SummaryThe last true Need For Speed game
The GoodIn retrospect, this game is better than I originally thought. It's the last true Need For Speed game - where you get to drive fabulous, exotic cars through fabulous exotic locations. These days the franchise is all about riced-out imports and dark unrealistic cityscapes, which, to me, lacks the nobility of the original intent. Anyone can glue some plastic crap to a Honda and drive like an idiot through downtown at night... but driving an Aston Martin or Ferrari through beautiful, flowing countryside is the stuff of dreams.
On to the game itself. well, it looks simply gorgeous. Even 4 years on, it still looks fantastic. The car models themselves are real nice, albeit a little too shiny to look real - a fault shared with many games, especially including the later NFS games. The locations and scenery are outstanding and hold so much detail you want to get out of your car and walk around.
Sound effects are appropriate for the game and give you all the required feedback for racing. I especially like the way you can hear the engine of a car that's right behind you - not realistic, but damn handy in a race.
I love the choice of cars in this game - a range of real sports cars from the real fun Vauxhall VX200 to the awesome McLaren F1. Plus it's nice to see a decent number of British cars for a change.
There is a decent variety in the different game modes. The Hot Pursuit challenges can get trying after a while, but you can just switch over to the regular Championship mode and not worry about the cops for a while. Plus single races give you the opportunity to be the cop, which makes for another entertaining distraction. There's also a cash system, although they call them credits in the game. Every time you win a race, or evade a cop pursuit or even lead a lap, you get awarded credits which you can spend unlocking cars and tracks for use in single race and multi-player games. It's a nice touch - it allows you to decide what you want to play with next.
The BadWell, my first gripe is that the game doesn't support my G25 wheel and can't even see my shifter. NFS 5 (Porsche) could so I don't understand this backward step from EA. I don't mind that much. As this is a true arcade racer, I'm faster with the keyboard anyway...
There's a real lack in the multi-player game too - there's no option to play Hot Pursuit together - just circuit races and lap knockouts. EA really dropped the ball with this one.
I could also moan about the stupidity of the AI, but it doesn't bother that much. It's a simple arcade game - I'm not looking for a serious challenge - just a bit of fun!
The Bottom LineIt's fun - a lot of fun - just don't take it seriously. The car handling is far from realistic and there's no damage model and the cops are stupid, but remember - it's an arcade game. If you want real racing sim look elsewhere. If you want to throw a sports car through some fantastic landscapes with the stereo up loud, this is just the ticket.