Initially we were turned off by the split focus online, since we’ve been largely turned off by racing online due to piss poor matchmaking, cheaters, and being pitted against people we’ll never beat in a million years. That’s hardly an issue here in Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit. There are probably other modes online, but none of them matter to us anymore after playing a fully stacked race of Hot Pursuit mode with real people. It’s not just about playing who you want, when you want, it’s that separating races into two teams of any number of cops and racers fosters rare racing teamwork and can essentially yield two winners per race. Plus, the fact that weapons are divvied like loadouts means that unlike other games with random item pickups, luck takes a backseat to skill, strategy and timing. There is no Blue Shell here, so if someone pounds you with an EMP meters before the line, it’s because they risked life and limb to hold on to it.
The Autolog feature is also a godsend of an online addition. Most of us don’t bother to look at leaderboards, because let’s be honest, nobody cares if they’re ranked 20,000th in anything. Instead, the Autolog is basically a Facebook wall where you can see who of your friends beat who and what mode, with what car, when and by how much. At any time in the game you can take a picture of the events onscreen by clicking right analog stick and essentially “talk shit” with a screenshot by posting it on a buddy’s page.
Even if you aren’t actively using it, the Autolog is still working overtime. It’ll subtly show you your friends’ records below single player events so you can achieve micro-victories offline, even while your friends sleep. So whereas other racing games pad their roster with time trials and other superfluous modes, Hot Pursuit can keep the challenges coming all year long based on what your friends accomplish dynamically.