GamesCom: Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Hands-On

By Darryl Kaye on September 6, 2010, 10:26AM EDT

Need for Speed is one of the most venerable franchises in the racing genre, and indeed the video games industry as a whole. It's also a franchise that's shown a ton of diversity within its specific field and it looks like it's again going to show that diversity as Criterion, the developers behind the Burnout franchise, have come on board to bring the franchise back to its roots with Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit.

After hearing that Criterion were involved, I was itching to try Hot Pursuit out for myself. I've been a huge fan of Burnout for years, so I was curious to see what they would do with such a big franchise.

As soon as I started off, it was quite evident that Burnout, specifically Burnout Paradise, had been a huge influence on the development of the game as the cars handled in a similar way. There was, in keeping with the mantra of the game, also a very arcade feel. And lastly, the crashes looked fantastic, another trademark of the Burnout franchise.

But let's get away from Burnout though, because after all, this isn't Burnout. And while there are some similarities, there are also a ton of differences.

There will be around 60 cars featured in the game from 27 different manufacturers. This means you'll be able to scream around corners like never before in a Pagani Zonda, and also crash a Pagani Zonda like never before. The police, one of the more interesting features in Hot Pursuit, also have access to these cars though, so don't expect an easy ride.

From what we checked out, quite a lot of Hot Pursuit will be A to B races, but they will often be Vs, with the police there to make things even more tricky. The police can create havoc by doing basic things like ramming you, but they can also set up road blocks and put down spike traps.

You have a few tricks up your sleeve though, and you can use Nitro, enhanced Turbo and also put down your own spike traps to thwart opponents/police behind you. It makes the gameplay a lot more tactical - it's no longer just about who's the fastest.

To add an extra dimension to the game, Criterion have also added the AutoLog feature. This is purely focussed on community, and it allows you to see what your friends are doing, while also seeing how well they've done in comparison to you. The developers hope it will help add a better sense of community within players through friendly (or not so friendly) rivalry.

From what I saw of Hot Pursuit, I was pretty impressed. It's a very different game from the last iteration, which was Shift and Criterion also claim that it'll be 4 times the size of Burnout Paradise. There will also be a full campaign for players to go through as the Cops, and with that much content, and the community features the game boasts, I think Need for Speed could be on the up again.

Well, we'll find out when the game releases this fall.

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