If you haven't got a PS2, you'll have to settle for this. That said, it's still a great game.
But the other day I found it and installed it. And then, I remembered how good it was.
The gameplay is simple. You're in a street race, and sometimes the cops come after you. The cops are almost always in a similar car to yours (There's only one cop car which isn't just a variant of a normal one), and they have things at their disposal. If your difficulty is above beginner, then more likely than not two units will go after you. Sometimes - if your difficulty is on beginner - they'll also set up a roadblock or send a helicopter after you. The roadblock is simple enough; a couple of cop cars blocking the road, sometimes with a spike strip. The helicopter drops flaming barrels in front of your car, that explode when you hit them. Okay, so it's dangerous and not exactly realistic, and more often than not the cops hit them, but it makes for a lot of fun.
For a twist, you can also switch sides and become a cop, and bust racers. There are generally two ways of doing this. There's the easy way, which is to ram them lots of times and wreck their car, and there's the proper way, which is to keep them stopped near you for long enough. If you're good at it, the proper way is potentially easier and a lot more fun than the easy way. You have all of the resources available to you; the helicopter, roadblocks, and backup units. Let's start with the backup units. In a game this old, something helping you is just bound to go wrong. And it did, actually. They actually make it worse. All they do it sit at the racer's quarter panel and do nothing else, which means there's another car in your way, and you can't pit the racer. Then there's the chopper. Since the cops often hit the barrels when you're a racer, you would expect the racer to hit the barrels, right? And they do, actually. Then the roadblocks, which I think are the most useful thing. If it came without a strip, then it'll slow them down for you to come up behind and ram them. If it comes with a strip, and the racer hits it, well, it immobilizes them.
There are two career modes in the game; Hot Pursuit - which is a variety of events - and Championship, which is a variety of events without cops. The events in Hot Pursuit include Delivery - which is a P2P while getting away from the cops - and the races, knockouts, and tournaments that you're probably familiar with. In Championship mode, there're time trials, races, knockouts, and tournaments, all without police. But what really makes these modes interested is the selection of cars it chooses for you. For instance, in the Australia-based tournament in Hot Pursuit, you have a choice of the Ford Falcon TS50 and Holden HSV Coupe, both competing Australian cars. But really, I'd recommend sticking to the Single Challenge, where you get to make your own event.
The choice of cars is wide, but in my opinion, I would prefer it if it went further into the slow end. The slowest car class includes the Lotus Elise and Opel Speedster; which are quite fast. In Forza 4, for instance, those cars are class C, and it goes down to the VW Rabbits and Toyota Aygos of class F. Plus, the cars are a bit too evenly matched. A Mustang is equal to a Ferrari 360, and a Crown Victoria is equal to a Lotus Elise. And that's just not right.
Before I go on to the next part, I should just mention the physics. It has a good traction control system, which being a NFS game you can't turn off, and the cars actually react properly. The Crown Victoria is the two-ton lumbering beast that it is IRL, whereas the Lamborghini Diablo is uncontrollable like it should be, the Mercedes CLK-GTR is a taut racer, and the HSV Coupe, being Australian, would go everywhere sideways, if not for the TCS system.
EA went ambitious with the graphics of this game. The last game - Porsche Unleashed - had low poly models and the lowest resolution textures known to man. HP2 was the first Need for Speed game for the sixth generation of consoles, and it's as if they just went mad. There's good damage modelling, the model quality is divine for that age a game, the "Busted!" animation in incredible, and the lighting is more than decent. You know Underground and its incredible graphics? On par with that. It's just that good.
Only problem I have is the tracks. They just seem a bit... half-assed. They're great tracks, but EA seems to have not put nearly as much effort into the tracks than anything else. Trees are the standard round trunk with four flat parts for leaves. You crash into things that don't look like obstacles, and hillsides don't have enough polygons in them. That said, textures are decent.
Fun Fact: This was the first Need for Speed game to use licensed music. And it's damn good music at that. Rock, electronic, and hip hop music from the likes of Uncle Kracker and Buzzhorn. Plus, it's had tracks specially made for it. I love EA's taste in music from around this era.
Apart from the music, the rest of the sound is also great, especially the collision sounds. When a police car is gently bumping you, it makes the perfect sound. When you crash into an obstacle, it makes the right noise. If you crash into another racer that's trying to go forwards it makes the right noise, and if your car is rolling over - you guessed it - it makes the perfect noise. Plus, there are accurate engine and horn sounds, which are filtered well depending and how far away you are from whatever's making the noise. Plus, it echoes when you're in a tunnel.
The Verdict/Final Comments:
It may not be as good as the PS2 version, but it's almost as good as it, and just as addicting. It has some huge flaws, but they're easy to tune out and just enjoy being in a police chase in a McLaren F1, and pushing the cop into a palm tree.