Saturday, August 7th, I was lucky enough to attend an event hosted by EA and the Need For Speed team to show off their upcoming title, Need For Speed Hot Pursuit. Hosted at the Debonair Social Club in Chicago, IL, the event featured multiple demo units on the ground floor, looping the same demo track over and over. Downstairs there were two more booths, both featuring two large televisions, two ps3s, and running a more full version of the title. Down there you were shown how to navigate the menus, and had the features of the game explained to you by members of the PR team or Jesse Adne, one of the NFS producers.
The event was pretty free-flowing. You could either play the demo units upstairs and listen to the live DJ, or head downstairs for a more in-depth look at the game. Both areas featured open bars, but downstairs you could also have your photo taken in a mock mugshot setting, with props and everything. A little after 9pm, the public was allowed in to get a taste of the game themselves.
The game itself is quite fun. Developed by Criterion Games, the title has the look and feel of the Burnout series. This isn’t a bad thing either, that is the look the NFS team was going for. Burnout games have become the standard for the way action racing games look and play, and the NFS team knows this and embraced it. Criterion Games had expressed interest in developing a Hot Pursuit game, and the NFS team thought they would be the perfect fit to bring the series back. Personally, I totally agree. By working together to combine the Criterion look with NFS design, they created a beautiful game that almost jumps off the screen and has an amazing sense of speed.
There was only one game mode, and one map, available to play. It was multiplayer, with up to 8 players, and was basically a game of cat and mouse, the epitome of the Hot Pursuit theme. If you chose to play as a racer your goal was to maintain a certain distance from the police. If you did so, you won the round. You are given tools to help you achieve this, such as a radar jammer, a speed boost, a radar decoy, and a random selection. As a police officer, your goal is to take down and capture any racers. You are also provided with tools to help you, such as a road block, a helicopter, an emp attack, and spike strips. There is no set path you’re required to take in the large maps, and the tools add a touch of strategy to the game. I was also told that the game will feature a Police Career mode, something the fans have been asking for since the original titles.
One of the coolest features of the title is the Autolog System. Using social connections like Xbox Live, PSN, and Facebook, the NFS Autolog system will not only allow players to share pictures and challenges, but will actually create a cross-platform “black list” of your friends. That means that the game will automatically provide you with challenges and goals based on how well your friends are doing. You could be at the top of a black list of actual people as opposed to say, Most Wanted, where your opponents were npcs. The game will also study your gameplay habits to provide you with challenges that will appeal to you and your gameplay style. All in all, the game will feature a lot of background mechanics to not only make it incredibly social, but incredibly personalized as well.
In the end I think the event was a success. It really gave us a taste of how far the game has progressed, and just what we can expect in the future. This title has a lot of polish that you just can’t convey via screenshots and video alone. The press and public were both allowed to try out the title and one lucky guy won a pre-order contest and was given a free PS3 customized with Need For Speed styling. This title promises to breathe a lot of life into the Need For Speed franchise and I, for one, cannot wait until the November 16th release date.