Hot Pursuit Review
These little niggles are a shame as the actual racing part of the game is fun; very fun infact. The sense of velocity the game creates is addictive and we frequently found ourselves slightly terrified at the speed at which we were weaving between the oncoming traffic. It’s not uncommon to be doing 180mph down the wrong side of the motorway, desperately straining to see if that glint on the horizon is an oncoming innocent on their way to the shops, or just a reflection off a building.
It’s this kind of seat-of-the-pants racing that the game does best which is why the early levels, when there is relatively little traffic on the road, can seem a little pedestrian at times. As you progress the challenges open to you take place on steadily more populated roads and it’s this random factor that adds both excitement and frustration to the game in equal shovel loads. It can be galling to hit an ambling family estate at the end of a perfect five minute time trial run - galling enough in fact to make us break one of our PS3 controllers after just such an incident.
Where this random factor excels though is in the full blown street races, which unfortunately don’t make up nearly enough of the main street racer career. Races are often ridiculously chaotic with leaders leaving a stream of wrecked and damaged cars in their wake for the other racers to weave around. It’s a good thing then that the crashes in Hot Pursuit are done well, with cars regularly flipping over barriers and even each other while showering the road with debris and broken glass.
The cars are fully licensed and accurately modelled so, obviously, the Porsches look ugly
The game drops into a borderline gratuitous cinematic slow-mo when you successfully disable an opponent or crash headlong into a lorry too. It’s all a little Michael Bay, but it fits in well with the hyped up arcade style of the racing and we wouldn't expect any less from Criterion.
The AI plays its part well too as it isn’t excessively predictable and strikes a nice balance between making spectacular mistakes while still being competitive when it needs to be. Unfortunately, police intervention in most of the street races is an entirely scripted affair, with a set amount of officers arriving at a set time. This is only a minor criticism, but police intervention can get predictable if you have to play the same street race over and again.
One thing that does become apparent as you play through the game is the sense that you are constantly being sold to. Each of the fully licensed cars comes with a cringingly overblown tagline that reads like it was written by a marketing manager drunk on his own sycophancy. Lines such as ‘Distinctive, resolute, strong willed
’ and ‘Always thrilling at full-throttle
’ were particular favourites.
Sponsorship and monetization spill over into the career challenges too, with a number of races sponsored by a single manufacturer or brand. These races come with the ubiquitous blurb about how that particular manufacturer is ‘leading the way in automotive design’ and how ‘now is your chance to experience ultimate driving’. Possibly most laughable is the fact that the police road blocks are ‘Produced in association with Ford
- we wonder how much Ford had to pay for that privilidge?
Chases often involve cars worth more than the GDP of a small country
Once you get bored of the repetitive nature of the singleplayer campaign there is the multiplayer aspect of the game to explore. This introduces the much vaunted Autolog feature of Hot Pursuit, which acts essentially as an always-on leader board between you and your friends. Times are recorded for each of the in-game challenges you complete, with your time and car sent to your friends. This is a nice idea, but it’ll live and die by how many of your friends have the game too.
Of more interest to us was the online play that allows up to eight players to play as either street racers or the police. Any combination of cars can be played, so you can have a straight
up eight man street race or a four-on-four street racers vs police shoot out. One of the more amusing combinations is to have a single street racer with seven police players, all of which are competing for the takedown.
Hot Pursuit is far from perfect. It creates memorable moments with it’s over the top racing style and spectacular crashes but it’s as shallow as a Blitz era bath. The two career paths offered little in the way of actual variation; even the cars available to the two paths are the same. The challenges also become tediously repetitive, with only a few different racing modes on offer.
Hot Pursuit is a lowest common denominator game. Its fun at the base level - driving fast and crashing hard invariably brought a smile to our faces. Once the lustre had worn off though there was little substance to back it up and we ended up losing our interest quicker than an Irish bank.