‘Need for Speed Hot Pursuit’ Review

Published 4 years ago by

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Review Game Rant Criterion Games EA

Playing Need for Speed Hot Pursuit is like being the underdog in a classic movie. Having to fight against insurmountable odds: outclassed, outweighed, outnumbered; there’s always a reason why you’re guaranteed to fail. It’s these reasons why we love the worlds of Rocky, The Karate Kid and other such movies — we see them beat the odds, and we feel we can too. They give us a sense of hope, joy, and a euphoria that lasts long after the credits roll. Many games have tried to tease similar emotions out of the player, but none so far have managed to beat those giant odds, none so far have managed to evoke that pure sense of utter euphoria. None, that is, until Need for Speed Hot Pursuit.

It’s a bold claim to make. After all, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit is an arcade racing title — a genre not often known for its emotional qualities. It would be a disservice to simply label Hot Pursuit as an ‘Arcade Racer’, however. This is an evolution of the ‘Arcade Racer’ sub-genre, and has carefully refined, perfected, and improved every gameplay detail imaginable.

Giving you the option to either pursue a ‘Cop’ or ‘Racer’ career, Hot Pursuit begins with a race available to each side and more are unlocked as you win races in each career. Winning a ‘Racer’ event will unlock more in the ‘Racer’ category which are dotted around the fictional Seacrest County, and the same goes for the ‘Cop’ career. It’s a progression system that seems incredibly simplistic, but remembering Criterion‘s comments earlier this year regarding their wish to have a lack of story throughout, it makes sense — even if it does feel slightly off-base. When jumping from a race in the forest to one in the mountains, the lack of cohesion can feel a little disconcerting, and this dissonance is also evident in other aspects of Hot Pursuit. We’ll get to that a little bit later.

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Hands on Preview

Of course, the most important thing in any racing game is the feel of the cars. If they don’t handle well, then any possible enjoyment that could be derived from the game is lost immediately. Fortunately for those eagerly anticipating Hot Pursuit, the cars don’t simply handle well, they handle beautifully. Controlling the ‘Racer’ vehicles feels akin to watching a performance of Swan Lake, live on stage — the cars don’t just drive, they glide, float and dance along the roads. Each car also feels incredibly fast, regardless of its actual top speed — from the very first car in the ‘Sports’ category, all the way to the last car in the ‘Hyper’ category, each feels like you’re taming an incredible beast. Weaving in and out of oncoming traffic at unbelievable speeds feels instinctual, and contrasts neatly to the ‘Cop’ cars. They, too, feel instinctual, but for entirely different reasons.

The ‘Cop’ cars feel primeval and aggressive — a far cry from the dainty ‘Racers’. With a deep, weighty feel to each car, crashing into the ‘Racers’ has an incredibly visceral feel unseen in most racing games. When chasing down a ‘Racer’ in a ‘Hot Pursuit’ mission, it can almost feel like a school bully picking on the clever kid. Pushing, shoving, hitting… it’s all par for the course. When controlling the clever kid however, things take on a more innocent, playful charm. With a quick EMP to the Bully’s face, a Spike Strip to the rear and a Turbo Boost out of the situation, Hot Pursuit‘s blend of charm, wit, and a feeling of ‘Bad Ass’-ness is utterly delightful.

It’s a lengthy game, too. Clocking in at around 16 hours — not including countless hours that can be spent playing the multiplayer game — it’s hard to deny that Criterion and DICE have created an utterly massive world, full of perfectly designed roads for you tear through. The only real downside is that it’s likely you’ll only play each race once during the campaign, simply because Hot Pursuit is an amazingly easy title. I don’t consider myself an expert at racing games, but I managed to complete the majority of the game’s races on the first go — all with a Gold Medal / Distinction. While there are incentives to go back and play through levels again and again — such as Autolog, which is discussed later in the review — there’s sometimes a feeling of ‘Why bother?’, especially during the latter stages of the game, where the races can last over five minutes.

Seacrest County Map Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Small

At four times the size of Paradise City, the renowned play area from Burnout Paradise, Hot Pursuit‘s Seacrest County is huge. From sandy deserts to snow-peaked mountain-tops, and from sunny beaches to shrouded forests, Seacrest County is an impeccable achievement and thoroughly enjoyable to explore. However, this is where Need for Speed Hot Pursuit begins to show its flaws. As mentioned earlier, it’s the game’s lack of cohesion that lets it down. While every race may take place in Seacrest County, it’s a fact that never bears any real effect on your playing experience. Occasionally you might think, “Oh, I remember that shortcut from a race I completed a while ago,” and yet, while it has a momentary ‘Oh!’ surprise value, it still feels disconnected.

Then there’s the completely unnecessary free-roam mode. Whereas Paradise City felt like a living, breathing city with subtle intricacies to be found around every corner, Seacrest feels like a number of awesome roads held together by great-gameplay-glue, with less else to say. Despite the ability to enter the County from any starting area, there are no missions, no gameplay objectives, and no real fun to be had when driving around. Sure, scoping out potential shortcuts and enjoying a brand new Beugatti Veyron are enjoyable and productive experiences, but apart from that it feels like a wasted opportunity.

Hot Pursuit cracks further when listening to the in-game soundtrack. Once again feeling disconnected from the overall message of Hot Pursuit, it feels like Criterion was told, “Here are the songs we can get licenses for. Pick and choose, enjoy.” Filled with atrocious music that lacks any ‘High-Speed-Pursuit’ mentality, Hot Pursuit‘s soundtrack only shines when you turn down the in-game music, and let the sounds of your car engine envelope your playing space. Despite not being a fan of cars, I found the roar of the engines to be positively thrilling — the primal ferocity coupled with the cutesy charm within each accelerated boost sounds utterly phenomenal, and will leave you with a excess energy that lasts long after you turn off your game system.

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Autolog Feature

The key jewel in Hot Pursuit‘s crown is the previously-mentioned Autolog feature. Acting like the Facebook of the Need for Speed world, Autolog updates automatically to let you know what your friends are up to in Seacrest County. Unlike Blur‘s reliance on real-life social networks Twitter and Facebook, Autolog is fully integrated in Hot Pursuit. Friend holding the top score? Tap RT and attempt to beat his. Just had an awesome crash? Take a picture and post it to the Autolog wall. Set an incredible time on a ridiculously difficult track? Post a comment for any friend to view. When every social feature is just a few button presses away, social gaming has never felt more integrated into the experience.

Staying on the topic of social gaming, it should come as no surprise that Hot Pursuit‘s online mode is terrific fun to play. Mimicking the single-player campaign, the multiplayer offers three distinct modes: straight-up races between the ‘Racers’, ‘Cop’ vs ‘Racer’ experiences in the ‘Hot Pursuit’ missions, and one-on-one ‘Interceptor’ challenges. Each feels unique and enjoyable to play — however, it can become incredibly unbalanced when one player has unlocked every ‘Hyper’ car and is racing at speeds upwards of 250 mph, while the rest of the players have to make do with their slower alternatives. For more information on the multiplayer modes, check out our hands-on impressions here.

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Police

If there’s one thing you take away from this review, it should be this: every flaw mentioned, every negative point in this review, every aspect that doesn’t seem as polished as the rest of the game… they can’t destroy an otherwise brilliant arcade racer. The incredible speed, the perfect handling, and the brilliant track design all add up to an experience that far surpasses any racing game you’ve ever played. If you’re at all unsure about picking up Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, don’t be. You won’t regret it.

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit is available now on Xbox 360, PS3, PC and Wii. See you in Seacrest, Officer.

Our Rating:

4.5 out of 5

TAGS: Criterion Games, DICE, Electronic Arts, Need for Speed, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, PC, PS3, Wii


Post a Comment

  1. Need for Speed actually has a good game?

    • Who would’ve thought it, right?

  2. Great review, Phillipe! The game sounds awesomely fun – definitely among my “Christmas List” titles.

  3. Summed up how I thought the game would go. Probably going to be a pass.

    • I don’t get it. So it’s good, and thus you’ll pass? o.0

  4. LOL, there was a time when NFS DEFINED the racing games. The golden era of NFS.
    NFS 2
    NFS3 HP
    NFS4 High Stakes
    NFS HP2
    NFS:MW was a worthy title carrying NFS tag

    NFS Shift was an attempt to go back to the roots. I thing NFS:HP 2010 marks the return of the arcade king.

  5. This is the worst needforspeed game ever!!! They get worst every year!!! Don’t waste your money on the crap

    • It’s usually more productive to backup your claims with reasons. We just read a well written and detailed review on why it is good. So, where is your well written and detailed review on why it isn’t?

      • Thanks for the compliment, Knyte!

  6. I was expecting it to be a series of disconnected races with no incentive to do anything but churn through them. Thus the pass.

  7. I was interested in this game but you sold me on it, Phillipe. Great review and I’m definitely gonna pick this up when I get a chance.

  8. Biased review. They all are these days. Game is great, but the most important aspects suck. Reviewer obviously doesn’t play many racing games as he thinks the handling is anything close to good. You tell me why 0.8 second delay on steering, is good. Get back to me.

    5.0/10 for me. I’ve played every semi descent racer since 2000 and this game is among the most disappointing Ive ever had. It will piss you off.

    • Every single reviewer is biased in some way. All bias is is an opinion. Yes, I enjoyed Burnout Paradise, and have enjoyed Criterion’s work in the past. Did that color my view of this game? No. I went into Hot Pursuit hoping for a fun title (who doesn’t?) and I came away extremely pleased.

      I don’t know where you got this .8 second delay from, I honestly don’t. As I mentioned in the review, and in the preview a couple weeks back, every car handled exactly like it felt it should. They’re like beasts that need taming.

      Also, can I ask, why will it piss you off? I believe the main negative feature of this game is its relative easiness. That’s a little grating, I agree, but there’s nothing apart from that that annoyed me so.

      • “I believe the main negative feature of this game is its relative easiness.”

        Your statement is an obvious hint that you haven’t completed the entire game while also achieving a Gold rank on each event.
        b******* speeds from rubber-band opponents that hurtle their cars past you and the finish line despite the fact that you had a 5 second lead AND used turbo boosting? Full-on collisions at 250 mph (aided by Nitro) that decimate a cop vehicle on one level but not another? How about a hit to a cop car that sends it swerving into the wall, only to have it respawn a mile ahead of you? None of this is sufficient to piss you off? You must have the patience and compassion of Gandhi.

        And, oh, the 43-mile race? Anything but easy with the aforementioned aspects of gameplay.

        It’s not a horrendous game, no, and I am very much a fan of Burnout Paradise and Criterion’s work, but it’s certainly not the beautiful, fairytale delight you make it out to be.

        I care little about playing online and comparing times, so once I’ve reached the highest ranks for Racer and Cop – just three levels away,phew! – I’m never touching this game again.

        • If you like, after I’ve finished work today, I shall take a picture of my game screen and show you that I have every Gold, every Distinction, raced in every car, acheived every single player ‘achievement’ etc.

          The aforementioned 43 mile race was unfortunately far too easy. I took it as meaning that Criterion didn’t want people to lose so that they would have to replay the entire 13 1/2 minutes of the race, seeing as I finished over 30seconds ahead of second place.

          I honestly have not had the same problems as you. The rubber-banding I found (most of the time) was effective and kept you ‘in the race’ if you fell behind, and made the game interesting.

          I honestly don’t regard myself as a skilled racing game player — perhaps I am, and am viewing this from the perspective of someone who happened to excel at this particular game. That being said, my opinion is still entirely valid for my demographic, as I simply wouldn’t lie during a review. As a reviewer, I’m supposed to help people weed out good and bad games, not lull them into spending £40 on a duff game.

          • Do it the easy way – share your gamertag and/or PSN ID – and I’ll check myself.

  9. No storyline no tuneups no upgrades and cars handle like s***! this aint need for speed its burnout dressed up to decieve. This game is so annoying, might be better than shift but its defo crap and nothing like the need for speed fans fell in love with, totall waste of money

  10. “No storyline, no tuneups, no upgrades…”

    You just described Need For Speed: 1, 2, 3, High Stakes, Porsche Unleashed, and Hot Pursuit 2.

    So, yeah.. It is Need For Speed.

  11. True but im sure all u mentioned dint have the burnout engine and they all handled better than this making them the good games they where so no its not NFS any fan will tell u that, go look at the sales

    • Sales do not dictate a game’s quality. Okami is a fantastic game that undersold to a criminal extent.

      Also, I don’t believe Hot Pursuit’s figures are out yet, so we’ll wait and see.

  12. I personally love this game. It’s basically burnout paradise, played like need for speed modes, and a way more directed experience. Basically exactly as much story or progression I want from a racing game.

  13. This game has awesome graphics, beautiful cars, but that’s about all. The game is just upgraded Burnout Paradise with cops, real cars and no story at all, for 39.99$. I have Burnout Paradise too, and have to admit that Burnout is much more fun, for not even 10$.

  14. I need explanation, how AI can in 2sec make gap of 15sec in strait line, if I on max speed + turbo ? ? ?

  15. this game is b******* cars handle like bricks computer cars take turns that are impossible . Got a bronze metal in one race beat my time by 20 seconds and finished 6th the last race in game is a joke 43 miles the car goes critical damage 2 miles before finish line you in second place your get rear ended 10 ft before finish line and get wrecked tried Thirty times to finish race same thing wrecked by driver from behind you just before finish line . I call that b******* If this game was black jack the dealer would have black jack nine out of ten hands. This game has ruined the nfs series for me .

  16. Skeptic, King, keith, and janis all have it right. dont waste your money ppl

  17. Gran Turismo 5 put me to sleep. This game however, did not. Definitely one of the best racing games I’ve ever played. Simulation racing just isn’t as fun anymore.

  18. Honestly, this game is absolute CRAP.

    Let me list why.

    I’ve been playing this game ever since it came out — And it is certainly over rated.

    Granted; it makes me love the car i drive that i believe is the underdog; I,e Escaping from a Bugatti Veyron SS interceptor in my McLaren F1, all the odds are against me — but i pull it off.

    However, it’s not in any way at all Realistic. Well, graphics aside.

    Let me just cut to the chase and make a list of errors i encounter, and so do many others

    1.All cars have the same plausible top speed. Yes, even an apollo Gumpert can reach 260MPH, through the use of Nitro. Even though its actually 220 or so. – This has to be done, otherwise, this Underdog feeling? would be simply begin to erase from our minds– just while a Veyron doing 250+ Absolutely Destroys our Bumper.

    (this is done for fairness, it won’t be right to use a Gumpert apollo on any occasion due to its very slow top speed, in comparison to its other hypercar rivals, so they have to buff it up unrealistically to give it Somewhat of a chance)

    Meaning; All this game actually does is take your Knowledge of a car (like you think a Mclaren f1 can’t outrun a veyron) Which it can’t — BUT in THIS game. It can. Which is simply unrealistic. It takes YOUR knowledge of cars, and changes it to make you actually outrun Pretty much anything.

    2.Autolog & Online Lobby system. Okay, when i decide to enter a lobby, it will say ‘Finding players’ Repetitively. Now, this is okay, However, it will often take up to 20-60 seconds before it joins an Empty lobby. — Basically wasting time. And theres no Lobby settings or anything. It will try and find players — If it doesn’t, it’ll join a empty lobby anyway, after making you wait about a minute! Why not invent a options list to ONLY join Lobbies with people in it — If no players are found, Try again & keep trying until you Do. as opposed to joining an empty one and making me start ALL OVER.

    also, Autolog Cuts off at most times. I have a GREAT internet connection. However; that doesn’t stop it from interrupting my Fun every once in a
    while. By the time i DO find a lobby with 1 or more person In it, *autolog has lost connection* or something along the lines of that will pop up on my screen. And sometimes *on ps3 verison* IT’LL Even say i’m NOT signed into PSN, when i am! Though autolog is a great concept, its overall execution is quite frankly — Poor.

    Also mentioning; If your car has crashed, and you get the cutscene, you can still be hit by a spike strip. I’ve often played online, and after i crash, some guy always speeds up, and just before he overtakes my lifeless car, he deploys a spikestrip and some how registers damage?

    Why isn’t there a certain speed limit to which my tyres will be effected by a spike strip?

    SURELY if my car Veyron SS Tyres Can handle travelling at 260+ MPH for endless amounts of time, AND SURVIVE a 260MPH HEAD ON CRASH WITH A TRUCK AND CARRY ON DRIVING, it can handle a spike strip at 0 F*CKING MPH?

    also, Online lag is another issue. Like BF3 you don’t notice yourself Lag, you can see others lag — But not yourself. But, there are ways lag effects the game for the MUCH worse.

    I,e i’m being chased by a cop, He has deployed his EMP on me, — Since i know he’ll ram me if i start slowing down, and with no shortcuts, i decide to use my Jammer!

    But, as i press My jammer button, It actually took 15 Seconds to activate it. — Because of the lag; it slows down the registering time of when i actually Pressed the button to start the Jammer. and as a result, i was emped anyway. — Even on some occasions i DEPLOY my Jammer in time, BUT im still getting targeted by an EMP and HIT WHILST My JAMMER IS ACTIVE?

    So online lag reduces button response times.

    Thirdly, The Physics system.

    Lets pretend, you are Driving head on with a veyron, in your Koneigsegg,

    and you both collide.

    The one who is going faster *even 1 mph faster* will Survive the impact and be able to continue driving. While the slightly Slower one will ‘Crash’ and have to wait 6 seconds before driving — Whilst suffering more damage.

    Point here is; why don’t they both crash? — Or get Wrecked for that matter. Surely, if i’m traveling 230 MPH in my F1, and i get pit manuvered by a Veyron, When i spin out, i should flip a few thousand times, absolutely get ANNIHILATED & WRECKED. Have you seen car crashes at 80-120 MPH? Theres such a high fatality rate, and cars are MANGLED BEYOND RECOGNITION . What the f*ck do you think should happen to a LIGHT car travelling at 230 when it spins out?

    A crash at 230 MPH is like falling off your bicycle.

    There’s also plenty of physic farts too. Sometimes i’ll fly in the air and backflip when i hit a roadblock too fast, which is fun, but when i see the car that i impacted in the roadblock, not even a dent in it.

    You may think i’m being nit-picky, but This game would be AMAZING if it had better physic systems, better cars, Better everything.

    I mean, When i crash at 200 MPH or so, i get that AWESOME cut scene, watching my car spin out and flip, stuff like that — Flying through the air at around 190 MPH suddenly brought to an abrupt halt by a lamppost.

    So, so far i’ve learned this game is COMPLETELY Unrealistic, The physic system is a JOKE, the cars Look & sound realisitc, but they perform Completely DIFFERENT comparing to the real ones, It’s got very odd loading times, sometimes taking 12 seconds to load the main menu, or sometimes taking 30? Autolog is a Laggy Mess, with a hideous lack of controlling options for it.

    It takes years to find an online match.

    And when you do; you better pray to your god that it isn’t a laggy one. otherwise, Try and have fun with that.


    This game is a great amazing AWESOME concept of an idea

    Its execution is Incredibly bad.

    The cars are great sounding and looking

    They have COMPLETELY unrealistic performance and braking.

    The overall game has a Horrible online engine system.

    The overall game has a very hilarious and pathetic Physic system.

    The NPC cars are very unrealistic, look horrible, sound horrible, and don’t respond to police sirens either — nor follow speed limits on the road.

    While i agree that simulation racing is not as fun as it is, i do think we need to combine NFS with gran turismo.

    Persay, Fast, Realistic Cars, Realistic graphics, Realistic Physics, Realistic Handling, Realistic EVERYTHING — While being on the streets of a city or country; being chased by Amazing high-end Hyper/super POLICE cars.

    I’d say that this game overall is amazingly Amazingly AMAZINLGY FUN. And i still play it no matter what.

    However, the FUN is honestly undermined by the vast amount of problems this game has, and its actual physic system….At times, when i’m driving down a motorway in the game in my F1 maxing it out, listening to my engine, while i ZOOM past traffic; i often do think this game is a real driving game. A realistic bad ass game.

    But when i crash into the central barrier, and go instantly from 234 to 0 without any significant damage to the thing i hit; and with just a shattered windscreen, i can still drive off and continue.

    Thats when i realise, that this game isn’t realistic, it’s an arcade racing game, not meant for realism — But maybe, they’ve lost too much realism?


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