Xbox 360 Review: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

Is this pursuit as hot as it sounds?

The Need for Speed franchise seems to be taking many different turns lately. One minute it’s a typical legit racer with SHIFT and then it turns back into an illegal street racer with Hot Pursuit. Luckily though, the latter is the most fun I’ve had racing this year…

NFS Hot Pursuit lets you either chase street racers in a police car, or evade the cops as a racer while trying to win the race. It’s a delicate balance of the Cat and Mouse formula that Criterion are famous for with Burnout. The funny thing is that the game does feel like a perfect blend of Need for Speed and Burnout…you can perform takedowns Burnout-style, while laying down traps for your pursuers like spikes and EMP.

Chasing the drivers as a cop is the better way to play, in my opinion. You get more items to help you shut down the race like calling in roadblocks, laying spikes down, ordering a helicopter to follow and place a trap for the incoming cars and finally, using EMP to disable the car altogether. But the tables become turned later on in the career when your enemies can easily lay down wide spikes and fire EMPs at you as well.

There are a number of variants of the modes to try. For example, one will have you just chasing one car to the end and another will ask you to take out 6+ cars before they escape. Each activity has a set goal which will earn you the highest accolade possible, known as Distinction. These are notoriously difficult to achieve and completionists will have to earn every single one for achievements.

You earn Bounty for all your events, which in turn will unlock upgrades, events and new cars to try out. It does throw them at you very fast and each car does take a while to get used to, but they all handle surprisingly well. The AI is also pretty impressive and will manage to dodge a number of your traps, while also changing their tactics on each replay. It would have been nice to have a rewind feature in the campaign, but that might have made things too easy.

Your scores are always uploaded to the servers and if you beat a friends time or score, you can post it on the Wall to rub their noses in it. You can also play online, which is highly addictive…but just be sure to have your Online Unlock Code with you or you might have to pay a fee to unlock it.

The game looks stunning and it’s incredibly satisfying to take out numerous cars on the course. The tracks look great and the cars are well detailed. The soundtrack is a mixed bag, but ultimately very catchy and engaging with the action.

The Verdict

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is a great game of Cat and Mouse, but with a twist. The hunted can become the hunter and your enemies have many tricks up their sleeves to evade you. It’s just pure fun and only Criterion could have pulled it off, I hope they make a sequel in the near future…

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