E3 2010: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit PreviewBy Sterling McGarvey - Posted Jun 18, 2010
What We Already Know
Not much prior to E3. Word has traveled around the industry for some time that Criterion Games shifted gears from the Burnout series to the Need for Speed franchise. At EA’s E3 press conference this week, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit kicked off the show.
What We’re Seeing Now
During a behind closed doors panel, creative director Craig Sullivan showed off more of the Autolog in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit , which he teased during the unveil presentation. Autolog is all about connectivity, and it seems more designed for interaction between you and your friends than with the greater global community. It seems like a game that’s constantly about staying connected to the Internet, but minus the unfiltered elements that have made online gaming a bit less savory.
He cited an example of friends who live on two different continents. If one lives eight hours ahead, he can set a personal best record. While he sleeps, another friend could break his record, and the game will keep constant notifications and track friendly rivalries. Autolog will also automatically recommend content to you based on how you perform and what your friends are doing. It will send you right into a competition if you’ve got friends playing online, should you also desire.
Plus, there’s an ongoing ticker that indicates the global rate that both racers and cops are accumulating points. Sullivan also mentioned a special photo mode that was inspired by team members sending each other cell phone photos of performance cars -- Criterion’s English studio is located very close to McLaren HQ and Top Gear’s test track, he said -- that raced by the office.
While the online connectivity looks poised to make some big splashes, Sullivan said that career mode is the real hook of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. You’ll have online and offline career modes as both a racer and cop. What I saw out of the demo was largely what you might have seen from the EA press conference with a few extra twists thrown in. Although the demo had a few of the in-game weapons, I got a look at both how weapons work and what types you’ll have at your disposal.
As a chase heats up and escalates, you’ll see a “hot pursuit percentage” indicator in the corner of the screen. With higher percentages, you can unleash some tricks of the trade. As a racer, you can create decoys that send the police cruisers on a wild goose chase. There are also boosters that you can use a la Burnout, or if you’re really trying to throw off their scent, you can send out a radar jammer. I saw how some of the police offensive tactics work as well. You probably noticed the roadblocks during the demo, as well as the tire spikes. There are even more that will make the game, such as an EMP blast that causes the racer’s screen to lose color and temporarily incapacitates the vehicle.
I’m a huge Burnout fan, but less one of Need for Speed. I think, however, that bringing Criterion’s arcade-style knowhow to a new game like Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit could be just the nudge I need to give NFS another spin. It’s definitely among the best racers I’ve seen all week.