Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is out next month and arguably the racing game of the fall assuming Gran Turismo 5 gets delayed again to next year. Criterion Games, aka creators of the Burnout franchise are at the helm taking on EA's storied racing franchise. This new Hot Pursuit feels like a return to the Need for Speed of old with no open city to explore, or simulation-like focus which was last year's Shift (not that bad of a racing game though too). Criterion didn't hesitate putting in what they're good at with the Burnout games with intense and aggressive racing from start to finish as it shows in this speedball event above as the cops. As the cops, its pretty simple: take out the racers that are attempting to escape by ramming them numerous times till they run out of health (Well they have health meters) or employ police tactics like roadblocks and spike strips to slow down and then go for the kill. In other words, if you played the recent Burnout games before, this is pretty much Road Rage but you're a cop and you have more weapons at your disposal. The driving feels fine with the cop cars as it is similar to previous games of the franchise even though a different developer is at the helm, but its Criterion and they know how to make a good arcade racer. Racers will take shortcuts to avoid the main road as much as they can, but as long as you as the cop can keep with them, you'll take them out in no time. Other than the event in the demo, there are social elements with the Autolog, a key part of the final game. A glimpse of it is shown off with friend leaderboards, sending messages to friends' walls like Facebook, and more. Then again, I feel like most of the fun factor with this game after beating both the cop/racer careers will come in the online aspect and the amount of friends you have playing the game competing for fast times. In typical EA fashion, they want as much people as they can playing the demo to unlock more goodies for the final game, but the catch is you need to have at least one more friend that plays the demo to unlock another portion, which is a racer-event.
The little taste of what the demo offers for Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit makes me want to play the final game and it is about that time I feel like playing an arcade racer again, so this will likely fill the void for now. The racing itself feels fine and it seems like a return to form for the franchise with Criterion once again setting the bar for arcade racers with the social elements they implemented in this game. We'll see how those and the rest of the final game pans out when it comes out on mid-November.