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Criterion Look Back at Need for Speed Hot Pursuit

Criterion Look Back at Need for Speed Hot Pursuit

July 15, 2012

If you missed last week’s post from the guys at Criterion Games, you can check out their look back at Burnout Paradise right here.

They’ve talked through their previous driving games: Burnout, Burnout 2: Point of Impact, Burnout 3: Takedown, Burnout Revenge and Burnout Paradise. Now let’s hear about their first Need for Speed game. It’s time for Hot Pursuit:

We started developing Hot Pursuit about a year after we finished Burnout Paradise. We’d spent all of that time supporting the release of the game with new cars, locations, challenges and game modes.  After almost four years in Paradise City, we were ready for a change of scene.

Like Most Wanted, Hot Pursuit is our take on a classic Need for Speed game.

We loved the original and wanted to reinvent the concept of Cops vs Racers for a new generation and bring a little of the Criterion house style into it in the process.

That meant fun, accessible handling, huge drifts and spectacular action in an epic open world. We love to play games with friends, so our games always a heavy focus on social play.

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit

We also wanted to play around with real cars.  Burnout was all about our own cars. We designed and built every one from the ground up, so the opportunity to bring some of our favourite real cars to life was like a dream come true.

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit

Need for Speed had moved a long way in embracing street racing and the cars that dominate that scene, but we dreamed of taking it back to its roots by reintroducing the exotics we’d loved driving since our first taste of Need for Speed on Panasonic 3DO.

And of course we had to build somewhere worthy of driving them. There’s no point handing over the keys to a McLaren F1, Lamborghini Reventón or Corvette ZR1 then driving circuits on a race track.

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit

We researched some of the greatest driving roads in the world and recreated them in the game. You get fast, exciting road routes through epic mountain ranges, spectacular coastline, dense forest and long desert straights.

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit

And where’s the fun, if there are no cops to chase you? We gave the cops of Seacrest County a fighting chance against you with a range of high-end exotic cop cars and let you play as either Cops or Racers to experience the thrill of pursuit from both sides. We also loaded your cars with a range of weapons designed to either take down fleeing suspects or shake off the cops.

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit

For Criterion, it’s key that friends are at the heart of the online experience, but because we weren’t always online when our friends were, we invented Autolog. It’s like Facebook at 200 mph. The game tracks your records in each event and broadcasts them to your friends enticing them back to try and beat you again. Autolog makes play Recommendations based on who’s been playing (and ruling) the game. You get a Speedwall for every event, so you can see how your friends performed, and if your phone’s smart enough to run our Autolog app, you can get updates while they play.

Games Radar gave us a perfect 5/5 and called it “The Best Racing Game of 2010” and Joystiq gave us 5/5 and said: “it both grabs the checkered flag for this year and may set a land speed record for this entire class of racer.” Finally, Destructoid gave us 95% and said “It delivers a near-perfect competitive experience, in a way that few games -- racing or otherwise -- can. Hot Pursuit is not only a defining moment for the series, but for arcade-style racing, period.”

We’re working around the clock to finish Need for Speed Most Wanted now, and we’re hoping you like it as much as Hot Pursuit. Hit comments with your thoughts or head over to and Like us to get all the latest updates.

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