Review by MasterVG782

"These types of racing games keep me glued to the genre.."

I must admit that I've only ever played one other Need for Speed game, which was High Stakes. Of course, I loved that game and played it to death, but I was looking into a racing game to add to my PS2 collection. I thought I was going to end up having to get GT3, but after playing GT2 for a bit, that idea went the way of the dodo. This is one of many games that I've watched someone play and ended up wanting to buy in the end. Was I ever happy when I finally got it as a present, since I could enjoy the glory that is this game.

The visuals for this game are nothing short of breathtaking. The cars are nicely rendered and the tracks are simply amazing. Dirt kicks back when you drive off-road and I love it when I drive into a spot where the sun is glaring down and I see the reflections off of my vehicle while I'm driving. I did notice a TINY bit of slowdown on some occasions, but that happened only when there were an enormous amount of vehicles on-screen. You'll be to busy being ahead of everyone else to worry about a lot of vehicles on-screen, right?

First, there are two main modes in this game, Hot Pursuit and World Racing. Hot Pursuit has the cops chasing after you (with help from a helicopter sometimes), while World Racing is just pure racing. There is a set of 30 events in each mode that allow you to test your skills, unlock more cars and open more tracks. Some of these events have you racing against other competitors in Lap Knockout (last place is knocked out after each lap), Race Knockout (last place eliminated after each race), Tournaments and just multi-lap races. Other events include delivering a car within a time limit and doing a lap under the specified time. Of course, in Hot Pursuit mode, there are a couple of events that have you as the cop, chasing the fast-driving vehicles.

If you don't like the 30 events option too much or if you've played it to death and finished everything, there are a couple other options for you to choose in each of the two main modes. Quick Race randomly chooses a car and a track for you to go head-to-head with computer-controlled racers. In Hot Pursuit, there's a You're The Cop option, which lets you hunt down the speeding drivers. There's also the Challenge option, which lets you do a race with the computer and/or another player. A good deal of options to keep you busy. You can also do a Free Run (available under Challenge) to get a feel of the tracks and make you better at them.

One button for the accelerator, one for the brake and one for the emergency brake. The controls are very tight and do differ with each vehicle. You can also get rid of the things on your HUD by pressing up on the digital pad, but I think they don't really get in the way while racing. Great controls for a great game.

****SOUND & MUSIC****
I must admit that the sound effects for this game are pretty good. You hear skidding when you're supposed to and the crashes give out that noise you hear when you crash. Though I didn't really pay attention to the music while playing; mostly because I was trying not to annihilate my chances of winning a given race, it's not a bad choice for a soundtrack. There's enough variation among the tracks, ranging from rock to techno. Most of the rock songs have two variations, one with lyrics and one instrumental, in case you don't like the vocals for that track. One option I do like is the ability to make tracks play when you want them to play. You're able to edit when you want certain tracks to play, such as having one song only play when you're racing in Hot Pursuit's Ultimate Racer mode (30 events). A nice addition, I must say.

Once you finish the game completely and unlock everything there is to unlock, you'll probably not want to do over again unless you were immensely bored or actually anted to do it. As for the difficulty, it can vary depending on the event you're doing. Some I had an easy time doing while others ticked me off and took me a couple of tries. I must say that the AI for the cops is at a good enough level to not entirely piss you off, but not low enough to say, ''That was entirely too easy.''

If you're looking for a racing game that doesn't require such in-depth prowess as Gran Turismo 3, then this game is a definite must-buy for you. This game is excellent for racing fans and excellent for non-racing fans, so I must say that this is a BUY for either type of fans.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/01/03, Updated 01/07/03

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