Hot Pursuit is a Need for Speed game in name only. This blisteringly fast racer has more in common with developer Criterion Games’ own Burnout series than it does with any previous Need for Speed offering, despite lacking a number of features that are commonly associated with Burnout games. This isn’t a game in which you’re rewarded for crashing spectacularly or for jumping through billboards, but it is a game that encourages you to drive dangerously and to take down your opponents by any means necessary. The option to play both as illegal racers and as the cops that are chasing them brings some much-needed variety to the action, while spike strips, road blocks, and other satisfying countermeasures ensure that Hot Pursuit doesn’t feel quite like any racer that you’ve played before. Regardless of whether your interest in Hot Pursuit stems from a love of Need for Speed, Burnout, or neither, you won’t be disappointed.
If you’re familiar with the Burnout series, you’ll immediately feel at home with the handling in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. Licensed cars from the likes of Lamborghini, Aston Martin, and Porsche can be made to slide around corners with only the briefest of touches on the brake, and you earn nitrous by driving dangerously close to other vehicles and into oncoming traffic. Furthermore, there are plenty of shortcuts available if you stray from the Seacrest County roads, and should you wreck your ride while attempting to take one, you’re treated to a glorious slow-motion shot as panels buckle and debris starts to fly. A similar slow-motion treatment is used to alert you when additional cops show up to chase you down and when you successfully take out an opponent, which adds a welcome touch of Hollywood to these high-speed chases. Not that they need it.