It's undeniable that the Need for Speed franchise is known for releasing some of the best selling video games of all time, racing past the one hundred million copies sold milestone as of 2009. However, according to user reviews, articles, and sales decline, the series has failed to live up to the expectations and aspirations of the series' fans and casual gamers nowadays. After Need for Speed: Most Wanted, the series has had a sharp decline in sales, as gamers migrate toward different genres and different racing games considering the Need for Speed franchise has changed their methods of racing, much to the displeasure of its original fans.
Electronic Arts, after the decline, let Criterion Games (creators of the Burnout series) rebuild the games. It's a well known fact that automakers improve their vehicles' performance by improving aerodynamics, shedding extra weight, balancing handling and of course, adding power. Criterion most likely looked at the franchise and decided to go for a similar path to return the series to its former glory.
I found the storyline in the game to be overall lackluster, considering the sheer fact that there is no real story. You pretty much assume that the player's aim is to become the top vigilante on the racer side and the top enforcer on the police side by earning a bountiful harvest of bounty. Yes, bounty as originally seen in Most Wanted, has returned in Hot Pursuit, but you needn't worry; it's less annoying. You don't need to outrun police and hide in a garage to cool down. When it comes to racing, you earn bounty by taking down and avoiding being taken down by police and getting yourself to the finish line. On the other side of the coin, you earn bounty on the police counterpart by taking down racers, deploying spike strips, setting up roadblocks, and successfully utilizing the police helicopter deployment. As I mentioned before, there is no real storyline, you can pretty much either assume the obvious or just make one up yourself.
Gameplay in Hot Pursuit has definitely been improved. The overall driving mechanics have been redone and making simple turns proves to be much easier. Even hairpin turns at full speed prove to be a breeze as long as you time your drift properly. I was definitely impressed, considering Hot Pursuit is the first Need for Speed game I've played since Most Wanted, not counting the demo I played for Shift. What I enjoyed the most was the nostalgic feeling I got when playing the game, since it reminded me of a modernized version of the original Hot Pursuit games for the original Playstation. Hot Pursuit is very reminiscent of the originals which I thought would definitely appeal to the fans of the series, as well as a broader audience.
I think what I loved the most about the game was the killer soundtrack. I always loved the music in the Need for Speed games, but in Hot Pursuit, the music makes you want to race. It makes you want to take down criminals, fling around a turn at full speed, feel like a bad ass when driving a Bugatti down the mountainside. There wasn't much music I recognized, but I definitely became addicted to the songs I was listening to.
I definitely recommend this game to any fan of the Need for Speed series, and even casual gamers looking for a good racing game or even a different experience. You won't be disappointed.