The game looked slower than Burnout Paradise, perhaps a result of the unfinished frame-rate. But once we got our hands on the game - much was forgiven. Criterion know racing games inside out, and it shows once again in Hot Pursuit.
Our demo placed us in a run-away Lamborghini. There's a stunning clarity to the game's visuals. What most impressed us was the way the setting changed; the country scenery was gradually replaced by a more built-up area, and the burning sun faded into the night-sky.
Unfortunately we didn't get much of a sense of the race taking place around us. The game focuses strongly on your tussle with the police, and that can make it hard to concentrate on other elements of the race. Police will affect the race in numerous ways, by deploying spiked hazards on the road and trying to knock your vehicle off route. The battle is genuinely fun, but we're not sure whether it's going to carry the entire game. Then again, Burnout was never just about simply outrunning the opposition, so we assume Criterion's got plenty of variety planned.
Most satisfying was our ability to affect the race with our own weapons. Numerous times we dropped our own set of spikes on the road, only to be rewarded by the satisfying notification that we'd duped our opponent off the track.
Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit's main hook is going to be in its social multiplayer extension. We weren't able to get a taste for that in our demo. It's the social interaction, and competent race mechanics, that are going to propel Need For Speed beyond the sum of its parts though.