Review by JordanAMeyer
"Need for Speed Needs Better Graphics"
In the true spirit of it's design, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 was rushed as if the developers were in some kind of race. This game builds on to a franchise that had, at the time, already built quite a name for itself on non-Nintendo systems and had become very popular. Following the release of the ever popular Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, fans were eager to see a sequel that held this same concept. The developers were equally, if not moreso, eager to please these fans... in fact, they seem to have been TOO eager. This game still served as a great introduction of the Need for Speed franchise to Nintendo systems; however, it fails to meet the expectations of it's predecessors on non-Nintendo systems - a major potential downfall of any sequel.
When the gamer first pops the disc for Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 into their Nintendo GameCube, they are greeted with an AWESOME video of some of the finest cars in the game battling it out in a street race through curvy roads while the equally high-end police cars follow them in "hot pursuit." An awesome, high-energy song plays in the background as this video is shown and it really gets the gamer pumped and sets high hopes for the video game racing experience of a lifetime. This video, although slightly exaggerated by the developers in some respects, does provide a great intro to the game and does help to prepare the gamer for the adrenaline rush that one can get from playing any game of this sort. However, there are some times where the gamer will feel like they are having an awesome experience like the one shown in the video and there are some times when that isn't so true.
This game is divided into three major modes: Hot Pursuit, Championship, and Single Race. Hot Pursuit mode provides the "main attraction" to gamers as they race against other fast cars and run from the police who often spot them speeding on dangerous roads. Championship provides a "carefree" street racing mode in which the player simply races against other cars without worrying about the police. Both of these modes are in a campaign layout and are made up of a fairly extensive event tree that requires a certain rating to move on to another level while providing optional (but more heavily rewarded) events throughout. Single Race mode provides the gamer with exactly what it implies - one race. This is the section of the game where a fairly simple (but customizable) multi-player mode can be accessed. Single Race mode also has a single-player extension called "Quick Race" that randomly assigns a car and course to the gamer and allows them to not have to choose every time. As points are earned through racing (primarily through the two campaign modes), the player is given the opportunity to unlock more and more cars and courses. In the sense of what you can do on the game, it is very diversified/customizable and becomes even moreso as the gamer continues to play.
The game provides a decent racing experience, but probably not the best. One major thing that the game lacks: REALISM! Okay. It's a video game. But there should still be a certain standard of realism met in it. Cars can take head-on collisions at high speeds and only come out of it with a bent-up hood. The game also makes it way too easy to reset the car from an "accident." In fact, there are many times when simply reversing your car out of a tight situation and pressing Z resets it and gets you back on the road. It would have added a better sense of realism (and a slightly more difficult-but-rewarding gaming experience) had the developers put more requirements on vehicle resetting. For example, the car is on it's back and unable to move - perfect time to use reset. The car is surrounded by police and backing up just enough to reset and get away - makes the game too easy and takes away from the thrill to an extent.
Aside from a lack of realism, the game DOES manage to provide an adrenaline rush at many times. There are lots of times during which the gamer is followed by a police car and relies on quick thinking and sometimes luck to maneuver around road-blocks, dodge flares, and attempt to pass a police car as it bumps into them and tries to make them lose control. The thrill of police chases and running difficult courses at high speeds is probably what will guarantee that any gamer will come back to the game at least a few times.
Controls in the game are also very simple and can (for the most part) be learned within minutes of taking the game out of it's box. The game consists mainly of "press A to go forward, B to stop/go back." Typical of racing games. Once the player becomes familiar with the cars and courses, manual transmission provides a more difficult (but rewarding) control experience that allows cars to go faster... if you do it right!
Honestly, the only thing this game has going for it graphically is the cars. It becomes obvious early on that the developers put more work into the cars than any other graphics in the game. Levels are very simple and unrealistic looking. In many places, the graphics in the game (cars included sometimes) are comparable to the previous generation of gaming consoles. The cars are VERY pleasing to the eye in many instances. Especially on the vehicle selection screen where the player is given the ability to look at their car of potential choosing from any angle.
The sounds in the game are average, but nothing really special. The music is great at pumping the gamer up before and during a race and the engine sounds are very realistic many times. There are occasional tire sequels and, of course, police sirens. The police voice tracks (they talk on a radio so that the gamer hears what is going on) are overplayed and could use a little more variety. After an hour of playing the game, most police lines can be memorized and become stale. The same can be said of the music to an extent.
Endless... if you can forget quality!
This game, despite it's lack of quality, is bound to keep you coming back occasionally for more. The events never really get old - especially in the upper levels! If the quality of the graphics and such are not that important to you, this is a great game. If you are one to become distracted by cheap development and low-quality, this game will probably just annoy you!
Try Before You Buy
This is one game that just seems to bring about too many different opinions to really say "Buy It" or "Don't Buy It." In the case of this game, I would DEFINITELY recommend giving it a try and would lean towards the "Buy It" side; however, it is a game that it is best left to a short field test to determine if it's fun enough to warrant paying for. It's a fun game that simply lacks effort on the part of the developers.
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 01/05/11
Game Release: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 (Player's Choice) (US, 12/31/06)
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