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Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (Xbox 360) artwork

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (Xbox 360) review


"Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is a difficult product to pitch. To NfS, Burnout, and racing fans who haven't played it yet, this really comes off looking like nothing new or stellar. And you know what? They would be correct. For Burnout players, Criterion sets the stage in another fictional location, Seacrest County, and dares its fanbase yet again to make risk-taking the name of the game. If you want to go faster and abuse that boost meter, you gotta drive on the wrong side, nearly rub othe..."



Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is a difficult product to pitch. To NfS, Burnout, and racing fans who haven't played it yet, this really comes off looking like nothing new or stellar. And you know what? They would be correct. For Burnout players, Criterion sets the stage in another fictional location, Seacrest County, and dares its fanbase yet again to make risk-taking the name of the game. If you want to go faster and abuse that boost meter, you gotta drive on the wrong side, nearly rub other vehicles, and drift like crazy to fill that sucker up. And yes, the wreaks return once more, and it just never gets old watching the various, accidental ways you can destroy those speed demons. For NfS gamers, they'll once again be placed in many licensed luxury cars, either being chased by the cops or becoming the police, with spike strips and roadblocks dropped, placed, and scattered throughout the course.

This is the entire game.

There's no revolutionary new gimmick, no awesome, crazy mode of play, or visually trippy scenery.

What you get, however, is refinement. Criterion takes these key aspects from both franchises, mash them together, and fine-tunes them to create a solid and enjoyable experience. When I won my first and second races, I thought this whole playthrough in Career mode was going to be as easy as sinning, assuming I could just abuse the boost meter like in past Burnout titles. Then I lost some races and realized I had to rethink my strategy for victory... Unlike in previous Burnouts, the use of boosting in Hot Pursuit requires some planning and thinking: boost up a hill, after making sharp turns, and in shortcuts, to name a few. Almost every use counts, as well, because this thing drains fast, and refills pretty slow.

Adding to the challenge is the surprisingly competent AI. They don't act like professional racers, instead coming off shockingly humane in their driving abilities. I mean, if you were to have a real-life, illegal race in the middle of traffic, with cops breathing down your neck, how would you describe the situation? Crazy. Hectic. Unpredictable. Pick one. Simply put, the AI drivers are going to crash a lot. This may sound beneficial, but you'll be amazed the amount of times your car, going at 200/300 mph, will drive towards a pile-up. The heart of Hot Pursuit are these uncanny races, and it'll take concentration, skill in taking corners, and management of your limited gadgets (comprised of spike strips, turbos, EmPs, and more), to reach the finish line. But it's so hard, at times! There were plenty a moment where I actually "OOOOOOH!"'d out loud at the unexpected. But there was never hate, just eagerness to hop back into a race.

Well, I could have done without the abundance of time trial races, but they're not so bad...

Not surprising, though, is how these thrilling races are amplified when you take a stab at Hot Pursuit's online chase mode, aptly titled Hot Pursuit. Since these races involve real players, instead of AI simulating human behavior, the pursuits are much more dramatic and exciting. Each race is now transformed into huge multitasking jobs as you avoid being rammed by both rival racers and cops, checking for upcoming roadblocks and sneaky spike drops, taking advantage of shortcuts, using gadgets appropriately, and keeping tabs on the remaining miles! There are even times when you'll be stuck dueling it out with another vehicle, all while the rest of the group is miles away. Shoot, someone might even act ballsy by turning around and leading the chase to the beginning of the race!

All this action takes place on sunny highways, forests, wet hills, and through dark deserts. Doesn't sound impression, and it's easy to take for granted these visually typical locations in Hot Pursuit, but the lighting and other such effects do a fantastic job at changing your mind. If the scenario is right, you might drive near snowy mountains after a rainy day, as evident by the glistening roads you're slipping around on. Meanwhile, the setting sun is constantly in your view, giving your car a fine, shiny effect. Not to be outdone, some clouds are passing over the upper half of the mountains, displaying a dark, ominous vibe to the region. Sometimes this game is just really beautiful to stare at.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit may not be the next big thing in the racing genre, but it doesn't have to be. In an age where sequels are hyped as being fresh and revolutionary, only to really be more of the same with pointless, lame additions, Criterion's latest just gives you a honest-to-goodness sequel; you've been down this road before with Hot Pursuit, sure, but there's enough small changes and tuning here and there to make it not feel like a DLC title with a $60 price tag.

Rating: 8/10

pickhut's avatar
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