Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

The new NFS, this one coming from Criterion Games of Burnout fame, is a week from release and the reviews are starting to pop. IGN gave it a 9.0 and praised most of the game. Game Informer gave it an 8.75. Good scores, definitely. But why have I lost interest in the game?

Burnout Paradise is my favourite racing game, ever. I played it more than I played any other game of the genre, and it's so good I could play it right now, years after it first came out. The game was excellent in every aspect, and that got even better with the amazing free DLC that came out after launch, giving us more cars, more events, event restarts (a major game-changing option that corrected its biggest flaw) and bikes. Bikes! Driving a motorcycle in Paradise City was simply amazing. The game had everything I could possibily want: great graphics (which are still great today), an awesome soundtrack and a very fun gameplay. Let's not forget that it was just great to simply drive around Paradise City, discovering new events to try, finding out new parking garages and beating road times. There were dozens of billboards to destroy and hundreds of special gates to run over. And at any time you could start Showdown and cinematically crash at anything you could see. At any time you could press a few buttons and almost immediately join an online lobby and try one of hundreds of great challenges with friends or randoms. I can't praise the game enough. If you haven't tried it, you're missing out, big time. Please get the game and all the DLCs.

All that seems to be absent from Hot Pursuit. There's a new location, Seacrest County, but it looks really bland. Paradise City had a personality, with great, remarkable locations everywhere, from the beaches to the long bridge and the Quarry. Seacrest, from what I have seen, has some great-looking scenery, but that's it. There's no personality in the locations, it's just a bunch of road put together with different background. There's no reason to roam freely around it: you have to choose the events from the main menu in a world map. The events seem to include only racing as a cop, or racing away from them. There are no secrets to be discovered (shortcuts don't count). The new Autolog feature is definitely great, but it doesn't seem to compensate the other faults.

You may be saying "this is a Need for Speed, not a Burnout" and you'd be right. This isn't a Burnout, and that's why I think I'm disappointed. Criterion has so much potential to make a new, awesome Burnout, but their talent was somewhat wasted with a new NFS that looks good, but not great, and not nearly as exciting as a Burnout. Sure, they're probably working on a new one now that NFS is done with, but how long will it take to finish that? A year? Two? That's too much. The world needs a new Burnout, and it needs it now.

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