Many of you probably remember my ongoing adoration for Burnout Paradise from Criterion Games and Electronic Arts. Burnout is the most fun I've had with a non-kart racing game in, well, ever, so it's only natural that I'd have my eye on Criterion's next production as it takes the reins of the Need For Speed franchise with Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and PC. Due out in November, will the game be like Burnout? Will it have the action I'd expect without the Need For Speed: Shift-like attention to minute detail that isn't really my thing? GamesRadar has a few thoughts on those subjects that have me liking what I see.
You've got forks in the road which offer shortcuts. Forest fires that limit visibility. You've even got player-triggered special moves like fireballs which race up the track to show you what's ahead, exploding barrels called in from helicopters and spike strips to stop your target getting away. One look at the Gamescom gameplay demo will show you that (fireballs aside) the new game embraces these sensibilities, adding all the sprinkles that current-gen tech can add to this already rich racing cake, in particular social networking and 'always on' online integration. Check it out:
The reason everybody loves Trials HD and Geometry Wars 2 is because they like seeing how well their mates did when they played the current level. It gives every race genuine meaning that you simply cannot achieve from racing AI cars alone. Even if you're not racing your mates on the same track at the same time, they'll always be there, taunting you with another ten seconds of being better than you. It's arguably everything Burnout Paradise tried to be, only with more structure and therefore more meaning in-game. Who cares if you're slower down some backstreet in Paradise City? This time it really matters.
This looks like what I want to see in a racing game: intense action and thrilling chases. I'm not really a "car guy". I don't want to tweak and fine-tune every last nut and bolt on a car and then run laps around a conventional racetrack to see if it runs one mile per hour faster than my previous attempt. I want to dodge spike strips dropped from helicopters and take down other cars that get in my way by ramming them off the road. So far, Hot Pursuit looks like it's offering plenty of that kind of action.