Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Interview

I’ve been to some swanky venues and have taken part in some extravagant PR events in my time here at SCEE, so it’s refreshing when a publisher keeps things simple. That’s exactly what EA did last week when it invited me and a few other bloggers and journalists to their Guildford offices with an undemanding itinerary: fizzy drinks, pizza and Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit.

In-between drifting at 200MPH, taking down street racers with spike strips and crashing sports cars that I’ll never afford, I grabbed an interview with the game’s creative director, Craig Sullivan.

Need for Speed - Hot Pursuit

Why is Criterion making a Need for Speed game all of a sudden?

While we were making the last Burnout game, in every interview we would be asked: “so when are you guys going to make a Need for Speed game?” I’ve been a big fan of the series since the original in 1994; in fact, I’d say that game is the reason I decided to get into the games industry.

We’d reached a point where Criterion [Games] had built up a pretty decent reputation for making fun driving games and we basically asked if we could make a Need for Speed game, which surprised some of the senior guys at EA. We were clear that it was going to be a Criterion take on a Need for Speed game, not a replica of Undercover or Most Wanted.

Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Interview

The Need for Speed series has gone through several different styles; where does Hot Pursuit fit into the picture?

I’ve obviously played them all, as has everyone in the office, and there are standout moments in each. For example, SHIFT has great audio; Most Wanted was the first to make me truly feel the scale of a full police force hunting me down, with spike strips and road blocks; and the original Hot Pursuit has beautiful locations and exotic cars.

We cherry-picked from what we like but from every idea that we took, we worked out how that should work in a Criterion game. We have road blocks, but the player is able to call them in whenever they like and they have gaps in them. Same with the spike strips – I don’t know where I got the idea but I wanted to drop the spike strips out of the back of my car as I was drifting around corners, creating a moving obstacle for people to deal with.


If you had a simulation like Gran Turismo at one end of a continuum and an arcade racer, like Burnout Paradise, at the other, where would Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit be?

The core tenet for us, making this game, is that it needs to be fun. It’s by the people that made Burnout but it isn’t Burnout, and the cars drive more realistically – we have the most advanced ‘real car’ simulator Criterion has ever produced. You can still drift at 200MPH, but everything else underneath is really new.

It’s hard to say… I’d put us slightly further towards Gran Turismo, in terms of realism, than Burnout, but to counter that, we have things like spike strips and EMPs. Of course, another huge difference is that Burnout featured fake cars but this time we have real vehicles and we treat them with as much respect as we can, when we’re not ramming them into cop cars.

It seems like only a few years ago that the idea of destroying licensed vehicles in a game was a big no-no. Is it just a change in climate or have you had to jump through many hoops to include that?

That’s something we were wary of from the outset. Cars come together all of the time in the kinds of games that we make and it’s not very satisfying if they bounce off each other and remain pristine. So with the damage, we decided to see how far we could push it. We approached the manufacturers and told them that we were going to treat their cars with the upmost respect and they were all quite receptive.

I think that they themselves have realised that there is this desire to crash cars in racing games. There are certain things we can’t do, such as have wheels coming off or the cars exploding – anything that makes them appear dangerous to drive – but apart from that we haven’t had too many problems.

Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Interview

You seem to have been very open in terms of giving interviews and revealing details about the game relatively early on. Have we seen everything already?

You’re playing the full version of the game here today, pretty much, but you haven’t seen everything Seacrest County has to offer in terms of locations, weather and the day/night cycles that we have. Not everyone has seen all of the online modes that we have. Not everyone has seen the Autolog fully functional and working with their friends list. And not everyone has got to drive all of the cars; there have been a few leaks from people guessing but I think there are still going to be some fun in that area.

On top of that, there are over 100 events in the game and people at E3 and gamescom will only have seen three, maybe five, so there is still a lot of cool stuff waiting for you.

0 Author replies

I’m sure I prefer Shift over any of those Need For Speed games.

i am really interested in a demo before i buy this, it looks interesting but not something i would preorder right now, i am a big burnout fan so i am somewhat looking forward to this.

You guys have done a cracking job for a new Need for Speed HP game, looks awesome. Will there be an option to turn off the EMP in a race? I’m not so sure about that feature


I was exited about this game,
Im a big fan of the first Need for speed and probably a a bigger fan of Burn out. the first one the best again.
I did play a bit in the Eurogame expo and tbh I feel really disapointed
the game look great but is like the same game ever and ever.
I can’t wait to see an arcade game where if you crash a more of 50mph that is. you crash , slook really lame to crash incoming cars at 120mph and is the same to crash road signs or stuff.

I would love to have something like burn out the first one again, where dodging traffic is more important than unrealistic 300 mph and incoming traffic that behave like orange cones.

well, if it’s open world i’ll buy it. there’s a map of seacreast county, a post on twitter that SC is about 5 times as big as paradise city [i think] but no open world confirmed. maybe the map is just the net of tracks, some official on psblog said that it ain’t open world.
so please, you designed the city so make it open world! add some cops and missions and it’s a perfect game.

obiadekanobi1980 07 October, 2010 @ 15:39

cant wait the last few need for speeds have been rubbish with pro street the exception only because of the car editor was superb on it but this is looking good criterion well done if its half as good as burnout its going to be real fun cant wait to try and beat my mates time this sounds like a really clever part of the game hope loads buy it and ps plz plz plz start working on the next burnout game pls ive 100% every part of paradise city plus bought all the add ons so hurry up will ya lol

All i want to know is – can i use the ‘X’ button to Accelerate? :D

I like pizza :-p

I’m really going to need to find a spot for this game somewhere in my schedule…

This game is definitely on my list of games to watch. Other than GT5 (aka “Reason for owning a PS3”), this is the racing game I’m looking forward to the most. I don’t like the “kind of realistic but still totally arcade” racing games (like NFS Shift), I want my racing games to either be Gran Turismo or Burnout in terms of driving the cars. :)

Also, needs to have X to accelerate (and D-pad to steer). :) Make it an alternative control scheme. Gran Turismo has it, and so should all other racing games. PlayStation controllers have had pressure sensitive buttons for a decade now, there’s no reason not to use them.


This looks good! But I want NFS Porsche 2 to PS3 (OR IF EA CAN MAGE NFS PORSCHE TO PS3) IT WAS THE BEST GAME EVER! But It doesn’t work on my computer, so only hope is PS3.. PLEASE EA! MAKE NFS PORSCHE!!

Agree with Pro_espace72
Porsche was amazing :-)


well, this game just cant defeat gt5, unless they’re lookin for retro styled graphics (which is the only reason why im buyin this game over gt5)


Will we be able to access our music media during the game? If so I’m for sure getting this. And if not, well I’m seriously gonna consider getting Black Ops instead. Don’t wanna drive to music I don’t like hah. I know EA has done this in the past so they better have it for this game.


the demo is released tommorow any info about it??

our do you delay this demo 1 day on purpose, to add it to the store update??

i know xbox360 gets it tommorow

any confirmation about ps3 ?


Need for Speed Hot Pursuit’s demo arrives on the Xbox Marketplace and PlayStation Network for two weeks starting October 26th, giving you early access to Criterion Games’ latest high-octane action racer, which Games Radar says, “could redefine online racing forever”. When you download the demo, you’ll also receive 500 bounty points to put toward advancing your Cop and Racer careers when Hot Pursuit hits stores on November 16th.

In the demo, you’ll get a chance to try the revolutionary Need for Speed Autolog system, an in-game social network which tracks your performance against your friends. Speaking of which, adding one of your friends to your Autolog friends list will unlock a new event in the demo called Roadsters Reborn. There is also a Cop event where you’ll tear up the tarmac on Seacrest County’s majestic mountains, trying to bust as many Racers as you can. So start the countdown because Hot Pursuit’s demo is less than 24 hours away.

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