The words Need For Speed use to mean something. Back in the glory days of the 3DO a small company known as EA made what was perhaps the greatest racing game of all time, and for a console that failed so miserably the game was forgotten. This was until EA ported the game over to the PSX and finally some people took notice. Striving to be like EA is known to be the company released five different versions over the next five years on the PSX and each one aiming for a different style. In fact all but one of them failed miserably, and that one is NFS 3: Hot Pursuit. Still heralded today as one of the best PS racers ever the Hot Pursuit series returns with 128-bits of glory. My friends strap yourselves in for the ride of your life.
The keyword in the game’s title is definitely “speed” and this game has more than enough to go around. Blazing across your TV so fast you almost loose track of what is going on. The best part is the game rarely ever drops a frame. Forest fires, puddles of water, smoke effects and the like do everything they can to make this game chug and fail every time. The car models are super sweet and shiny, my complaint? The damn jaggie PS2 style, this game does show it off quite well. Remember the Gran Turismo grass texture? Yup it’s back again, and rearing it’s jaggie head my way. What is the deal where PS2 developers cannot find time to utilize the software coding of anti-aliasing?? I mean look at Burnout 2, that game is silky smooth, barely any jaggies! I guess we would hope for an XBox or Cube version to save us, oh wait they were developed by someone else. This agitates me because if this same game were ported to either system it could look so much better. With all the bitching aside this game does look fabulous.
Anyone here like Rush? OK I can see there is a fan base now lemme ask does anyone here like Uncle Kracker? (hears crickets chirping) didn’t think so. With this said I truly miss having customs soundtracks, sure hearing real bands while racing is a must, it’s just too bad that EA is good at picking 50% great bands and 50% crap. The original tracks are nice with a solid mixture of techno and rock, but for god’s sake UNCLE KRACKER?!?!? The sound effects are fantastic, true engine sounds and ambient effects add to the overall experience. The support of Dolby Pro Logic II is also a very nice touch. This game pounds on my home surround system.
NFS games have always bordered on that sim/arcade line. Giving a sense of speed is hard when you add in true drifting and power sliding techniques, so when all is said and done this game does a nice job of sharing the responsibility between the two styles. A gripe if I may is that I have come to hate the Dual Shock 2 controller, no analog triggers really pisses me off. Racing game simply require these and if Sony sticks with the theory that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” with their controller they should re-think it. I love analog triggers, Cube’s got ’em, Box has got ’em, hell even the Dreamcast had them. Get with it Sony, as an alternative you can use the right analog stick for gas and brake, but it just isn’t the same.
For years I have been itching for a new game in the NFS series and I can happily say I was not disappointed. This game delivers everything I could have hoped for and so much more. If you are in the market for the fastest and most fun racer on the PS2 look no further than NFS: HP 2. The game brings back what made racing games popular…fun factor. Add in hours of multi-player and the traditional Hot Pursuit mode and you will be racing for months. Great game, superb execution, highly recommended.