reviews\ Oct 31, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 - PC - Review

As you wrap your hands on the steering wheel, you can feel the metal beast trembling.  Suddenly the other racers around you come to life and you slam your foot on the pedal, making your own racer dart out into the open road at top speed.  From behind you comes the police in their equally fast and sophisticated vehicles, their only intent is to stop this illegal race no matter what.  In Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, all you can do is strap on your seat belt and gun it--this is one wild race.


Like in the first Need for Speed, you have a slew of fast cars at your disposal from the sleek and sexy Dodge Viper GTS to the fast and furious Ferrari 360 Spider.  And again, the basic objective is to elude police cars that are trying to put an end to the race or you can do the chasing as the police (complete with spike strips, road blocks and helicopter support).  The emphasis is on speed and quick reflexes as you race to win while trying not to get rammed off the road.


There are five different ways of playing the game: Hot Pursuit, Championship, Single Challenge, Quick Race and Multiplayer.  Quick Race takes gamers directly into the racing action whole Hot Pursuit is a more orderly game mode that takes you through a list of thirty-three challenges while eluding the police to gain the Ultimate Road Racer title.  Championship is similar, only here there is no police interference.  Single Challenge is a customizable game mode where you can design the race with or with police interference and the number of racing opponents.  And Multiplayer is an Internet or LAN multiplayer mode where there are no computer-controlled opponents, just players either friends or just fellow gamers from all over.


First of all it should be noted to those gamers that have played either the Xbox or PS2 version that the controls are not as smooth or as gratifyingly responsive in this version of the game.  The PC version skips and occasionally freezes for fractions of a few seconds even on fast machines so don’t expect such a smooth ride all the way through a race, especially when you find yourself smashing up against three or four racers during the race.  Secondly, this game was definitely not meant to be played with a keyboard so it is a good idea to play this one with a controller.


The driving action in Hot Pursuit doesn’t just come from trying to establish your place in the race but also to keep from being stopped by the police or crashing into oncoming traffic.  The cops aren’t driving clunky vehicles in this game; they drive equally fast cars that can give you and the other racers quite a chase.  And if they can’t catch up to you, they call for assistance.  The help comes in the form of backup vehicles or even roadblocks and even spike strips that can pop out all your tires.  Their last resort is a helicopter that really gives chase and, to top things off, the helicopter tosses a few smoking barrels down at you.


Aside from quick reflexes, you’ll need a sharp eye and learn how to ram another driver off the road.  There are a number of ways you can escape the cops and one of them is using the surroundings.  There are shortcuts galore and alternate paths you can use to avoid the spike strips or roadblocks.  There are even ways to get the cops to leave you alone and chase your opponent instead.


Unfortunately, this is not the best looking version either.  The graphics, depending on your graphics card and the resolution and detail setting you choose, are still nice to look at but no where as nearly as gorgeous as the graphics seen on the consoles.  There is still plenty of eye-catching details found in the surroundings such as the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean or the thick bark of the trees of the national forest.  The cars are also nicely detailed but are still rather plain compared to other versions.


The sound is still very much intact with some great tunes by well-known artists such as Bush, Rush or Uncle Kracker. The music plays through the game in music video fashion (e.g. at the start of each song, the name of the artist and song title appears on the lower left-hand corner).  Sound effects-wise, there is a lot of screeching tires and the grinding of metal as you scrap the car against a wall, but the best part is the sounds of the police communicating over radio and the helicopter’s propellers overhead.


Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 for the PC is not the best version of this really great game, but it still has enough racing action to be top of its class.  With okay graphics and a few stutters and bumps along the way, there is plenty of racing modes and an option to play with other gamers using internet that makes this a worthwhile game for PC gamers.



#Reviewer's Scoring Details


Gameplay: 7.4
The controls are simple enough to master since all you really do is accelerate, break and steer.  You can play the game using the keyboard but I highly recommend the use of a controller since the keyboard leaves little room for more precise maneuvers . . . it’s also tiresome on the fingers since the races are intense and fast.


Graphics: 7.3
While still good-looking, the game lacks the high details of the other versions of the game.  The car damage, for example, is more noticed in the PS2 and Xbox versions than in the PC version.  Still, what is seen here is still pleasant to look at.  The environments, for example, are still filled with so many details that gamers will admire the lush wine country and the quaint European villages.  Overhead, a hot air balloon can be seen in the crystal clear skies and schooners bounce with the waves of the sea.


The cars, which are suppose to be both impressive and exotic looking is sadly not so high in detail here.  You can still make out the models just by looking at them but the textures on them are not smooth enough to make them as gorgeous as they should be.  The special effects are downplayed as well but there is still plenty to keep gamers happy.  Its good to see the skid marks left behind by your car or the destruction you leave in your path such as downed road signs and other interactive objects that get in your way.


Sound: 7.9
Nothing is more satisfying to race fans and car lovers alike than the sound of a turbo charged engine being revved up and suddenly peeling out.  The same can be said the skidding tires as a vehicle makes a sharp turn.  You’ll hear the cops talk through radio, giving you a heads up on whether they’ll stop a pursuit, call for backup or ask to set up a roadblock.  Need for Speed also has a nice collection of songs by artists such as Uncle Kracker or Hot Action Cop that are really good.  


Difficulty: Medium
The opponent AI is a lot more responsive and whether it’s another racer or the police.  You’ll find yourself really trying hard to outwit other racers who are also good at nudging you aside even in the Beginner difficulty setting.  Outsmarting the cops also requires you to work hard; it’s takes more than just slamming them to get rid of them.  The games does give you enough ways to keep the police at bay and you can find ways to escape the spike strips or use the shortcuts to avoid the roadblocks. You also have to put up with traffic that happens to always get in the way.


Concept: 8.0
Aside from the racing-to-win aspect of the game, adding a sharp-thinking and fast police chase elements make this one intense driving game.  The most satisfying part is the fact that you can even switch roles and become the law.  This is a game that also features plenty of hot licensed cars and the chance to unlock more (as well as unlock new tracks).


Multiplayer: 8.0
This are where the game really excels since this is hardly your average racer.  Through the Internet or using a LAN connection, you can go up against seven other racers and play through a couple of multiplayer modes similar to those seen in Single Race and the Lap Knock races.  You can just as easily play a private game with a select group of friends or play against a whole new crowd of racers through’s public internet game set up.  It really doesn’t get any better than this.


Overall: 7.7
If you’re looking for some fast and furious racing action then Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 has all the things you need despite some serious faults.  Gamers that have played both the PS2 and Xbox version will not find the same level of depth as in those games but what you’ll find here is still fun enough.


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