Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit at E3

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While Sid and I were giving EA’s Dead Space 2 and rebooted Medal of Honor a go, our soccer-mad English counterpart, SCEE’s James Gallagher, drifted (see what I did there?) over to the Need for Speed area. Our good friends Criterion are tasked with developing the next NFS title, Hot Pursuit, and it’s already looking like a change for the best. James chatted with the team – presumably over tea – to find out more about what the Burnout Paradise devs have planned in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit for PS3

One of the games attracting the most attention at E3 was EA’s Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit; the first title in the series developed by the people behind Burnout, Criterion Games.

James Deverill and Doug McConkey of that team gave me a demonstration of the game and it’s clear that they’re looking to return to the roots of a series that has gone through many changes since it first arrived way back in 1994.

“I remember playing Need for Speed even before working in the games industry,” said Deverill. “Three things stood out for me then: it had the coolest cars on the planet, it had amazing highways to drive them on and there were cops pursuing you. It’s these three active ingredients, in particular, that we want to bring back with our game.”

The playable demo at E3 was a game of Pursuit Mode, which is essentially cops and robbers with the old bill trying to ram the street racer’s sports car until it is totally wrecked. You can play as either a Cop or a Racer and both parties have their own weapons to add strategy. For example, a Cop can radio in a roadblock while a Racer can scramble his opponents radar and even send a decoy – a second blip on the Cop’s radar to throw them off the scent.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit for PS3 Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit for PS3

There are full career modes for both Cops and Racers that you can switch between at will, as well as an extensive suite of online modes.

“Online multiplayer supports eight players,” explains Deverill, “and one of the coolest things we’ve included, for me, is the way that you can have any combination of players; you can even have seven cops against one racer if you like and this adds a lot of variety.”

As you would expect from the brains behind Burnout, it is blisteringly fast and utterly gorgeous. It also boasts licensed supercars and a game world four times the size of Paradise City.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit for PS3 Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit for PS3

Unusually for game that features police chases at more than 250 miles per hour, the team seems most excited about Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit’s menu interface.

“We’re very excited about the way that Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit brings players together,” said Deverill. “Digital communication is at the heart of how people behave these days so, given that, we’ve included a social network in the game to connect, compare and compete. We call this the Need for Speed Autolog.”

In a nutshell, they’ve included everything you would expect from a basic social networking site and not only included it in the game, but also made it accessible via the web and mobile phones. Everything you do in the game is compared to what you’re friends are doing, whether they’re your PSN friends, your Facebook friends or just people you met playing the game.

“It can be a bit depressing to see a leaderboard and discover you’re ranked 10 millionth in the world, or something like that,” added McConkey “so we’re looking to drive rivalry between friends foremost.”

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is out on November 16, 2010.

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