You're wrong - Need For Speed Hot Pursuit is NOT Burnout with cops

Everybody's saying the same thing: Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit is like Burnout. Of course they are - the game is, after all, made by Criterion. It probably uses the same game engine. The slick speed, the way the car sits on the track, the spectacular crashes - it's Burnout Paradise on the interstate freeway. But everyone's wrong. The reason the latest Need for Speed is going to be a return to form is because it's actually much more like something else. Yep, Need For Speed Hot Pursuit 2.

'But how can it be more like its own sequel?' I hear younger readers ask, incredulously. 'It's not even out yet'. Well, of course you'd be right. But I'm talking about the forgotten game of the Need For Speed franchise. The last game in the series before it went all 'street'. Before Carbon. Before Underground. Back when it looked like this:

Yep, the almost completely forgotten Need For Speed Hot Pursuit 2 on PS2 is clearly the game Criterion wanted to remake for current-gen systems (the clue was in the name, surely). With good reason, too - the PS2 game still stands as one of the most action-packed racers ever. EA managed to make the humble PS2 draw huge forests without breaking sweat, before filling the environment with deliciously OTT special effects and unusual gameplay elements.

You've got forks in the road which offer shortcuts. Forest fires that limit visibility. You've even got player-triggered special moves like fireballs which race up the track to show you what's ahead, exploding barrels called in from helicopters and spike strips to stop your target getting away.

Above: The new game (left) next to the PS2 classic. Same scenery, same concept, same awesomeness

One look at the Gamescom gameplay demo will show you that (fireballs aside) the new game embraces these sensibilities, adding all the sprinkles that current-gen tech can add to this already rich racing cake, in particular social networking and 'always on' online integration. Check it out:

The reason everybody loves Trials HD and Geometry Wars 2 is because they like seeing how well their mates did when they played the current level. It gives every race genuine meaning that you simply cannot achieve from racing AI cars alone. Even if you're not racing your mates on the same track at the same time, they'll always be there, taunting you with another ten seconds of being better than you. It's arguably everything Burnout Paradise tried to be, only with more structure and therefore more meaning in-game. Who cares if you're slower down some backstreet in Paradise City? This time it really matters.

Above: Even the cars look more like classic, road-hugging Hot Pursuit vehicles than Burnout's jalopies

So everything's looking great. It's crisp, solid, packed full of incident and drama... In fact, at this stage, the only thing that worries me is the lack of corners. The PS2 game had plenty of turns to navigate - never so sharp you had to slow down, but still enough to keep things interesting. There was barely a turn in the Gamescom stage demo.

Even that was probably a conscious PR decision to show the game's speed in the few minutes they had to demo it to the world. If Codies' F1 2010 and DiRT 3 weren't enough to satisfy your need for speed, then (oddly, considering the name) Need For Speed almost certainly will. I'm in - are you?

19 Aug, 2010



Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000
  • SMIDA - August 23, 2010 11:42 p.m.

    About time a new decent car game came out. i hate all the track racing games such as F1 and PGR so this is looking good for me
  • philipshaw - August 20, 2010 12:31 p.m.

    This looks cool but I have heard mixed opinions about it
  • seabassuk - August 20, 2010 10:33 a.m.

    This looks like Cops with Burnout!
  • F4LLENS0LDIER - August 20, 2010 12:49 a.m.

    hot pursuit 2 is my favorite need for speed game. cannot wait for this one
  • dunc12 - August 19, 2010 11:09 p.m.

    man, I can't wait for all three of those! (Hot Pursuit, F1 2010, DiRT 3)It's gonna be an awesome racing-filled year, and I'm excited =]
  • Bawheidbob - August 19, 2010 9:10 p.m.

    Quite hyped up for this one, kind of lost faith in racers these last few years - Perhaps due to me getting older and losing what little skills i had. If i am honest to myself i have not enjoyed a racer much since V-Rally and GT2
  • sk8r7 - August 19, 2010 6:58 p.m.

    i hope this reboot of an old classic stays original the original hot pursuit 2 was really fun, but it was really hard. there were no difficulty settings on story mode. the one from 2003 had great cars, good online modes, and en a mode where you could be the cops themselves and catch speeders. the only thing in common with this "new" hot pursuit is the tracks that you can race on and part of the title. i bet it won't have anything the original 2003 one had.
  • keefster - August 19, 2010 5:20 p.m.

    I didn't forget that game!!! I played it all the time, still do sometimes. Its on my games shelf right next to halo 3 and MW2 and GTA and...Burnout paradise!!! I didn't know it was forgotten :(
  • H2A2I00 - August 19, 2010 5:10 p.m.

    i remember that hot pursuit 2 was one of the first ps2 games i had and me and my friends spent endless hours stuffing our faces with junk food while we raced each other
  • Ninjadmin - August 19, 2010 2:49 p.m.

    Everything ive read on this so far has said its open world... Heres one such article. "And in true Criterion style this all takes place in a diverse open world housing everything from California coastline, deserts, forests, seasides and mountainous regions perfect for powering through." I heard in one of Giantbombs E3 podcasts that it has "10.5 square miles of open world & is 4 times larger than Paradise city".
  • FriendlyFire - August 19, 2010 2:24 p.m.

    HP2 is probably my favorite NFS game, and this game reminded me immediately of it. I'm thrilled :D
  • Hydrohs - August 19, 2010 2:09 p.m.

    I've never forgetting HP2. My friend and I spent hours and hours playing it on the GameCube, and I still play it on PC to this day. Fantastic game, and the reason I got so excited after seeing the title for this game at E3. If it's even half the game HP2 was it will be great.
  • TheWoolyMammoth - August 19, 2010 1:57 p.m.

    Also while I'm here, I just wanna point out that this is the second time you've made me go back and play my PS2 Justin. First XG3 and now HP2 <3
  • TheWoolyMammoth - August 19, 2010 1:51 p.m.

    I'm most definitely in, I'm a huge fan of Criterion's racers. Every article and video I see just make me want it even more :(
  • AxiamWolfe - August 19, 2010 1:29 p.m.

    I LOVED NFS3:Hot Pursuit, and to a lesser extent Hot Pursuit 2 (really, chasing cars with health bars?). But this? Though it's a nice return to roots after the Underground-Undercover saga, not to mention the fact that Burnout is hella fun, this still feels like "Burnout with cops". I'd much rather perform a PIT maneuver on an offender and see my cop persona arrest/ticket the bastard than send the speeder crashing into a mangled wreck any day. And the new spike strips are just weak.
  • Crofto - August 19, 2010 1:14 p.m.

    " The reason the latest Need for Speed is going to be a return to form is because it's actually much more like something else. Yep, Need For Speed Hot Pursuit 2." Can't say I agree, I'm afraid. I stopped playing these games after NFS Hot Pursuit 2, since the Fast and Furious crap was a major turn-off; I was hoping this game would revitalise what I liked about the old games, but the inclusion of EMPs, and boosts is already a big downer for me. Enough of the gimmicks - I just want the focus to be on racing fast, taking short-cuts and dodging civilians out on the road, not collecting points so I can make my car go faster.
  • ShaneCedt - August 19, 2010 1:01 p.m.

    The Need For Speed series keeps dropping the ball
  • pollenski - August 19, 2010 12:58 p.m.

    OMFG - I completely remember spending days and days playing the demo of NFS3 on my old PC! It was sweet as! It was also unfortunately the most modern game I could ever play on that old dx2 and an upgrade was beyond my budget so I then joined the ranks of console gaming to console myself. I tried a couple of NFS titles on friends PCs since but they went to crappy arcade handling and Fast and the Furious style jizz-mobiles instead of proper cars, so this has caught my eye once more! Any news on whether the handling will be returning to the realms of realism or any genuine vehicles on board?
  • GR_JustinTowell - August 19, 2010 12:55 p.m.

    No correction needed, y2kpikachu12 - while the massive draw distance gives the impression of an open world to drive around, it looks point-to-point to me too. Also lol at CARDYKEV - very good :P
  • y2kpikachu12 - August 19, 2010 12:51 p.m.

    @Ninjadmin I don't think it is an open world racing game. Anyone correct me correcting him if i'm wrong.