8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
So good, it cured my Burnout addiction!,
This review is from: Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2 - PlayStation 2 (Video Game)
Let me get one thing out in the open: I am a huge fan of Acclaim's Burnout series. The intense racing, blazing sense of speed, nerve-wracking crashes, and traffic-weaving are all amazing, and (I thought) unmatched among arcade racers.
Enter Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2.
EA's cop chaser came out about the time of Burnout 2: Point of Impact, which meant I was having such a blast with Burnout that I completely ignored NFS. But I kept hearing about how cool NFS was, so I gave it a rent, after exhausting Burnout, and was shocked out of my socks by the result: I think NFS: HP2 is a superior game, all things considered.
I will admit that Burnout 2 looks better, runs faster, and has a certain European style that I find highly appealing - not to mention the immortal Crash Mode. Hot Pursuit 2 might not have the technical advantages of Burnout, but what it lacks in style, it more than makes up for with substance.
First off, having licensed cars DOES make a difference. Blasting round a curve in a Ferrari is miles more sexy than speeding through the streets in a Sports Car. And what licenses: Porsche, Lambroghini, Aston Martin, Jaguar, BMW, Corvette! All modeled accurately, and gorgeously - there are over forty cars in all.
NFS's gameplay has more depth as well. While Burnout can seem at times like a tech demo for its superlative crash physics, NFS concentrates strictly on the racing. The well-rendered courses are long, with single laps lasting three minutes, and riddled with shortcuts that can make or break the race. Should I risk taking the narrow back road through the canyon and possibly nab first place, or play it safe and hope the other guys screw up? EA deserves a big hand for producing some of the most devious clever track designs you're likely to see.
You have a wealth of options to customize the races as well. All the cars have two different settings for handling: Classic (i.e. safe) or Extreme (for the powerslide freaks). You can race with commuter traffic on or off, car damage on or off, lap number, controller configuration, AI difficulty, weather conditions, camera views, HUD, car color.....I hope you're getting the picture. You can even adjust the licensed in-game soundtrack to play instrumentals only. Not since the Dreamcast's beloved Metropolis Street Racer has an arcade racer had so many options.
There are several race modes as well, which break down roughly into two categories: Hot Pursuit (i.e. the cops are lurking) and World Racing (no cops). Each mode has a 30+ race bracket with individual challenges, which get progressively tougher. The races also range from timed runs to GPs to some where you drive as the police themselves, chasing down reckless speeders under a strict time limit. Whereas Burnout can be beaten within a rental period, it'll take quite a while to unlock everything in HP2. And the variety, constant unlocked items, and non-linear branching gameplay ensures that it never gets repetitive.
While World Racing is noteworthy in its own right, Hot Pursuit is where the gloves come off. As you & your opponents (or a friend) barrel along the twisting roads, the police are waiting. You've got a radar detector that lets you know when you're targeted, as well as a scanner that contains some brilliant cop commentary: "27 to Central, I'm tracking a green Lotus Elisse that's doing 100+ and driving on the shoulder. Let's test his air bags." Ha ha - just try it. Elude the black & whites for a while, and they might call for a roadblock. Or a spike strip. Or a bomb-dropping helicopter. Yeah, it's all over-the-top, but oh man, what a rush: four cops on your tail, weaving around commuter traffic, dodging bombs from above, all while hanging onto first place by the skin of your teeth. Even the most traffic-choked Burnout streets didn't get this insane. Then you hear that police cruiser smash into a wall, and your scanner says: "27 to Dispatch - my cruiser is out of commission. Am unable to continue pursuit. Over." Awwww yeah!
Did I mention you can play as the cop and chase down your friends......even calling in the chopper and roadblocks to stop them? And that you can unlock Corvette and Murcielago versions of a police cruiser? Let the trash-talking begin.
My intent is not to bash Burnout 2 at all - it's a definite keeper based on the amazing graphics and Crash Mode - but as far as pure pulse-pounding intense arcade racing action, I've never played anything as fun and insane as Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2. Toss sim racing out the window and smash down the accelerator - this game'll give you whiplash!