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Gamescom 2010: Need For Speed Hot Pursuit Hands-on

It would be an unusual sight to not have any new Need for Speed titles hogging the shelves this holiday season and Electronic Arts knows it. Unlike last year’s Need for Speed Shift, the upcoming reinvention of the Hot Pursuit sub-brand is being handled by Criterion Games, the makers of the excellent Burnout racers. For Gamescom, EA had a new environment and game mode to show off and although our time with the game was very brief, it offered just enough play time for us to get a good feel for it.

On showcase was a multiplayer race which tasked us with crossing the finish line first, but not without heavy police resistance chasing our tails and trying to stop us by all means necessary. In the first few minutes, there wasn’t much resistance from the men in black, as only a few low-level cars were giving chase, but the closer we got to the finish line, the more difficult it became to stay on the road.

The early forces were easily taken care of by ramming the side of our vehicle against theirs and it took only several well-timed hits to deplete their health bars. Such wasn’t the case when the police brought in more sturdy and nimble Pagani Zondas to try and get us off the track and heavy SUVs to put a stop to our breakneck speed at road blocks. These higher-level forces also made use of lethal spike strips and air support which made evasion impossible. Therefore, maintaining lead position wasn’t the only worry on our minds, as we also had to keep our health in check.

To make the task doable, we were forced to use some abilities of our own, accessed via the d-pad. The demo we played featured only two of these: turbo boost and spike strip. Using these two at the right moment made a considerable difference when we found ourselves in tight spots. At the end of the race, we were awarded a gold medal for our outstanding performance.

All told, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit handles very well and stays true to its name and roots. If the rest of the game holds up, then we recommend those of you looking for a thrilling arcade racing experience to keep an eye on this one.

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit is set for release on November 16 in North America and the 19th in Europe.

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