Review by c magnum

"This racing game is like a shoot of adrenaline."

Most people know that Gran Turismo is an awesome racing game but it is a pity, most of them don’t know about NFS: Hot Pursuit 2, which is an equally cool game. Like GT3, NFS: Hot Pursuit 2 features a showcase of fantastic cars that many of us can only own in our dreams. The main difference lies in the gameplay, environments and the number of cars featured. What I can say is that Gran Turismo will make you drool and Hot Pursuit 2 will raise your adrenaline level.

Story ?/10 – What story? You don’t need a story for a racing game! Next section!

Gameplay 7/10 – Take note that I’m not a racing fan so the score for the gameplay come from someone who appreciates racing games but not devoted to them. Racing fans will probably rank the gameplay of this game higher. Anyway, you guess it, this game is all about racing exotic cars down different kinds of tracks to be Number One or King of Racing or Champion in Racing or Legendary Racer…ok, you get the idea. What set this game different from the other racing games are the addition of new gameplay elements, which add depth, excitement and extra hours of playing to the game. And these are the elements that make me play this game instead of just going down to the arcade to play Daytona.

Ok, let’s get to the cars first, while the number of cars showcased are not as many as in Gran Turismo, there are enough to keep you happily entertained. And the cars featured are some of the most awesome cars that many crave for yet unable to own, from BMW, Porsche to Ferrari. Yes, they drive really very, very fast but you got to earn enough points or win certain events to unlock some of the more exotic cars.

This game has two options: Hot Pursuit and World Racing. World Racing is your standard racing option, and as for Hot Pursuit (This is where the game really shines), it is about racing plus the fact the Police are hot on your tails. In fact, Hot Pursuit is about illegal racing and the Police will by hook or by crook try to catch you. If you are caught, you will be given a warning, thus slowing you down. Got busted for 3 times, and you are out of the race. Thought that if you are fast enough, then you can avoid being caught? Wrong, for one thing, the police cars are sports cars and their cars are faster than yours, they have no problem catching up with you. Second thing, if the police cannot stop you by just chasing you, they set up road blocks, in extreme cases, they will get a helicopter to scatter smoke bombs on the road ahead of you to impede you from racing further. To make things more exciting and challenging, there is traffic on the roads, so you have to avoid other vehicles to prevent slowing yourself down or increasing your offence, which will make the police more persistent in busting you. The police in this game will follow you when they spot you, but they also hunt down other racers also (though not as often) instead of just targeting you only, thus giving a sense of realism. As for the fellow racers, they know the shortcuts of certain routes, so sometimes, they will take the main road, and other times, the hidden paths.

Talking about shortcuts, well, the tracks provide many alternate paths for you to take. The tracks all take place at the outdoors where are several hidden shortcuts waiting to be discovered by you. In fact, the shortcuts will play a big part in determining whether you can shake off the police pursuit or overtake other racers. And it feels real good to suddenly swerve into a shortcut and see the police chasing you crashing into the track divider. But take note that you have to understand the track and know where are the shortcuts, otherwise, you may find yourself becoming from number one to the last. So the real challenge lies in finding out what is the shortest route to destination and emerges as champion.

Actually, the very feature that makes this game exciting causes the main problems present in this game: the shortcuts. In order for the shortcut system to be implemented, the features of showing the placing during the race, and an overall view of the track indicating the positions of the racers, are axed. Most players may find this hard adjusting to since we are used to knowing which position we are in during the race and whether there is going to be a straight road or bend ahead of us. However, I guess this cannot be helped since different racers take different routes thus it is not easy to determine the positions of the racers, also the routes are not shown for the purpose of letting the player to find out for themselves where are the hidden shortcuts. If you can do without these two features, the gameplay of this game should not pose any problem for you. However, I do wish that the player is informed of the distance left from the destination or at least the number of laps left. After all, that is the basics of racing games, non?

World Racing is divided into 3 sections: The Quick Race, Challenge and Championship, while Hot Pursuit has four sections: The Quick Race, Challenge, You are the Cop and Ultimate Racer. The Quick Race is just about being given a random car and then race with it, which some may find challenging, since other cars may much faster than the car you are given. But some people may find this a waste of time since logically speaking, it is impossible for a BMW M5 to win a Ferrari (Don’t mean to compare these two cars, but BMW M5 is exactly the car I got randomly while another racer got a Ferrari, needless to say, I lose terribly). The Challenge is about choosing the car you want to drive, the track you want to race on, the number of opponents you want to compete against and the amount of traffic to add to the challenge. Most people will be playing this section, since you can customize a lot of stuff, earning points and aim to finish all the tracks as champion, well, your standard racing stuff. As for Championship/Ultimate Racer, there are many events for you to test your racing skills ranging from finishing the track within certain time, being the first to finish at least one lap to beating the opponent. In fact, some events are required to finish in order to unlock some cars. As for “You are the cop”, the name is self-explanatory, you be the cop and try to bust the racers with the help of roadblocks and helicopter. The mode could have been more fun if the racers are not so hard to catch… With so many options and modes, this game can keep you entertained for hours.

Controls 8/10 – Your standard car racing controls. Full stop. Ok, ok, I elaborate a little bit more, racing fans will not have any problems with the controls and those new to this genre will find it easy to get used to. Press “X” to accelerate and go… The controls are responsive so there is no problem on that. No main problem with the controls is the camera angle, there are two views, one is behind your car and another is inside the car. Most of the time, in most racing games, I will prefer to use the “inside the car” view to have tighter control over the car and the experience is nearer to that of driving a real car. However, in this game, this view is strongly discouraged to use this view because the camera angle shows the tracks in such a way that it is impossible to see what is ahead. Yah, you will be tempted to stand up and stretch your neck to actually see what is in front of you though this will prove to be futile. You can try this view but the chances of ramming into the traffic are extremely high and you can hardly where the shortcuts are until you actually pass them already. Other than this problem, the controls are OK.

Sounds 9/10 – Wow, the music is absolutely cool and it rocks. No cheesy pop songs, no mind numbing Trance and hardly any commercialized, disgusting Techno, this game mainly features adrenaline pumping rock music. The amazing thing is that though the music sounds great, most of them come from relatively unknown musicians, with exception of Bush. It is easy to just find some popular radio friendly tunes to put into a game to make the gamers pleased with the music. So kudos to EA for actually digging out great music from a sea of unknown musicians. The sound effects are decent and some of them are pretty good, like the explosions and police intercom.

Graphics 8/10 – The cars are very good-looking and looks good enough to please most gamers, though not as drop-dead gorgeous as the ones in Gran Turismo A Specs. All the tracks take place in the outdoors and the background looks absolutely great. The waterfalls, forest fires (the effect looks nice on video games but that does not mean I like forest fires in real life, it is a very sad thing to happen), the flora and fauna, ah, they just look so amazing. Also, some objects like the grass will fly about realistically when your car goes over them.

There are several times, in which when your car make some huge collisions, time will slow down showing the motions clearly, a la Matrix, which is pretty cool.

Conclusion: This adrenaline pumping game is a must for racing fans, for non-racing fans, it is well worth a try. This game is especially good for a quick break of few minutes where no commitment to finish the game is required.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 01/20/03, Updated 01/20/03

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