Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 - GC - Review

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 is the latest installment of Electronic Arts’ long running Need for Speed series.  Released four years after the first Hot Pursuit, this version boasts several different modes of play, 20 different exotic cars, enormous tracks and enjoyable arcade style racing.  However, the game is mired by several major problems that keep the game from living up to its full potential.  Although it has its problems, Hot Pursuit 2 is still a pretty decent arcade racing game.

With a name like “Hot Pursuit”, it’s safe to assume that Hot Pursuit 2 will have its fair share of cops chasing you.  The main single player mode (called Hot Pursuit, strangely) consists of 33 different levels in which you must win different types of races in order to proceed, all the while being chased by the police.  The police have various methods employed with which to stop you, ranging from setting up roadblocks to ramming you off the road to having police helicopters drop fiery barrels in your way.  There is also a mode that lets you be the cop, pull over speeders and try to give out as many tickets as you can in the time frame.  If running from the law (or being the law) isn’t quite your thing, Hot Pursuit 2 offers a Championship mode that is pure arcade racing with no cops.

This is above all an arcade racer, so anyone expecting Gran Turismo on the GameCube will be sorely mistaken.  The game doesn’t have a very accurate physics model, nor do I believe it was meant to be.  It’s just fun, simple racing.  The game’s plethora of levels, game modes, and exotic cars to unlock is sure to impress anyone, although the game does have some serious gameplay issues.  The game moves at a very sluggish pace due in part to the bulky handling of the cars. The cars lack an overall feeling of speed, as they handle the same at any velocity.

The graphics are both a hit and a miss.  The car models are beautifully detailed, with great reflection effects and accurate designs.  The game also features some impressive water and sun effects, though it is quite obvious that the most attention was paid to the outstanding vehicles.  However, the track textures lack much detail, and the game suffers from some pretty nasty draw-in distances.  Also, the frame rates are atrocious.  The game experiences some pretty bad frame drop-offs, especially when the on-screen action gets really intense.  This really detracts from the experience, since you would expect a racing game to move at a smooth, fast pace, which Hot Pursuit 2 does not.

The sound is one of the games better points.  The soundtrack contains an impressive mix of rock, alternative and techno music, courtesy of such artists as Bush, Course of Nature, Uncle Kracker and Rush.  The engine sounds are also good, as each car has its own distinctive roar and the police radio banter is a nice touch as well as a necessary tool to avoid cops.

If you can look past the game’s flaws, you will find Hot Pursuit 2 to be a very entertaining racing experience with a great deal of features and exotic cars.  However, there are those of us who won’t be able to see past the sluggish pace and horrible frame rate.  Therefore, I suggest a rental before a purchase for Hot Pursuit 2.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

 

Gameplay: 7.3
Hot Pursuit 2 has a great deal of highly original play modes, and the presence of police utilizes a gameplay aspect not often used in racing games.  The sizes of the tracks are also quite notable, as is the number of cars with which to race.  However, the controls are quite floaty and the cars handle quite sluggishly, detracting a lot from the feel of the game.

 

Graphics: 7.0
While the game has some beautifully accurate car models and nice lighting effects, the lagging frame rate and sub par track textures make the overall look very unsatisfactory.

 

Sound: 8.0
The sound is done fairly well.  The soundtrack is a nice mix of rock and techno, featuring big name artists.  The engine sounds are also fairly accurate, and the cop talk is great.

 

Difficulty: Medium

 

Concept: 8.0
Hot Pursuit 2 has some very good ideas that actually get put into practice with positive results.  The concept of racing while dealing with the fuzz on your back is indeed a novel one.  Also, the sheer number of cars and tracks is quite enticing to racing fans.

 

Multiplayer: 7.5
The game features several two-player game modes, ranging from standard racing to the always fun Be A Cop mode. 

 

Overall: 7.5
Hot Pursuit 2 has a lot of great features and a really cool concept.  However, the game lacks one essential factor for a good racing game: speed.  The sluggish pace may be a bit too much for gamers who need a fast and furious racing game, but those with the patience to get past the speed issue will find a good arcade-style racer with some great ideas.

 

Good

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