Car racing is a very popular genre of video games. Among other games, we find Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2, the sixth in the Need for Speed series, developed by EA Black Box and released in 2002 for PCs and consoles.
- Game concept
Unlike newer Need for Speed games, Hot Pursuit 2 doesn’t have a story to follow. The game feature two career modes, a single player, a multiplayer and a quick race mode.
Just like the title says, one of the main features is the police pursuit, which is well integrated in one of the careers. There are events where you swap sides of the law and stop some speeders. The other career doesn’t involve the police, so the races are a bit quieter. Nevertheless, I believe that being chased by police makes the game more challenging and more appealing, especially when helicopters come and throw explosive barrels on the road. Just a second of distraction and you’re busted!
Careers are divided in two branches, both connected at the beginning by a common race. Getting stuck on one path leaves us the possibility to try out the other path. In order to advance through both careers we have to win, at least, the bronze medal in each race.
It’s very important to say that in the single player mode not all tracks and all cars are available from the very beginning. They must be unlocked first. To do this, we must win races in the career modes and get points. This can sometimes be pretty irritating.
Still, if we choose to play in multiplayer, there are no limitations. We just have to grab our friends and play. Well…on different computers, that is, because unlike previous Need for Speed games – except Porsche Unleashed, Hot Pursuit 2 doesn’t have the split screen feature implemented. The game can only be played through LAN and through INTERNET. While it is fun, I actually miss the split screen mode.
The quick race is just what the title says. A car and track are randomly chosen, our only thing to do being driving.
As far as race types go, we are offered circuits, time trials, sprints, knockouts, tournaments, free runs – a good way to explore tracks and pursuit races, where you take the role of police and chase speeders.
Overall, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2 is based on a pretty complex concept, aimed to attract gamers of different ages and likings.
In my view, the actual gameplay is a strong point of Hot Pursuit 2. Cars and tracks customizations are simple and allow us to jump quickly to the race. There are no performance upgrades and the body of the car can only be customized as far as color goes. There are no vinyls and no custom paint jobs. Some people may see those things as drawbacks, but I believe that they give the game more character. Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2 feels like a gentlemen race game, where passionate people about cars, are racing in their free time just for fun. I would have liked, however, to be able to control weather conditions.
Getting to car handling, I can say that this is a massive improvement over the game before it, Porsche Unleashed. The cars feel sharp through corners, the brakes are efficient and the acceleration is realistic. There is less likely to lose control since the cars feel like cars and not like sleighs. I would say that handling is even better than in some of more recent games. On top of that, crashes don’t total your car.
On the graphical side, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2 doesn’t disappoint. The menus are well organized and the H.U.D. is helpful, not confusing. The cars are well modeled as well as the tracks. The scenery we see while racing is spectacular and makes us want to see more. One thing that I miss is winter. Nevertheless, the waterfalls, the forests, the villages, bridges and tunnels contribute to creating a breath-taking experience that lifts us out of our everyday life into a world we will not want to leave.
The collision effects and other visual effects make the game more dynamic. It’s important to say that all those graphic features don’t cause the game to feel heavy and they didn’t cause performance problems at the time of the game launch either.
- Sound and Music
The engine sounds are realistic and pleasant to hear. Sound effects like squealing when braking or turning at high speed, crashing, police sirens and the police saying “You’re busted!” make the overall experience worthwhile.
The soundtrack of Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2 is a bit different from the games before it. Apart from the electronic background music, it’s got songs from different artists. To me this is a welcomed change that breaks the monotony and inspires the sense of evolution.
In the end, I believe that Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2 is a light and fun game that deserves to be played. Even though it misses a few interesting features, it doesn’t lack the need for speed. In my view, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2 was the start of a new era of racing games but, sadly, it was its end as well. If I am to rate this game, I will give it an 8.5 out of 10 score.