Top 10 of '10: Number 7 - Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (XBox 360)

by PaulEMoz in , , , , ,

This was always going to be a tricky one for me to look at, because I was coming into it with a massive sense of bias. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 on the PS2 is possibly my favourite racing game of all time, so I had a tremendous sense of anticipation for this one, and when that's the case, it's often possible to convince yourself that a game is awesome when it really isn't. So with that in the back of my mind, I put my sensible head on, remained objective, and played the latest entry in the Need for Speed series with a clear mindset.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is awesome.

Rather than have an open world where you drive around looking for events, Criterion have gone back more towards the roots of NFS, and although you can drive around Seacrest County (where the game is located), events are chosen from the map, a lot like that in Burnout 3: Takedown (also a Criterion game). That leads to a more focused game with less boring bits... if you feel like having a look around, great... I don't like being forced to do it just to find bits of game.

Forza! No... it's Need for Speed Hot Pursuit...

As is the norm for any racer these days, you start out in some "lesser" cars (that said, there's nothing here that you'd feel embarrassed going to the supermarket in) and earn access to better and better ones as you progress. And as you do move further along, you gain access to "weapons"... nothing stupid, just the same equipment the cops have got, such as EMP or spike strips. This adds a little bit extra, but without being over the top.

Now, about being a cop. I never really enjoyed that mode as much as I could have in NFSHP2. Stopping the racers always felt a little difficult... you could ram them and park in front of them, and they'd cheekily reverse off and be out of sight as your time limit came to an end. Slightly annoying, that. However, in what is a stroke of genius this time around, Criterion have changed the cop mode into the nearest thing you'll ever find to a new version of Chase HQ in 2010 (or 2011, as it is now).

And if you look to your right, you'll see the lovely Stegosaurus.

Now, this all sounds just about perfect, but although I love this game, I've been a little frustrated by it. The main reason for that is... I'm rubbish at spotting the shortcuts. You might wonder how; after all, there are tons of them. But I get so into the actual racing that the scope of my vision doesn't stray far from the actual road and cars. As a result of that, although I can usually scrape through to the end of the race, my ten-year-old son has beaten me by some seemingly impossible amounts of time on some tracks. How the hell does he do it? Easily, I suspect... just as I would have if I hadn't started getting old...

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit has basically everything I want from an arcade racer. So why isn't it higher in the list? Well, this is my top 10 favourite games of 2010, based on how much time I put into a game and how much I enjoyed it over the year. For a while, I thought this might have been my number one game of the year. But once my progress was halted, I moved on to other things. And although I do love this game and expect to until the next one comes out, there have been others this year that I've enjoyed for longer...