Review by makeveli2002
"An overlooked XBox racer"
Being a big sports car enthusiast, it was only a matter of time before I ran into the Need for Speed series. I had played the PS2 version of Hot Pursuit 2 to death, and I enjoyed it more then any other racing game. I came across the XBOX version in a store for a discount price. I had heard mixed things from both the Gamefaqs message boards and video game magazines, so, I decided to try the game out for myself.
GAME PLAY: 10
First of all, I quickly found out that this version of the game kept the same fun, fast-paced game play that the PS2 version did. In fact, I liked the game play in this version more. The AI for both racers and cops seemed a lot more fine tuned then they had been on the PS2 version. Cops, instead of mindlessly slamming you into the walls, seemed to actually try and spin you out and make you lose control. The racers can be extremely aggressive, and in some of the tournament races, will give you quite a fight.
Also, one of the biggest complaints I've heard about this version is the decreased sense of speed when compared to the PS2 version. To tell you the truth, I hardly noticed. Also, the game itself is NOT slow moving at all. Trust me, when you're driving a McLaren F1 down narrow back roads, you won't be thinking about how slow you're going.
The goal you're striving to achieve, like most racers, is to unlock new tracks, and faster cars. The cars themselves are modeled nice and smooth, and the engine sounds are completely authentic. The manufacturers in the game range from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Ford, Chevrolet, Mercedes, and of course, McLaren. I've said it before and I'll say it again, this game has the best lineup of any racing game out there.
Cars and tracks are earned by getting Need For Speed points, which is basically money. This is different from the PS2 version, in which completing events got you cars. The Xbox version lets you unlock any car at any time, depending on the points you have. Cars range from the basic models, to police car versions of certain vehicles (the Xbox version has 3 police cars which aren't available in the PS2 version), and then the best cars, which are Need For Speed versions of the basic models, with a custom paint job, and improved handling and speed.
NFS:HP2 consists of two event trees. The Championship tree involves you competing in straight up races and time trials. The races range from single races, to knockouts (in which the last place car is eliminated after each lap, until only one vehicle remains) to tournaments (in which the car with the most points wins after a series of races). In your first few races, you will pilot lower-end sports cars and luxury cars. After that, you'll be put behind the wheel of modern muscle cars like Corvettes and Vipers. Your final races will put you in the drivers seat of some of the most power injected beasts (McLaren F1, CLK-GTR, F50) to ever hit the roads. The second tree involves the same sort of challenges, only this time, the police are thrown into the mix. Sometimes you will even assume the role of the cop, and will have to take out some speeders. This is done by ramming the speeder until their health bar depletes. It's simple, but fun. These event trees will be what you will rely on to get enough credits to buy new cars.
The game has 3 different button configurations you can use. You can opt to use the buttons to accelerate and break, or you can use the left and right triggers for that, which was easier for me. I found the triggers to be a very convenient way to control your car. As in real life, different cars control differently. The speed demons like the F50 control quite differently from vehicles like the Viper. All in all, the controls are quite easy to pick up and get used to.
The graphics in this game are great. The tracks are beautiful, to say the least. They range from a country road in the middle of autumn, complete with falling leaves, to a Hawaii-like city with the sun setting. All of the tracks are pretty much open road, so, it's a perfect environment for high-powered cars to race. I'll also say that the XBox version has the best graphics out of any of the NFS:HP2 versions. However, I think that the developers should have included some more tracks that could really show off the power of the Xbox. A night time city level like one of Gran Turismos or project Gothams would have been welcome.
The cars, like I said earlier, look fine. They aren't on par with PGR's models, but they are still very good. However, the cars don't get too damaged. Even when they run into explosives, the worst that'll happen is an opened hood or a dent in the fender.
Well, the in-game soundtrack is OK, but, this game utilizes the custom soundtrack feature, which means you can listen to whatever you want.
The sound effects are good too. Horns and engines sound like the real thing. Yes, the F50's horn really does sound like that.
In conclusion, I strongly suggest that if you like racing games, pick this up. This game is overlooked because many said it wasn't as good as the PS2 version. I actually liked the game play better, as the AI seemed a little more aggressive and rough. The graphics are much better too. The sense of speed being lowered is hardly noticeable, especially if you haven't played the PS2 version. The custom soundtrack really helps out too.
However, the one thing in my opinion that prevents this game from being better then the PS2 version is the loss of the Desert tracks. They were some of the best tracks in the PS2 game, and provided some variety. And, speaking about variety, some of the tracks look extremely similar, and some actually contain segments of other tracks. However, you can flip them backwards, or mirror them. And, like I said, some of them are very beautiful. I think that this version makes up for the loss of the desert tracks, since it has three additional cars, better graphics, and the custom soundtrack feature.
Overall, I highly recommend this game. It's one of the most addictive and fun games I've ever played.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 02/13/03, Updated 02/13/03
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