Rating: ★★★½☆

Pros:

  • Beautiful graphics
  • Effective control scheme
  • Fun

Cons:

  • Missing vital component (Racer Mode)
  • Redundant

Taking full advantage of the iPhone 4′s spectacular retina display, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit is one slick looking game.  From the car models to environments and menus, everything about this game screams polish.  While it’s something EA has always been good at, NFS:HP is no different.  With that being said, most people will approach this game with the expectations that it has all the components of its console brethren but alas, that is not the case.  The game is completely devoid of the racer portion in that you can only play as the police, leaving the player feeling a bit taken advantage of. 

Graphics & Presentation: Simply sweet.  The eye popping visuals are easily the game’s biggest selling point.  Only noticing a couple instances of frame dropping slow down, the game runs super smooth and is a true feast for the eyes.  The game features several locales to drive through from lush coastal landscapes to desert canyons and more.  It’s a real treat to see today’s popular high end sports cars draped in police colors and watching them cruise across the many delectable settings is just as arousing.  I could have used some damage modeling and crash effects on both sides of the law, but the slow motion sequences added a nice sense of accomplishment when you take out an enemy racer.  I actually felt like I was playing an updated version of Spy Hunter by the game’s gratuitous use of oil slicks, spike strips, and roadblocks.  The menus also looked great and only complimented the game’s fine tuned visual approach as well as implementing navigation via the touch screen.

Sound: Police radio chatter, sirens, and screeching tires dominate the majority of what is heard in Hot Pursuit.  Aside from that, the soundscape is well balanced with in-game music to fill in the blanks.  Everything came across as crystal clear, though the sound of incoming cash was a bit too shrill for my tastes.  Earphones are definitely the way to go (if you don’t mind the protruding plug getting in the way) and only reinforces the overall sheen of the game’s production value.  The actual soundtrack however, was lame beyond reprieve.  Most every song chosen by the music supervisor was some kind of Killers “new” wave crap that makes my skin crawl.

Gameplay: Dumbing down the controls is the best thing EA could have done with this title hands down.  Offering auto-acceleration lets you keep your hands off the screen as much as possible with the exception of using the brakes or power-ups (roadblocks, etc.).  This really works and lets you pay attention to steering clear of oncoming traffic and utilizing your EMP’s and spike strips.  Something which requires some level of timing and execution.  As with most racing games the steering is controlled by tilting the phone back and forth, so the general control scheme should be familiar to most mobile gamers.

The game features 4 tiers of progression each with different cop related events from checkpoint racing, racing against other cops, taking out a group of racers, or focusing on one particular outlaw racer.  After each event you are awarded with cash points that level up accordingly.  As you progress through the ranks you are awarded with new cars that are generally better than the one you were driving previously.  You also get achievements based on the stuff that you’d do ordinarily so you don’t really have to go out of your way to get them, but they do add cash bonuses to get you closer to the next rank.

Multiplayer & Replay Value: While the different “race” types allow for some variety you’re basically doing the same thing over and over with slightly better cop cars.  There is a local Wi-Fi mode to race against a buddy but I only had one copy of the game so I didn’t try that one.  After maybe an hour of total play time I progressed through to Tier 3 and gained access to most of the cars, so I can’t say that the replay value is all that high.  While absolutely fun, I can’t say that it is worth the $6 asking price.  You’d have to be pretty into mobile gaming in general or just have cash to blow.  In all honesty, I get real excited about iPhone games but I never end up really playing them.  As with Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, play through it for a couple hours and you might be done.

Final Endings: Without the inclusion of the whole racer portion of the game, EA has slightly done NFS:HP a disservice.  Being the law is cool for sure, but being the outlaw is often times more fun.  Everybody knows that.  That option should be there, and it would have definitely garnered a higher score if it was.  The game is really taut for what it is and EA should feel good about the beauty and simplicity of the product, but they should have taken the time to include the other half of the game.



Jeff B