The 3rd Need For Speed game, Hot Pursuit, has generated a massive fanbase since its publication in 1998. Electronic Arts has brought the 2010 version of this classic police chase thriller to the iPhone in its 3rd iOS NFS release. This time, you’re a daredevil cop willing to put his life and his car on the line for the well-being of society.
Hot Pursuit’s career takes you through 24 missions that include 4 different game modes. In each event, you are awarded stars for efficiency and bounty collected using one of 15 cop cars. During levels in which you chase down criminals, you can use 3 police tools, including spikes, roadblocks, and EMPs, to your advantage. A quick race mode puts you on the track immediately, and local multiplayer mode lets you race a friend via local wifi or bluetooth. The game has tracks in 3 environments and 3 scenarios, as well as 24 achievements with separate stages.
The game has a decent amount of play time and fast paced content that will keep you busy taking out criminal cars. You start the game with a Nissan 350Z and unlock other vehicles by leveling up in career mode, eventually receiving the keys for a Lamborghini Reventon. All the cars available have police designs, but nevertheless look astonishing. The 3 possible stars on each of the 24 events and 24 unlockable achievements give you additional incentive for racing well. A shop button at the title screen of the app hints that there will be more content for purchase later on in case you manage to complete everything.
While many racing games become repetitive, Hot Pursuit has much to keep you entertained. There are 4 game modes in career mode, as well as a local multiplayer in which you and a friend can choose both a police and criminal vehicle to race in. In interceptor mode, your goal is to damage a targeted car by smashing into it and placing roadblocks. A crime scene has been discovered in power struggle mode, and your goal is to beat the other cops to the location. Tough justice mode requires you to take out several targets as fast as possible, and rapid response is a single vehicle checkpoint race. These are spread throughout the campaign and can be played in quick play as well.
Need For Speed Hot Pursuit has several crucial improvements over the previous 2 NFS iPhone installments. A manual acceleration option has finally been added, and you can now hold the gas pedal instead of being able to break only. Nitrous is now initiated by swiping up on the right side of the screen while the handbrake is controlled by swiping down on the left. The 3 police weapons are fun to use and give the game more depth. Your goal is not just to cross that finish line first, but also to time your tools so that the enemy car gets damaged.
The game has arcade-style graphics that are somewhat better than those in NFS Shift. You get to race in deserts and forests during different times in the day, and the screen blurs if you drive fast enough, as shown in several screenshots. Crashes and takedowns are shown in slow motion and look spectacular. A competent soundtrack with dramatic menu music is included, along with voiceovers that let you know if you need to make any in-game adjustments. Even if you don’t like the audio, you have the option of listening to your own music while cruising down a dirt road at 200 mph.
A console version of Need For Speed Hot Pursuit also releases soon, and it’s worth mentioning that the iPhone version is not a complete port. You don’t get to use all the cars or play as the criminal. In fact, the 5 included non-cop cars can only be accessed in multiplayer mode. Unlike NFS Undercover, the game lacks a storyline. The game is powered by tilt controls, with no other options for those that hate using the accelerometer. Hot Pursuit plays smoothly, but still cannot compare to the precision of Real Racing.
In any racing game, the street machines are without a doubt the most important feature. For some reason, Hot Pursuit contains absolutely no customization for any vehicle. Just because all the cars are driven by police doesn’t mean that they should be boring and devoid of tuning and paint jobs. Games such as Asphalt 5 allow you to purchase upgrades with earned money, whereas the earned bounty in Hot Pursuit merely counts for leveling up. There are also less cars and game modes in the game than in both NFS Undercover and NFS Shift.
The game retains some of the same problems found in Undercover, starting with that the map is almost completely unhelpful because it only reveals a certain portion of the track. You have no idea when the race ends in events that don’t have a timer in the corner. Nitro contols are also difficult to engage when in manual acceleration, as swiping too close to the left will trigger the handbrake and swiping on the right is often unresponsive. While there are different camera modes, it appears that NFS cars still lack a rearview mirror. Unfortunately, Asphalt 5 remains the only 3D arcade racing game with online multiplayer.
Need For Speed Hot Pursuit definitely plays better than EA’s previous attempts at iOS racing. Some new features, highlighted by manual gas, stars, game modes, and police tools, make NFS more fun and enjoyable than ever. While there is an acceptable amount of replay value, the game could still use some more cars, tracks, and tuning. For $4.99, Need For Speed Hot Pursuit is worth it and a swift blast to play.