Hot Pursuit carries plenty of meaning among Need for Speed fans. Not surprisingly, when Criterion announced the new installment at this year's E3, a good chunk of the gaming community went totally nuts -- in a good way.
Criterion Games is best known to most for Black and Burnout. The latter has always appealed to an audience beyond the hardcore racing crowd, with the way it encouraged vehicular mayhem in so many different ways. Suck at racing? Destroy the other racers instead!
As seen in the E3 debut trailer, Hot Pursuit will feature licensed vehicles across the board. A Bugatti police cruiser went head to head against a Zonda, while screenshots flash other exotic names like Lamborghini and Porsche, all ramming into one another.
Then there's the new Autolog system. Going along with this whole social gaming thing, Hot Pursuit will feature Autolog, Criterion's take on Facebook. The main NFS Feed acts like the FB wall, updating in real-time with messages, photos, and anything else you or your buddies can think of posting. The Autolog's also good for tracking other people's progress, alerting you to anything notable, like when a friend beats your record on a specific event. Challenging him to a rematch can easily be done through the Autolog as well.
Most gamers are going to have a preference, either for Cops or Racers. Regardless of your personal tastes, both sides are equal in terms of Career content. The Cops do have a slight advantage over their quarry, though both sides carry exclusive "abilities."
Here's what we saw used during the demo:
- Road block
- Aerial support to track suspects, deploy spike strips
- EMP blast that temporarily disables other vehicles
- Decoy vehicle
- Jammer shorts out police radios, "cloaks" your vehicle
- Overdrive gives a burst of speed, fastest ever in Need for Speed
Each match can last between five and 30 minutes across 100+ miles of open road, depending on luck and player skill. During some hands-on time with Hot Pursuit, I managed to lose a cruiser within three minutes, simply by hitting the emergency break, doing a 180 and peeling off in the opposite direction. If you enjoy taking risks, try fighting off a cop car instead of running. Just keep in mind that in a "brawl" situation, Cops will almost always have the advatange.
Yet it ultimately comes down to smart driving and tactful weapons deployment. Human error easily negates whatever perks Cops naturally possess, and every area has enough alternate paths to utilize during an escape (or chase).
The multiplayer supports up to eight players, and you can actually custom tailor the teams in various configurations. Imagine pitting seven Cops against a single Racer. Sounds pretty unfair until friendly fire is applied. Don't worry, you won't get penalized for taking out an ally's tires with misplaced spike strips, but that mistake buys your suspect valuable time.
Hot Pursuit is slated for November 16, 2010. As for me, I can't wait to smash that CCX into something even more expensive.