Review by gloBal enemy

"This game is better than Auto Modellista. But only slightly.."

Introduction
I really really enjoy playing Need for Speed. I've enjoyed all of them except the last two renditions of the Porsche and Motor City (I know theres one more but I haven't played it). Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 is the sequel to the third game in the series Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit which came out around mid-1998 on the Playstation and the PC. The graphics were breathtaking on the PC version (I ran a Banshee on a P2-400mhz) but the Playstation version had much to be desired. Since then Electronic Arts have tried to resurrect the classical Need for Speed series but with not to much success. The reason is IT SIMPLY WAS NOT FUN. Need for Speed: High Stakes was very good (the best if you ask me) because it kept the Hot Pursuit mode but the single player was more focused on racing rather than pursuit-related games; and Porsche Challenge was a shocker. A Porsche only game? That meant that either the cars were identical to you or were either overly fast or drop-dead slow causing unbalanced and uninspiring games. Thankfully Electronic Arts went back a few paces and decided to make a sequel to the most important aspect of the Need for Speed chain which no other company (except maybe Rockstar's GTA3) has come close to copying.

Gameplay
Most of the game is focused around ''Hot Pursuit''. For those who don't know, its another way of saying there are cops waiting to chase you around every bend. There are 49 cars to play with; each requiring work to unlock. Okay it works by you are a racer, you have to try to finish the race; and there are cops strategically placed around the map who like real cops, do cycles around the place and then try to chase after you and knock you off the road so they can earn their dollar. To make things more fun the cops can work together and smash you in between each other; they can chase at you with boosted cars (how a standard police car can overtake a Lotus Elise from standstill I do not know how) and they can launch roadblocks and spikes; all working together with the aid of the barrel dropping helicopter. To make things a little more fair you can see the cops on your radar and you even have one of those beeping things below your rearview mirror which beeps and flashes as you get nearer to cops. A new interesting feature is the 'cycle' (L2) which cycles your car so you can see everything around you. The graphics are not as crystal clear as GT but by using motion blur it sort of looks like a Matrix ripoff. What happens is you press L2, the game pauses and the music keeps going, and the camera (in 3d-glory) swivels around your car so you can see everything. This doesn't disrupt gameplay though and the camera swivels back to the previous view. Usually I bag things out which feature these Matrix ripoffs (examples include Shrek) but this is flatout cool. Another cool feature is when you 'foresee' the track. The game pauses when you press R2 and then it sort of sends a seeker out on the road (and the camera follows) so you can see any upcoming roadblocks and cops. A good idea to use this is when you hear the Police mention there is a roadblock or helicopter; and the beeping meter starts beeping VERY loudly. The gameplay is so much fun its unbelievable. Unlike Gran Turismo which is realism, this is arcade fun. You can turn so effortlessly and the semi-automatic feature is unbelievably cool.
Now, the tracks are very long. By long I mean lap times are around 5 minutes for the first few tracks you play. The cops are very skilled; and there are stars to tell you how much trouble you are in. Don't get me wrong; the tracks are very fun and even though they are long you'll be on the edge of your seat crying. There are so many hidden sections and shortcuts its unbelievable. The shortcuts are essential to complete the missions.
The missions are based around Hot Pursuit. The first one is delivering a brand new Lotus Elise (that is driving it around the track with cops waiting for you in mild traffic) in less than 5 minutes. You can smash the car but I have to admit I failed the first time; I didn't realise I would take that long to finish (I got 5:16) but it is damn fun. You earn points and well by completing missions and earning points you can unlock more dream cars. Such cars available at the start include the Jaguar XKR Coupe (oooh) and the Opel Speedster.
The cars are not simulated realistically apart from the speed; and boy does this game go fast. The graphics are well suited to the gameplay and the tracks are just marvellous.
The game is great but the only downside which is actually an upside in a way is that the cops can drive very good cars as seen in the introduction; a Lamborghini cop car. Luckily you too get to drive these beauties.

Graphics
A game with bad graphics in this day and age, is considered a bad game. Why? No-one likes looking at boxes and boxes of crap without nice graphics. This game may not have Gran Turismo-quality graphics, an unmatchable benchmark but it does have superior graphics to anything I've played in a long time (lately I've played Auto Modellista and Grand Theft Auto 3).. The use of motion blur causes the graphics to look nicer than they really are and they are also alot cooler since you are playing very fast. The way the game speeds up is very nicely done.
The scenery is very nice as well; with the overhanging trees, and the changing tracks (for example each lap in the first track results in a different part of the bushfire- the firetrucks arrive and put the flame out gradually) are all nice. The dust effect is so annoying when you are following cars but it does add fun to the game. Some tracks use the dust to cause problems and I tend to forget corners and never look at the map so... The map however is very cool in its 3d rotating glory!

Sound
I haven't really cared much about the music but its very suitable for the game. When you trying to avoid cops you don't listen to the music. The sound effects however are very inspiring. The VROOOOM on acceleration is very appealing to me and the cop car chatter is amazing. As you race in hot pursuits, the cops talk to each other about what is going on and you get hints at whats coming up next; ie. ''We need a roadblock'' means to watch out.

Presentation
Man the introduction is so damn nice its unbelievable. I keep watching it over and over again. Its not nearly as good as Gran Turismo 3's opening (or 2 for that matter) but it is still very nice.

In the end
The game is very nice to play and I love playing it alot. Its my favorite game at the moment and if you are tossing up between this game and Auto Modellista go for this one.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/12/02, Updated 10/12/02


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