EA Studios
Electronic Arts

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2

The racing series that began on the PS One makes its way to the Xbox. The Need for Speed series originally began as your basic racing game. The series really didn't begin to shine until the third game, which was Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit. Fast forward to 2002: new systems that are able to deliver an experience that the first few games only hinted at. The list of new features in NFS: HP2 are endless. Just to name a few: cars that most of us will only drive in our dreams (and on our Xbox), highly detailed environments, a realistic physics engine, Hot Pursuit mode, World Racing mode, and Jump and Zone Cams.


I'm really not too sure what happened here. With a system as powerful as the Xbox, this game could have been ten times faster. The graphics are beautiful on their own, but when in motion, it seems like their dragging when compared to other games like Project Gotham Racing and Burnout. In fact, the PS2 version of NFS: HP2 runs much faster than the Xbox version. Why EA Games decided not to take advantage of the Xbox is beyond me. Then again, it really doesn't considering that EA is notorious for taking shortcuts and porting games over to multiple systems. Other than the fact that the game could have ran much faster, everything else about the graphics is what you'd expect. The environments are extremely detailed and the cars look amazing. Speaking of the cars, you'll find such exotic cars like Lamborghini's, Porsche's, and Ferrari's. The courses themselves are huge and filled with shortcuts. The graphics are good, just don't expect to be blown away by them and you won't be disappointed.


In a game that features high-speed vehicles like these, the sound has to be of the highest quality to recreate the sense of speed that these cars are capable of performing. And Hot Pursuit does just that. Crank the volume on your stereo and you'll actually be able to feel the power of these racing cars as they rev their engines awaiting the start of a race. Aside from all the bells and whistles, the backbone of NFS: HP2's sound is an excellent soundtrack. Some of the artists featured in Hot Pursuit are Rush, Course of Nature, Uncle Kracker, and Bush. The music during gameplay really helps draw you into the game and gets your adrenaline pumping.


If I could describe the gameplay in Hot Pursuit in one word, that word would be "superb." All of the cars control very realistically. Head into a turn too quickly and you'll find yourself smacking into the wall. The game will let you choose from a number of different of control configurations. The setup I prefer is complete analog control. In this mode your left analog will control your steering while the right analog controls your gas and break a la Gran Turismo. Another choice you have for your cars is your transmission in which you can choose from automatic, semi-automatic, and manual. I prefer the semi-automatic because there will be points in the game where the action is too intense to worry about shifting. And then there are times in which having the power to manually shift is crucial. A couple another neat tricks are done with the camera. When cops are in pursuit, with the press of a button the camera will swoop around 360 degrees and give you an idea of exactly where the cops are. Or if the cops have setup a road block or a spike strip the camera will jump ahead of you to give you an idea of how to get around the obstacle. All in all, I don't have any complaints with the gameplay at all. After playing so many racing games over the years, I'm glad to see a game that lets you pick up and play with an easy learning curve. That's not to say that Hot Pursuit is an easy game. Some of the challenges will have you repeating them over countless times just to beat the allotted time given.


A true test of the game's overall value is its replay value. If the graphics aren't the best, or the sound isn't great, if the game keeps you coming back for more then it's all worth it. Thankfully, NFS: HP2 has great graphics, amazing sound, and excellent replay value. What helps Hot Pursuit's replay value are the insane number of play modes it offers. Need for Speed can just be your old fashioned racing game or you can up the ante by adding cops into the mix who will chase you relentlessly. If they can't stop you on their own, they will call for backup by having other cops setup roadblocks and spike strips. And if that doesn't stop you, a cop's last resort will be to call in the police helicopter. Those cops can be tough and you're having trouble getting away from them, the old saying goes "if you can't beat'em, join'em." One cool aspect of Hot Pursuit lets you play the role of a cop and chase down the speeding racers. You have all the previously mentioned ways to stop the speeding cars at your disposal. And like I've said before the action zips along at a decent speed, even if it's not as good as the PS2 version. After all is said and done, Need for Speed will keep you coming back for more in the long run.


After playing NFS: HP2 for a while, there really isn't much to complain about. The graphics are good and the sound kicks ass. The gameplay is top-notch and intense. The replay value can't be beat. The variety in play modes is grand. EA Games has made an excellent game that should not and will not go unnoticed. If only more developers could take the time to add more features and fine-tune the gameplay, we would never have to worry about buying crappy games anymore.

Bottom Line:

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 is a well designed game that belongs in everybody's videogame library. Stop reading this, go to the store, and go buy this game NOW!

-Rob Matos