Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (360)
All Hail Mighty Autolog!
On the surface, the Autolog does not seem all that revolutionary. After all, the idea of online leaderboards has been around for a long time. Autolog takes this idea to a whole new level, however. When you connect via Autolog, you are given seven different options: photo, wall, online, career, recommendations, news and store. Some of these are pretty self-explanatory: photos allow you to post photos you have taken in game and share them with your friends, career allows you to choose in which events you want to compete, news gives you the latest news on the game and the store gives you rapid access to any new downloadable content Criterion releases for the game.
If you are looking at the list, you will notice I intentionally skipped over three of the features of the Autolog. These are the ones that help set this game apart from the myriad of arcade racers:
- Wall: The wall in Autolog works much like your wall in your Facebook profile. You can post different random comments here, share your photos with your friends or post when you beat their times in the game. That’s right; not only does Hot Pursuit keep track of whom among your friends has posted the best times, but it gives you the opportunity in game to rub their faces in their own defeat. Of course, this is a two way street; your friends can be just as cruel towards you.
- Online: Sure, an online section is nothing new, but how about one that immediately tracks what your other friends who have the game have been doing. The online gives you the ability to find which of your friends have played Hot Pursuit, where they are at in their respective careers and who you can invite to join you for some online gaming. On top of that, it will look at your friends’ friends to see which of them have the game, recommending them for you to consider adding to your friends list.
- Autolog Recommendations: Ever found yourself wondering just what you should do next in an arcade racer? Autolog Recommendations helps make that decision a whole lot easier. While you can play just the standard career mode in Hot Pursuit, the Autolog will scan your game and your friends’ games to make recommendations as to which events you should consider playing. These recommendations are based off of many different factors, including which of your Speedwall times have been beaten by your friends, what events in the career mode you seem to prefer and which events you will want to complete to open up more races. The recommendations will also set a benchmark for you when you enter an event for the first time. For example, lets say eight of your friends have completed a particular event which you have not. The first time you enter that event, Autolog will suggest you strive the beat someone’s time roughly in the middle, more than likely the fourth place finisher. Do that, and you will be rewarded bonus bounty. Set the speed record for that event, and you will gain even more.
Autolog adds a whole new way to interact with your friends in a racing game. Suddenly the leaderboards are dynamic, and you will find it hard to not try races one more time to beat the best time on your wall. This functionality separates Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit from the pack when it comes to racing games, delivering an experience no other game, racing or otherwise, has thus far matched.
A Little Bad Among All the Good
While there is a lot to like about Hot Pursuit, there are a few decisions Criterion made that some gamers may not like:
- Didn’t I already unlock this?: You unlock almost all the same cars in both career modes of the game. While there are a few cars specific to either the racer or police missions, the majority overlap, but unlocking them in one mode does not unlock them in another, While the police and racer versions of cars do handle a little differently, there is a bit of repetition here. The same holds true for the weapons; the cops and racers may share EMPs and spike strips, but you have to level them up in their respective careers separately.
Even the colors are limited: There is almost no customization of cars in this game. Sure, it is nice to see what Criterion can do with real cars for once, but those familiar with the Need for Speed series will probably miss the ability to tweak the cars to fit their driving style. This was not really a barrier for me as I am not really into that kind of car customization in racing games, but if you are, be warned; other than a select few different colors you can choose for you cars when you are a racer, you cannot customize the cars at all.
- Were these the best songs you could find?: When you first boot up Hot Pursuit, you are greeted with 30 Seconds to Mar’s “Edge of the Earth.” This song really helps set the mood for the game, and it is a great song for racing. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the soundtrack is bland at best. On top of that, there are not nearly the number of songs available in the game that there were in Burnout Paradise, and you have no way to pick the specific songs you want in rotation. The game does let you import your own music, but if you do not have your music on your console, that does not really help. PC players will probably benefit more from this feature as they will have their music already on their system.
- Chatter, Chatter and more Chatter: There is a lot of talking in this game. As a racer, you will sometimes pick up on the chatter on the police radio. As a cop, you will be in constant contact with your dispatcher and the other units at your disposal. While I find this helps add to the atmosphere of the game, I know some players I have talked to have found it to be a bit much.
If You Play Only One Racing Game This Year….
Okay, I cannot really say if you play only one racing game this year, this should be it. In my opinion, this game would trump Gran Turismo 5, but as I mentioned before I am not a fan of racing sims. The unique race events, dual careers, great online play and Autolog make Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit a unique game in what has historically been a crowded genre full of games that feel alike. Add to that amazing graphics and different time and weather conditions for the races, and you can see why reviewers and gamers alike are saying Criterion has a winner on its hands. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit gets a 5 out of 5.
[starreview tpl=46 size=’30’]