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Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 Preview

publisher: EA Studios
developer: EA
genre: Racing

PII 400, 64MB RAM, 16MB Video Card, 100MB HD
ESRB rating: E

release date: Oct 21, 02
» All About Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 on ActionTrip

One of the most highly acclaimed racing games of all time finally gets a brisk sequel, which will soon be coming out for the PC (Xbox and PS2 versions have already been released in the US). Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 will re-enhance the aspects of gameplay that made the original game prominent. You'll be treated to 20 elite and flashy licensed in-game cars, which include Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, and others. The development team also promised to deliver visually stunning environments, that now have a lot more details and varieties on the open road (you know, stuff like river crossings, waterfalls, beaches, volcanoes, brush fires, etc.). Once you choose your favorite car, you are given the opportunity to test its efficiencies through 20 courses. Besides numerous challenges, the tracks will also be quite lengthy (some are longer than 15 miles). Also, the gameplay will be more dynamic thanks to the pestering cops that'll desperately try to nail you for speeding, and as we've learned their AI was greatly improved... The best part is that now you'll be able to sit behind the wheel of a police car (if you should so prefer), and pursue those disgraceful and hasty drivers.

Yeah, I know it all sounds pretty cool, doesn't it? To let you know more about this exciting game, we've prepared a nice little Q&A with the development crew.

Action Trip: Everyone knows that the Need For Speed series is all about flashy cars and catchy visuals. So with that in mind, can you share more info on the eye-candy in the PC version of the game? Will there be some subtle differences between the PC and PS2 versions (besides the possibility of playing in higher resolution modes of course)?

Elctronic Arts: I have played the PS2 game at length, and I can say with a straight face that in my view it's easily one of the best racers out there for any system. That said, graphically the PC game is going to take advantage of many things that PS2 hardware can't. For instance, the PC features full multi-texturing, stencil-buffered car shadows, cubic environment mapping, and anisotropic filtering (a filter mode that allows for extremely crisp texture appearance). If that's all too technical for you... suffice it to say that the PC platform allows us to jack up the poly counts for both our cars and the driving environments.

AT: But more specifically, do you plan to include high-res textures in the PC version?

EA: Specifically, yes. For instance, our car textures are probably twice as large as the PS2.

AT: Have you made any improvements to the game's interface? Any changes to the cockpit view? Have you added more camera views?

EA: We have added car-specific, licensor-approved gauges to the cockpit view. We tweaked our classic Need For Speed cameras and added an all new "birds-eye view" camera. At first, we used the birds-eye cam purely for testing purposes, but our test team liked it so much we found that some of them preferred it. That was all the incentive we needed to include this top down camera view in our finished game.

AT: What work has been done on the courses (track design)? Any special "obstacles" on the road you'd care to reveal? I hear talk of a bustling street traffic and natural elements... Give us some examples.

EA: Along the main drives, you'll find objects such as road signs, markers, construction cones, etc. By taking shortcuts, you'll tend to run into more pedestrian items such as picnic benches and caf' tables. As to what else you'll find, you'll have to play the game to find everything...

AT: Are the tracks bigger than in Need For Speed 3: Hot Pursuit?

EA: In a word, Yes. The tracks are HUGE in this game. If you like longer laps, then this is definitely the game for you.

AT: In terms of how they handle on the road, in what way have you made the licensed in-game cars similar to their real-life counterparts? I realize this is an arcade racer, but have you tried to keep some car properties true to life, and to what extent? Surely, a Porsche will handle differently at high speeds than the Lamborghini Diablo.

EA: HP2 physics are solidly grounded in a 4-point physics model. We model the cars all the way down to the tire type, lateral forces on all tires, effect of body roll and dive on handling, etc. This, coupled with accurate technical data we gather from the manufacturers, provides the basic character and feel of each of the cars in the game. We then take this accurate and realistic base and layer on systems, which compensate for the fact that players aren't actually in the car, and is therefore somewhat removed from the subtle cues that would allow them to handle these beasts. The result is an arcade-driving model that feels like the real thing, but is smart enough to anticipate what you are trying to do, making even the most novice of gamer able to handle 500+ horsepower.

AT: Tell us a bit more about the damage model. Our readers are anxious to know how that will work in the game.

EA: HP2 uses a new damage system that features model deformation, texture swapping and particle effects to give our vehicles a damaged look (Sweet indeed - ed.).

AT: So what happens exactly when you get busted?

EA: Same thing as in real life... if you get busted, your race is over. Our cops play hardball, so you'd better do all you can to outrun the long arm of the law.

AT: Have you made some additions/improvements to the cop AI? And if so, can you tell us what those might be?

EA: We re-built the cop AI this year from the ground up. Our goal was to ensure that the cops were able to exhibit different behaviors and interception tactics based on the context of the race. In Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2, you'll see the cops adapt to the user's progress in a given event and adjust their tactics as necessary. Aside from the standard Crown Victoria police cruisers, you'll encounter cops with bigger budgets-and larger engines. HP2 cops have been known to intercept perps in Porsches, Vipers, Lamborghinis and other exotics. If that's not enough to put the fear of the law in a speeder's heart, they may just throw in roadblocks, spikestrips and helicopters... if you're worthy.

AT: What about the in-game music? Can you give us a basic overview?

EA: Sure. Hot Pursuit 2 presents a mix of older and newer artists that you'll definitely enjoy driving to. For instance, we've got tracks from such established acts such as Bush, Rush and Uncle Kracker. Plus, our title track (my favorite song on the soundtrack) comes from a band called Hot Action Cop. They look like they're going to be really big in 2003.

AT: Finally, why in the hell did you leave out YUGO from the game!? I hear the license is rather cheap to obtain, and surely, if you push it off a high cliff, YUGO can achieve admirable speeds. About the same as a Ferrari!

EA: You're right about the falling Yugo theory. But imagine what speed you can achieve if you push a Ferrari off a high cliff! (I think Newton is currently turning over in his grave...)



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