Review by Inquizative

"One of THE best racers to date, on any system...period."

I am a racing fanatic. If you look in my collection of games (for the Dreamcast, PS2 or PSX), 85% of the games staring you back in the face would be racing games of all sorts...actually, any games that have wheels, whether skateboards or bikes, etc. Anyway, I like to think that I'm an expert of sorts when it comes to racing.

With that said, here is my review of Need for Speed: Hot pursuit 2.

Introduction
If you have played any of the previous installments of NFS for the Playstation or PC, you will be quite comfortable with this years latest hit. The premise is basically the same. You get to race licensed cars from top manufacturers, through traffic. What's more is you get to try to outrun police units and helicopters.

GAMEPLAY
This is where NFS really shines. ALL aspects of this racing experience are nearly perfect. Every one of the cars handle differently from one another, causing you to change up your driving style to get them to react the way you want. Because of this aspect, the challenges
(contained in the actual racing section or under the Hot Pursuit section) prove to be fun. For instance, in one of the hot pursuit challenges, you are required to deliver a certain vehicle to a destination under a certain time limit. Sounds easy enough, right? Add in these factors: The car is light and slow. There are a ton of cops and even a helicopter or two that drop barrels of explosives and/or fire heat seeking missiles at you. Now, reality sets in. Since you are not driving a fast and solid Lamborghini, every bump the cops give you or every smoking barrel you hit, slow you down, causing you to lose precious seconds or be arrested. Get my drift? If all the cars drove the same, the challenges wouldn't be that (no pun intended) challenging, because you could simply use the same strategy over and over again. Boring. Great forethought by EA. Control This is a HUGE aspect of gameplay. Here, EA could have just included the standard programming for one type of control. However, they went the extra step and included a second option for how the car handled. This one being classified as ''extreme'', where the car handles a little more ''arcade-like''. The control options here work quite well.

AUDIO
In my opinion, EA could have sparkled just a little bit more here. Don't get me wrong, the sound effects were great. The background noises were processed well by my home theatre system, giving the perception that you actually passed that babbling brook on the left. The engine noises are good and for me that's fine, as I have no idea what a $300,000 Ferrari sounds like from the inside. My only gripe was the amount of music. I liked the different choices and it's great that EA spent the extra bucks and got popular bands and musicians to provide music for the tracks. The only thing wrong here is that even more songs would have been better. I'm picky. The music provided, though, did indeed fit the themes of the races, especially the hot pursuit modes.

VIDEO
Visually, EA did a great job. While the detail may not have been to the extent Burnout 2's is, it is quite good. The cars are detailed well, although the shadows and shine are not THAT realistic. Sorry EA. One area that NFS shines in (among many) is the sheer size of the levels and the detail contained therein. I think this was THE BEST aspect of EA's presentation in NFS. This description may well suit the gameplay section, but I'll address it here. In every environment raced in, there are tons of secondary roads and shortcuts that can be accessed, though some are very well hidden. Although there are various access roads and trails, it's not always advantageous to use them, and I think this was implemented well in the game. If you love enormous tracks that don't feel so ''confined'', you'll really enjoy the tracks of NFS. The design of them is just about the best I've raced on in any PS2 racer.

REPLAYABILITY
This game can be played FOREVER! Well, that may be a little exaggeratory. When you factor in (1) all of the cars you can win, (2) all the tracks you can unlock, (3) the hot pursuit mode, which can be played against the computer or friends, and (4) the fact that you can be either a racer or cop, you begin to see that my earlier statement is not that ridiculous. This is a great solo or party game which can be played almost until EA releases their next installment of NFS (if they decide to). In short: You will NOT tire easily of this game. I guess this all leads to the last point: RENT or BUY. If you've been paying attention carefully, you can see that this is a ''to Buy game''. If, for some reason, you cannot afford to shell out the 50 bucks for NFS (that should be your only excuse), then renting it would be appropriate for a short time, after which you'd need to buy it to finally beat the 60 challenges (total) and have some real fun. :D

In short, as you can see from my excitement, BUY OR RENT THIS GAME NOW! You will not be disappointed at all. If you love racing games...buy it. If you just have to have the latest games...buy it. If you just love games, period...buy it. ''Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2'' is, by all means, one of the most fun PS2 games to date.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/08/02, Updated 10/08/02


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