Need For Speed Hot Pursuit

This is getting embarrassing...

STOP! That's a word of warning to anyone who sees this on the shop shelves and thinks it might have anything at all to do with the Xbox/PS3 car chase game of the same name. The one developed by the Burnout people. The one that's quite good.

Despite sharing the same box art, Hot Pursuit on Wii is an entirely different thing. In fact, it's really just a rehash of last year's Need For Speed Nitro - the one with the chunky toy car look and the entirely underwhelming gameplay.

The most interesting mode gives you a field of 99 other drivers, and you've got to get to 80th, 70th, 60th... all the way up to first before the time limit expires.

That certainly sounds good, as you rarely get that many opponents in a car game, but they've had to trade intelligence for numbers - these are 99 of the thickest drivers ever to get behind the wheel.

They're little more than moving roadblocks, and sometimes they barely even function as that. They clump together on corners, getting stuck in a tangle of polygons while the cars behind attempt to drive over the top.

When they flip over or become completely wedged they'll reset back in the middle of the track, and it's not uncommon to see cars vanish from a traffic jam and blink back into existence further down the road.

For some unfathomable reason there are cops in the other racing modes. Every time you bump into things you add a bit to your Wanted meter, and before you know it you'll have an entirely ineffectual police car gently nuzzling the sides of your vehicle before going away.

After several boring races you get to challenge a boss. The barriers are removed from the side roads, and you have to track down checkpoints amid a bland and anonymous maze of streets.

It's intensely annoying, and the slippery handling makes it hard to take corners at the last moment. How is anyone supposed to navigate this mess?

You can paint your car with a fat and imprecise brush, or add custom parts that don't seem to make any difference to its performance. There's a half-hearted selection of powerups to grab from icons on the road, and you can play split screen against your mates.

At no point does it ever seem fast, exciting or worthy of the Need For Speed name.

Our only highlight was when we got overtaken by a police car that had one of the other racers mounted on its roof.

It was awesome - the lights were flashing, the siren was wailing and these two vehicles were rutting at 90mph, their exhaust pipes melded together in the throes of automotive passion. And then they both vanished. A sad end to a sorry and somewhat cynical little game.

Order NGamer here and have it delivered straight to your door.

The verdict

The racing game equivalent of making a mug of lukewarm milky water, wafting a sealed box of PG Tips in its general direction and calling it a cup of tea.

Nintendo Wii
Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts
Racing / Driving