If last year's Need for Speed: Shift rekindled the long-running racing franchise, then Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is a full-on resurrection. Criterion, master of the arcade racer as attested by the Burnout games, have been given the keys to EA's series, and the results are incredible – an artful blend of the old and the new, it manages to acknowledge Need for Speed's glorious past while mixing in an inspired level of connectivity.
There's a love of the classic Need for Speeds that's apparent as soon as the demo begins – two Lamborghinis play a lethally fast game of cat and mouse, a Murcielago tailed by a Reventon decked out in black and white cop colours and their pursuit taking them through the verdant Pacific Midwestern roads of the fictional Seacrest County, lined with big firs under a clean blue sky. It's the joy and unfettered beauty of the open road as so wonderfully embodied by the 1994 3DO original, and it's being torn apart by the kind of high speed chase that was a feature of arguably the best instalment since, 2002's Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2.
True to Criterion's last effort, the hugely impressive Burnout Paradise, Need for Speed Hot: Pursuit is an open world racer – but this world is much more expansive, taking in 100s of miles of road. There are two sides to take – the cops and the suspects, both of which feed in to a selection of game modes. The only one on display today, however, is Interceptor, taking in the game of cat and mouse that took centre stage at EA's conference.
The thrill of the chase is intoxicating within itself, thanks to an exhilarating sense of speed that's amplified by a rechargeable nitrous boost and some sublime handling. It's initially galling, especially to anyone schooled in Burnout's own unique model, and is much weightier than Criterion's past games. The low-slung Lamborghinis soon reveal themselves to be a delight to throw around, swinging their plump posteriors around corners simple yet satisfying.
It runs deeper than that though, and there's a surprising level of nuance to the chase. The win states are self explanatory – for the chaser, it's about pummelling the suspect into submission, and for them it's just about getting away. Power-ups add strategy; the d-pad houses four of them, ranging from the cop deploying a helicopter to keep eyes on the suspect or calling in a road block to a radar jamming device that renders the mini-map useless and an EMP blast that temporarily immobilises the opponent.
Overlooking all of this is an XP system – here called Bounty – that informs the levelling system that runs through Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. It's topped up by familiar feats; driving into oncoming traffic, checking cars and maxing out the speedometer. Best of all, it's persistent both online and off.
And while the offline game will doubtless be comprehensive – although Criterion aren't showing too much of it just yet – it's online where Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit's focus is, and it's the Autolog that'll be its very heart. Autolog is Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit's very own social network, and while Bizarre's recent trailblazing in this area with Blur has stolen some of its thunder it's well thought out nevertheless.
What it has over its opposition is its dynamism – Autolog automatically pulls in data from friends, recommending challenges based on their activities, be that a recent hot race or time attack record smashed. It's even got its own Twitter-esque live feed where status updates and recent achievements mix with photos pulled in from both the real world and from the world of Seacrest County.
It's exciting stuff, and Criterion have managed to honour the series' heritage while acknowledging their own, and it's to Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit's credit that the only real frustration is that so little is being shown off right now. We'll be sure to bring you more between now and its November release.
|Страница создана: S1k0man, 18 июня 2010 г. 16:48|
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