Number of Players: