"Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration, Don't Fail Me Now!"
Ever seen the movie The Blues Brothers? Remember the movie's predilection for police pileups? Did you giggle like a school girl when John Candy in patrol car 55 flew into the side of an 18 wheeler? Have you ever wanted to recreate those scenes, but feared arrest, prison, and those nasty encounters with men who had been inside too long?
Well, your time has come! You may release your desires! Need For Speed 3: Hot Pursuit has arrived! Praise the LORD! This little amphetamine puppy kicks some major asphalt. We have here the best looking, best handling, best track possessing, and most cinematic racing game of all time. It is almost as though the god of computer gaming came down in a beam of light and inspired the designers of NFS3 to the glory of silicon heaven. [Preach it, brother! -Ed]
The first thing you notice when you start up NFS 3 is the very, very slick interface. From the start you can see the time and care that was put into this game. Logos of car companies flash by in the background, all options are very intuitively available, and never do you have to click through several menus to do something basic like select a track. Instead all options are readily available, the only things hidden in the back menus are more information and some specific esoteric options. The entire thing feels eminently comfortable and gets you in the mood for some righteous racing.
Once you select what type of race you want (Single Race, Hot Pursuit, Split Screen, and Multiplayer), select your car, select your track, configure any last minute options (like weather, controls, and time of day), you find yourself in the race, beholding the glory. What glory it is indeed! This is the best looking racing game ever made bar NONE. The most noticeable feature is the environmental reflections on all of the cars. Every racer in this game seem to be covered in supergloss and reflect their surroundings. Neat!
Next you'll notice the simple beauty of the tracks. Transparencies, colored lighting, well detailed textures, it all just comes together to provide an amazing graphical gaming experience. What we have here is the Unreal of racing games. However, I strongly recommend a 3Dfx card, without one the graphics take a swan dive into a pool that lacks water. This game is only for those with hardware acceleration.
Once you get through squealing and giggling like a school girl at the amazing graphics and all little special effects touches, like dirt and leaves kicked up by your car's tires, falling rain, and light beams, you'll start squealing and giggling all over again at how cool the racing is. Unlike NFS 2 in which you had occasion to drive such $900,000 uber-sportscars as the infamous McLaren F1, NFS 3 has you driving cars that are decidedly more in the $200,000 sportscar class found in the original The Need For Speed.
Instead of the McLaren F1 being the fastest four wheeled highway patrol antichrist, the Lamborghini Diablo SV is as far as NFS 3 goes. The main difference boils down to 231 or 208, you know what I am talking about. Also unlike NFS 2, the cars handle fairly realistically, again, like they originally did in The Need For Speed. In fact, the entire game feels like the true sequel to NFS.
NFS featured some loop tracks, but most were linear and exceptionally long. NFS 2 took the loop-only rout as does NFS 3. The difference being that the looping tracks in NFS 3 are about three times as long as those found in NFS 2, a nice mix of 1 and 2.
Now, I know that some NFS 2 ultra-speed-freaks are going to be a little miffed with NFS 3's more realistic handling. In fact, I have heard it described as sluggish by that self-same group. However, this game was meant for the huge fan base of NFS and on that level it has exceptional car handling. In fact, the extra challenge in controlling the car makes the game all that much more satisfying, especially given the fact that tricky maneuvering is often requiredí¯Â¿Â½
í¯Â¿Â½In the game's Hot Pursuit mode, the single greatest racing experience in the computer world. In this mode you are either a deplorable scofflaw who must outrun and outmaneuver the fine employees of the Highway Patrol, or you can be the pig yourself.
As a speed freak you must bash through road blocks, avoid spike strips, listen in on you police radio to what the pigs have in store for you, and above all else, run like hell and leave those government poodles breathing your gaseous emissions. It is easily the most exiting PC Racing available anywhere. I will never forget, for the rest of my life the time when two pigs where approaching in front of me. Two civilians swerved to avoid and did a head on in front of me perpendicular to my direction. They bounced apart just far enough for me to squeeze through in a shower of sparks just as the pigs slammed into those startled Sunday drivers while I laughed my ass of and rode into the sunset. See what I mean by cinematic?
As the fuzz, the game takes on almost a strategic feel. You are not as fast or nimble as the cars you are chasing and as a result, you must plan you attacks with care. You can do 4 important things: set down spike strips, target a car and sick your co-pigs on it, set up road blocks, and get the hell in the way of the suspect. Your goal is to ticket them more than once per lap and arrest their sorry rich boy asses.
To add to the fun, the game includes a challenging single racer mode that you'll find just as hard as those in NFS, a split screen head to head mode, and excellent multiplayer. You also have 1 bonus track to uncover, 1 bonus car to discover, and an unlimited supply of official add on cars to download from EA's website.
The fun just keeps going and going and goingí¯Â¿Â½ This is the best racing game I have played this year if not the best racing game I have ever played in my life. It's got everything: 13 great cars, 8 really cool tracks, excellent play modes, jaw dropping graphics kick ass production valuesí¯Â¿Â½ it just brings a tear to my eye. This game is very nearly perfect and if you like PC Racing in all its infinite glory, you must get this game. Feel the need I say! Feel the need! If you don't, you are either a communist, or a pig.