Review by Kornb

"Has any game let you feel the adrenaline of true speed racing enough to pee your pants? This game can."

Yeah the game is old, but I just bought it, and for those who have not heard about it (very unlikely) or have some doubts about whether buying it or not, here comes my review to further persuade you to buy this great game.


Ever wondered how would it feel to be inside a Ferrari F50 or a Lamborgini, and even have the opportunity to give it a ''test: drive? Well, the latest Need for Speed game from EA lets you do it. The car selection is not as wide as the one in GT3, but what the latter lacks is the choice of the really kick-ass and expensive cars. Yes, you read right. For instance, you have an assortment of 41 exotic cars. If you thought the other games have already defined the idea of driving fast...then think again. The cars in this game do drive FAST! Heck, even 70 mph feels fast and if you want to go even faster, you can pick a Lamborgini Murcielago and even make a new definition of going 200mph+. But not everything comes that easy. While NFSHPII offers you the wildest rides you have ever had in your wet dreams, you only begin the game with a few ''not-so-fast'' cars. But if exotic cars is what you want, then you can pick a Vauxhall VX220 and have an initial feel of what the game offers.

The car models are not GT3 quality but still they look really good. You can even see the driver inside steering the wheel making the shifts. Some minor attention (very low) was paid to the driver's animation inside the car. When the car bounces, the driver does too. Talking about the tracks. Many people have bashed them, but in my opinion they look really good. What you see here that you dont find in GT3 is animation. There is always some stuff going on in the tracks, like a fire going on in the Forest Park and thunders striking on the desert one. Also there are some nice effects in the game like when you go through ramps, a low motion cam is set when the car is airbone and the camera makes a hard shake when you land, throwing light particles when your car makes some friction with the road.

Another category that Black Box seems to accomplish really well. If you dont believe jit ust test it yourself. Pick the Ferrari F50 from the car menu and give it a test ride. You would be impressed by the engine sound this 12cylinder car makes (especially when it is inside a tunnel). I must say though, they somehow seem to be compressed. The Viper engine sounds too weak, especially when it is reving up at high speed. There is really no sound on the tracks, except from the ones being produced by the many environmentals effects, (like thunder, fire, rain splashes). It would have been nice to have a wind sound effect, especially when you are in first person view (sort of what GT3 has) and ''flying'' through the tracks. Even though not many people pay attention to the background music (even to the extent of turning it off), I wasnt on the need to do it, and as I really liked it. It was decent music for a racing game, not like the hip hop crap.

The gameplay on this game is pretty basic. You basically have to drive like a maniac on all the tracks (some to get a first place, others to out-maneuver the police). Really there was no serious attention paid to the physics driving system, except for the basics (heavy cars are slower to drive, and take more effort to turn, while light cars can even stop and turn in a dime). As you already know, the game was made to be an arcade racer. The game is divided in two sections. World Racing and Hot Pursuit. World Racing delivers your standard race to the first place goal while Hot Pursuit spices things up and add the police which in turn makes gameplay more of a plan ahead driving. In my opinion the meat of the game is in the Hot Pursuit section as the police throws everything at you with the objective of stopping you at all costs. Road blocks, spikes, the standard corona, even a helicopter that throws explosives at you form most of the police stopping tactic. But beware, if you thought Ford Crowns was all that the police was going to chase you with, you are dead wrong. For high powered cars, custom bmws and Mustang Police cars (equipped with yeah, NOOOOS) will conform will daily maniac racing nightmares. These cars get from zero to really high speeds in such a short time you will think it is not funny. But, you know what. Yeah, there are FASTER cop cars. The later ones will make you their ***** if you want to behave like a very bad boy. Of course not everything is lost, as the game gives you the ''weapons'' required to make battle against the Cop Lambor.....OOps!

Things get really cool in ''You are the cop mode''. You get to drive these beasts. Not only you drive them, but you have the opportunity to fully use all the Police load. Your prey is going too fast?, activate the NOS and observe how the environment blurs while your tachometer raises into the 100's. If they are still not stopping send them hell. You can call for Police airborne support and ''politely'' ask them to throw the explosives! and set barriers and spikes across the road too!

Overall, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit II is a great game and it is a must-buy for those serious racing fans. With all the exotic beauties the game has to offer, plenty of unlockables (cars) and some nice vids of ''The Making of NFSHPII'' there is really nothing you can lose. I bought the game for $20 but the minute I played it, I honestly thought NFSHPII was worth the original $50. The game is worth every penny.

The only bad thing about the game is the use of the Zone and Freeze cams. If you drive in Manual, like I do, then activating them is going to enrage you even to the point of cursing. Sometimes I would find myself upshifting or downshifting early than activating them. I found this thing to be very annoying. The zone cams seem to be really useful for Hot Pursuit mode, but the good thing is that is easier to pull this one off rather than the ''Freeze cam'' which is actually hardest to pull (in my opinion).

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 02/01/04

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