Review by Sunrie

"If speed is your drug, this'll make you OD!"

First off I just want to say WHY I gave it an eight and not a full blown ten: There is always room for improvement. While this game is by far the best racer available to the Playstation 2, it does have draw backs, but those are far, far outweighed by the pluses.

Graphics
The graphics on this game are beautiful to say the least. Chrome shines in the sun set, water sprays through the air, and heat causes that neat ripple effect.
Each car busts up pretty good, but this is just a cosmetic thing. There's more to the cars getting destroyed in this version than there is in the previous games.

Sound
Excellent! There's real music this time around and YOU get to select where and when you want what song to play. This is an incredible feature that seemed to be lacking in the previous games in the series.
Everything from the banshee screaming of tires on a peel out to frogs croaking in the water pipes are present for your listening pleasure. The only draw back is that if you really want to hear what's on the road/engine/voices, then you'll need to turn the music down, or everything gets trampled on each other.

Controls
Damn near realistic. This game is all about SPEED and the controls hold up with the cars at their incredible speeds. However, with that being said, don't expect to take a 75 degree turn at over 120 MPH. You WILL have to slow down to take turns and correct yourself.

Downsides
Like I said, you do have to turn down the music to be able to listen to everything all at once, even with the HiFi cables in the VCR/TV or surround sound system. Don't use an RF adapter for this game or it'll sound jumbled for sure.
You are very limited in the angles of the camera you are able to choose. There are only three that I can find: Behind the Car, Roof, and In Car. Personally, I liked the Heli view from High Stakes.
There's no reset button! If you crash, you're screwed. Don't expect to be able to hit a button and put yourself back on the track. This does help to add to the realism, though, and can be used to your advantage: If you slam your opponent in a ditch face down, he/she/the AI will be forced to correct the problem manually.
The damage is only cosmetic! If you bust your engine so badly it starts to smoke, you won't slow down. Again, this can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you drive. I took a personal liking to busting up cars and watching them strain to get up a hill in NFS: High Stakes, though.

Neat little additions
This game is heavily, and I do mean heavily, into the Hot Pursuit aspect. I mean, it IS called ''Hot Pursuit 2'' after all! Playing the Hot Pursuit mode is the best way of playing this game be it alone or with a friend. The cops are about 5X harder than they were in the previous NFS: High Stakes, so be on your toes!
When you pull off huge jumps, the camera will slow down and circle the car, often with a blurred effect, to highlight the action. Don't worry, you CAN turn this off and do it manually. If you're thinking this might be a cheesy ''The Gyver/The Matrix'' rip, you're wrong. It's actually really interesting when it happens.
You're finally given the option on how you want to go about winning the races to unlock different vehicles and tracks. Now YOU are in control of what to unlock when and not have to do guess work as to what will be released to your speed demanding hands.
When you peel out, the car gets squirrely just like in real life. Now, this is only on a RWD car, so Honda owners don't start thinking, ''But my car doesn't do it when I peel out...'' Also, little bumps in the road while travelling at high speeds and/or side swiping another car will send your vehicle into different demanding actions in which you will be forced to get the car driving straight again! My suggestion? Lay off the gas and remember your driver's training handbook lessons.

Rent or Buy????
I'm going with a huge ass BUY on this one. Rent it first to make sure it's going to be your cup of tea, though.

With the few negatives there are in the game, you'll be hard pressed to say this game needs much improvement. While there is always room for improvement, this game is by far one of the best on the PS2. I'd even go as far as say it's MUCH better than GT3 simply because of all the things available to you.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/29/02, Updated 10/29/02


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