Need for Speed Hot Pursuit II (PS2)

Review

posted 10/11/2002 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PS2
The king of arcade racing has returned and it’s brought a few new tricks with it. After nearly a three year hiatus, the widely-popular Need For Speed series is back to reclaim the throne that it vacated so many years back. With new contenders like Acclaim's excellent Burnout series on the market, this is no easy task, but then again, when was EA ever one to back down from a good fight?

It could easily be argued that Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit was the pinnacle of the series. There’s just something about outrunning the long arm of the law that proved to be highly addicting and insanely entertaining. The fans wanted more and thankfully for them EA has listened and thus begat Need For Speed Hot Pursuit II. Building upon the elements that made the original Hot Pursuit so successful, the latest entry into the series is the best to date and perhaps, is the best racing game currently available on the market.

Judging by the title, the obvious emphasis has been placed on the Hot Pursuit action. In case you missed out on the excellent original, Hot Pursuit mode is one where you race through the tracks and try to avoid getting caught by the fuzz. They’ll use conniving tactics and try their damndest to prevent you from speeding through their streets. You’ll be able to hear their plans through the use of a police scanner that is mounted inside your vehicle. Listening to their messages, you’ll have the chance of foiling the cop’s upcoming plans and more importantly, secure your freedom for another day. Words really can’t explain just how exhilarating this is, there’s something devilishly exciting about running away from the cops in a vehicle that costs three times what I can afford. I suppose it’s just one of the guilty pleasures of life that everyone dreams about at one point or another. Thankfully, NFSHP2 does an immaculate job of replicating this dream and making it a reality.

The thrill of the chase is definitely what makes this game so appealing, but believe me, there’s a whole lot more to this game. You’ll be able to pilot over 40 vehicles from many of today’s most premiere manufacturers. That means you’ll get the sweetest Ferraris, the sleekest Lamborghini and a slew of other vehicles from hard to spell manufacturers. Due to EA’s excellent standing with these companies, each of these badboys feature some of the most realistic damage to ever appear in a racing title. This is definitely a rarity, especially with most of today’s automakers horrified at seeing one of the babies crumpled into a heap of scrap metal, but EA has managed to pull it off with excellent results.

In addition to being chased around the tracks, you’ll be given the opportunity to strap yourself behind the wheel of a seriously souped up police cruiser in an effort to uphold the law. You’ll get some truly amazing police vehicles such as the run of the mill V8 Crown Victoria and the not so run of the mill Pursuit M5. Stopping the pursuit involves you running your target off the road and blocking their path of escape, it sounds simple but at times it can become quite a handful. This is why you’re given the option of setting up roadblocks and calling in a chopper. Though they won’t actually stop the pursuit for you, they’re very helpful in bringing them to a close. You’ll also have unlimited usage of a speed burst at your disposal, this allows you to bring you vehicle up to some truly insane speeds complete with the neat motion blur filter. This mode isn’t quite as well developed as the other modes in the game but it’s still a neat little afterthought, especially when you’re chasing your buddy around the landscape.

If police chases aren’t your thing then you’ll be happy to know that the more traditional race modes are available. The Championship mode is a series of races that need to be completed to unlock the next series. Completing each race will usually yield a reward of some sort, whether it be a new vehicle or track, it’s usually worth the trouble. There are 30 events in all, concluding with the unlocking of the McLaren F1 LM, a truly amazing vehicle. If you’re not up to the task you could always just go to Quick Race mode, a mode where the game just random picks a track, your vehicle and settings for the following race, an excellent mode for those who just can’t wait to get into the game. Just in case you’re wondering, the Hot Pursuit aspect has identical modes except the inclusion of police vehicles that will try to stop your progress and the ability to assume the role of the police.
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