Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit was actually one of the first games I bought for the Xbox 360. Admittedly, my console is rather neglected but I did remember enjoying the game immensely. Unfortunately the game doesn’t seem to cooperate with my Xbox anymore so I ended up buying a new copy for the PC instead.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit takes place in the fictional Seacrest County, with over 100 miles (160 km) of open road for players to race on. So it could be considered open-world in a loose sense as you are able to take shortcuts when you are able too, but constrained to the race route. Unless you are in free-drive mode then you can drive wherever you please.There are two career modes that the player has access to: racers & cops. Both career modes have their own unique set of cars and equipment. Cops have access to stronger vehicles (good for taking down illegal racers in their lightweight cars) while the racers have faster cars (good for eluding cops who aim to shut them down).
The option to be able to play as both an illegal racer and cops brings both variation and variety to the action of the game.
In the racers career mode, you are not rewarded for doing stunts or crashing in a spectacular manner. Rather, you are rewarded for driving dangerously and taking down your opponents (and chasers) by any means necessary. In cops (SCPD), you are rewarded for how quick you are able to shut down the race, number of racers you taken down and your driving/pursuit skills. Along with that, you do get access to different equipment for each side. While both cops and racers get access to EMP and spike strips (along with a nitro system), the similarities end there.
Cops have access to call up road blocks and helicopter assistance. The racers have access to EMP jammers and turbo. Think turbo as a super-charged version of nitro. There are a total of 3 tiers for the equipment if I remember correctly. You have a limited number of each equipment as well, so consider your options before using them. However, you cannot rely on brute force alone since both racers and cop vehicles can take a far amount of damage before becoming wrecked.
As I mentioned before, there are shortcuts that you can choose from if you wish to stray away from the roads of Seacrest County. However, not all shortcuts are helpful. Another feature added is slow-motions shots if you wreck your car or when you take down an opponent. While the AI does a fair job in controlling your car for you during the slow-motion sequence, sometimes it returns control to you at a terrible moment (i.e. about to crash into another car) or allows you to dodge a road-block or spike strip. The camera switching though is a little to abrupt. A nice touch to the high-speed chases, even if it is not necessarily needed. I admit I might have used those slow-motion scenes to either dodge a road block barrier (thus preventing myself from being wrecked) or to see where all the opponents/chasers were in comparison to my place.
Although you are limited to the Seacrest County, you do get variations from your races/events so you do not become bored easily. The list below is all the potential events you can join (single-player). I think all the events total to about 70 split between Racers and the SCPD career modes.
- Race – 8 racers in total in the race to finish the track first. You need to be within the first 3 racers that finish the race, to unlock other events. You can still wreck your car before the race is finished by being taken down by other players or crashing
- Duel – 2 racers (you vs the A.I) race each other off in specific vehicles. Main goal is to finish first obviously, but even if you finish second place you will unlock the other events
- Hot Pursuit – 5 racers involved, racing from point A to point B with the SCPD on your tails. You will have to dodge both your fellow racers and SCPD’s countermeasures in the race to the finish. If your car becomes wrecked, you lose the race. You have access to your own counter-measures
- Gauntlet – Race quickly as possible from point A to point B while dealing with the SCPD on your own. You will have access to your own counter-measures.
- Time Trial/Preview – Race from point A to B within a certain amount of time in the specified vehicle made available to you.
- Interceptor – It is up to you to bust a racer within a set time limit, you have access to your equipment. Use all means to bust the racer as quickly as possible. Do not forget you will also have to dodge the racer’s own counter-measures, and prevent your vehicle from being wrecked. If the racer gets too far ahead of you, you have 30 seconds to bring him back in your range before it is considered he has escaped.
- Hot Pursuit – Shut down an illegal race that is going on before the racers reach their finishing point. You will need to bust down a minimum amount of racers to win a bronze medal, but typically you have enough time to bust most if not all the racers. You have access to your equipment
- Rapid Response/Preview – Move quickly from point A to point B within a certain amount of time. You are given a specific vehicle to race in. In rapid response, you also need to avoid collision as you incur a penalty for each collision which affects your finishing time. Not meeting the bronze time limit, fails the event as the racer would have escaped by then. Wrecking the car fails the event. In preview, you just need to reach point A to point B quickly.
In multiplayer, you have access to the following three events: race, hot pursuit and interceptor.
Most cars have their own health bar so you can see how much damage your fellow racers (and pursuers) have incurred, as well as your own vehicle. It is important to keep an eye on it, as it may mean the difference to finishing an event or having a wrecked vehicle. Thus failing an event.
I used the controller since it was much easier compared to using the keyboard. The handling is extremely smooth, the game feels immensely responsive to the controls. Controls are rather intuitive as well: D-pad for equipment, A for nitro, right trigger for acceleration, left trigger for brake/reverse and so forth.
The frame-rate was exceedingly smooth as well. The attention to detail for the environments was fantastic, even how the weather affects the roads. The only sad part is the limited sound-track.
The game also benefits from the amazing AI system, making the AI-controlled opponents in single-player to be a challenging and unpredictable. They will not hesitate to use their counter-measures and are fairly aggressive (especially for the SCPD). AI-racers will take shortcuts but not often. I actually had a lot of trouble in the SCPD career mode chasing down the last two AI-controlled racers since not only did they make great use of the counter-measures and shortcuts…they also did not hesitate to completely turn around and drive in the other direction. I became quite frustrated as a result, I freely admit that.
Speaking of shortcuts, most shortcuts are off-road so you will want to consider that while choosing your car. Most cars are not really affected by the off-roading but if you are in an exotic car…you are better off staying on the asphalt. As I mentioned earlier, not all shortcuts are effective either.
As you finish these events, you collect bounty points. Your bounty points is not only for show and bragging rights. They also unlock new cars when you reach certain milestones and upgrades to your counter-measures. Cars for both racers and SCPD are divided into 5 ‘classes’ based on their performance.
There is an feature called Autolog but it becomes redundant if you do not have friends to compete with. It is said to be like the “Facebook” for NFS: Hot Pursuit. Your friends have to be active to register their finishing times and what not. It would been nicer if it showed something like a global leaderboard to see how you fared against others around the world. Since I played this in single-player, the autolog feature was useless to me other than serving as a way to save my progress.
I can see this being an enjoyable party game among friends. I honestly didn’t think this game was too bad, I enjoyed the various events and in particular: the free-drive option since it was quite relaxing to cruise around Seacrest County. I do know others will say that this did not meet the expectations of the other Need for Speed titles but in all honesty, I feel that Hot Pursuit (2010) was a pretty decent game and entry to the other Need for Speed titles.