The team behind the fantastic Burnout Paradise, Criterion, is now developing the next game in the Need for Speed series. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is a reinvention of the previous Hot Pursuit game, and it brings a whole lot more to the cat-and-mouse gameplay. Once again, it's time to either chase or be chased.
The 25 or so minutes we had with the developers were a lot of fun. Criterion is a fantastic studio, and you can tell they have a great time making high-quality titles.
The first feature of the game they presented to us was the information packed main menu. It shows you recent accomplishments of your friends, and even recommends races for you to instantly hop into to beat a rival's time or score. There's also a facebook/twitter-like feed that shows even more information about you and your friends' progress.
The new title will feature for the first time, separate, full-featured, cop and racer careers. Instead of following a career that has a mix of races of each type, you can focus on one or the other. In the career modes you will gain Bounty, the game's version of experience, which unlocks new cars, among other things as you progress. A neat feature of the Bounty system is that it is persistent between your online and offline careers. So if you want to unlock a new car to use online, you don't actually have to play online to do so.
Featuring over 100 miles of open road, Hot Pursuit allows very entertaining, free-form chases to occur. The scenery shown was very reminiscent of the original game, and showed high-speed roads through a beautiful redwood forest. I really liked how the environment looked, and it definitely reminded me of the hours upon hours I spent with the original game on the PC.
Chases don't just consist of spike strips, roadblocks, and precise driving anymore. Those elements still exist, but both the cop and racers have more tricks up their sleeves. The cop can now call in air support and has an EMP ability that reverses the racer's controls for a period of time. The racer can make use of a radar jammer, which temporarily disables the cop's mini-map, a cloaking device that makes the car untraceable, as well as a decoy that fools the cop's mini-map into thinking that the racer has gone in a different direction. The racer also has an overdrive ability that gives them access to a huge speed boost.
Multiplayer will be handed in an interesting fashion. Though not much was said, we do know that up to eight players can race against each other, with no set cop vs. racer formula. You can race one cop vs. seven racers, or four cops vs. four racers. The choice is yours, and should keep a good amount of race-to-race variety. Also, being that the game is developed by Criterion, we should expect some great long-term support. Though they didn't say if it would be quite as much as Burnout Paradise, they did tell us to expect something similar.
I've included the E3 trailer below for your visual enjoyment.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit releases November 16, 2010 on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC