My favorite racing series of all time has to be NEED FOR SPEED. When I bought the first one for the PC all those years ago, I knew I was going to be hooked as long as the game was made. Maybe it was because NEED FOR SPEED offered the first time you could really attempt to outrun the police in a game. I'm not condoning this in real life, but hey, if you're going 90 mph on a busy highway, sooner or later a cop is going to come after you. It really added realism to the racing genre.
With numerous sequels under its belt, Electronic Arts has brought out the newest game in the NEED FOR SPEED franchise, this time under the HOT PURSUIT license. Being the direct sequel to HOT PURSUIT, HOT PURSUIT 2 offers incredibly fast gameplay, a wide variety of cars and, of course, ruthless cops. But with all of those things, is NEED FOR SPEED: HOT PURSUIT 2 a good game?
The game controls very well, although most of the cars control about the same. The only difference is some of the cars slide a bit more than others, some don't turn as well, some take-offs are a bit slower; other than that, the cars feel similar. And really, no matter what car you choose, you can win a race; that BMW can beat those Ferraris any day.
The game looks very good in some places. The cars are beautiful and look very detailed. The driver in the car is also animated, and you can see him turn the steering wheel or shift up or down. The brake lights, sun, and sirens are also very realistic. The backgrounds aren't that well done, though. The trees look awful, and the road looks blurry. Maybe it is because we're going over 100 mph. Go figure. As bad as the backgrounds look, nothing compares to the cut-scene when you get caught by the police. The character models for this scene are atrocious, and the animation is even worse. This shouldn't have been included.
HOT PURSUIT 2 has several game modes, including Hot Pursuit, Championship, and Single Race. Within the single race section, though, there are three other modes: Be the cop, Free Run, and Tournament. My one complaint with the game modes is that there really isn't much of a difference between the Hot Pursuit and Championship modes. Each mode consists of thirty-three races divided up into two tree-like structures. After the successful completion of a race, and as long as you place in the top three, you will earn points and unlock the next race for that branch. There are different types of races, or "missions", that you will have to accomplish. Some are just getting to the finish line in a certain amount of time, while others are an elimination type thing where if you're the last one around a lap, you lose the race.
The one bad part about this game is the selection of cars for each mission. Normally for each mission you'll be able to select only a certain amount of cars that have been pre-selected for an event. And some of the cars you can choose from are not in the other selectable cars' league, and yet, if you select the slower car, you can still win with ease.
The Be the cop mode is fun at first, but loses it's excitement after a few times. You do the same thing over and over again: run down the bad guy, ram him, call for back-up, ram him again, and give him a ticket. Then repeat. And the fact that you only have a certain amount of time to catch a certain amount of speeders kind of sucks too. The 360 camera is a pretty cool feature. When you make a good jump, or crash particularly well, the camera will pause, and then rotate around your car to show you what it looks like from all sides. Unfortunately, this lacks from the Playstation 2's version where you can perform the 360 camera at any time you wish.
This leads me to another problem. Why is this version so much different than the Playstation 2 one? I understand there were different developers, but the games are so much different and the Playstation 2 version is so much better.
In the end, NEED FOR SPEED: HOT PURSUIT 2 is really a letdown for this NEED FOR SPEED fan. While it is fun, I seem to get bored very easily with the game. Fans of the series should probably give the game a rental. If you have a Playstation 2, though, pick it up for that system instead.