Why Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit May Be More Fun Than Gran Turismo 5

December 3, 2010 Written by Mike Hartnett

There’s been a lot of controversy as of late surrounding a certain racing title developed by Polyphony Digital. That title is, of course, none-other than Gran Turismo 5. Well, most individuals have been presented with a choice. Go with the ultra-realistic simulation experience that is Gran Turismo 5, or settle down with the other hot racer on the market. Yes, you know which one I’m talking about… Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. I’m here not only here to explain to you why this particular game is so incredible, but that it’s hands down more fun than anything Gran Turismo 5 has to offer.

Editor’s Note – The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of PlayStationLifeStyle.

Starting off, I want to state that in no way do I intend to offend those who are fans of the Gran Turismo series, as I am a huge fan myself, one who eagerly anticipated the release of Gran Turismo 5. With limited funds and two AAA choices, I was faced with a dilemma. Go with the classic simulation-style of play associated with the Gran Turismo series, or take a chance with the latest Need for Speed title which is now in the hands of Criterion Games. As you can already probably tell, I decided to go with the new Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, and boy am I glad that I did. I figured I’d make some comparisons between the two big racers, explaining just how much the new NFS stands out amongst the behemoth that is Gran Turismo 5, and here’s what I found…

Very few games can stir up as much passion in me as the new Need for Speed managed to do over these past few weeks, as there are certain aspects of this game that truly standout in ways that Gran Turismo 5 just doesn’t. Now, when I ran to the hilltops proclaiming that Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit was, in my opinion, the better racer, I was met with the same argument, which was that we’re talking about two completely different racing genres; arcade vs. simulation. To an extent, this notion is true, but quickly forgotten once you get your hands on both games. Despite the heavy customization options found in Grand Turismo 5, there are some areas where Need for Speed just pummels the competition.

First off, Need for Speed just looks way better. Polyphony Digital can go on about how they’ve utilized a trillion polygons to develop some of these new GT5 cars, but the argument pretty much ends there if those polygons are going to be wasted on the same mundane tracks, environments, and equally mundane cars. Need for Speed visuals are larger than life, with my jaw left sitting on the floor half the time from just staring at these gorgeous environments. What do you get with Gran Turismo 5? Professional driver… closed course… not a ton of excitement. But with Need for Speed the world is your racetrack, or at least Seacrest County is, which is ridiculously large, mind you. You can honestly drive around for hours-on-end and never see the same spot twice; it’s like you’re in a living, breathing world.

But oh yes, we were talking about environments. This is one of the most impressive areas in the Need for Speed arsenal, and anything found in Gran Turismo 5 pales in comparison. Let’s just discuss the weather effects for a moment. The weather effects in Gran Turismo 5 are beautifully done, probably the best you’ll see in any game, however most of these moments are pre-made, never really spontaneous and pretty much cut-off at the rain/snow level. Now take Need for Speed. Not only can rain storms spontaneously start, but the severity can actually increase. This, coupled with the presence of lightning storms, which don’t even require rain to start, adds an incredible sense of realism. And yes, there’s even more; Need for Speed does indeed feature snow storms and, while not always heavy, are pretty darn awesome. The streets even acquire an icy sheen when driving up into the snowy mountains. Add to this the presence of falling leaves, flocks of birds, planes and even fighter jets, and you’ve got yourself one heck of an emotionally driven artistic masterpiece.

Now, I’ll agree, Gran Turismo 5 has an impressive roster of cars, and I was very much expecting to be disappointed with the selection found in Hot Pursuit, but, oddly enough, I wasn’t. Just thinking about GT5 took me back to the good ol’ days, where I would spend countless hours in the dealerships and garages, trying to find the perfect car, and then mod it to my heart’s content. But oh yeah, only after I’ve raced the same tracks over and over again in an effort to accumulate the funds necessary to purchase such a car. In Need for Speed, that’s not a problem. Not only are the initially unlocked cars exotic and fun, but the process of unlocking them is as well. Races, one-on-one challenges, and hot pursuits are by far more fun and rewarding compared to the bland style that is present with GT5. Some may even be under the delusion that the selection of cars in Hot Pursuit is ridiculously small like in past games, but this just isn’t true. The roster of cars in NFS this time around far outweigh those found in the original Hot Pursuit games, and they take quite a bit of time to unlock. Did I mention that the overall engine sounds in GT5 border on awful when taken straight from the show floor, and lack any sort of muscle? Yeah, well there’s no shortage of muscle in Need for Speed, as the engines roar with grit and power. And no, they’re not just made to sound cool, they’re pretty darn close to the real thing and offer one heck of a thrill ride.

Now let’s discuss the online and social networking options available in Need for Speed. Not only are you constantly racing against your friends’ best times, but there’s actually a live log and Facebook-style wall where you can brag about it! This is known as Autolog, and is one of the coolest social implementations to hit game in quite some time. You can also post pics taken in-game directly from your PS3, then access them on your PC which is pretty darn cool. Add to this the incredibly fun Need for Speed online modes that, while sometimes repetitive, never seem to get old, and you have an experience that leaves GT5 in the dust.

And if I hadn’t made it clear throughout this entire editorial, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is just downright more fun than anything rolling out of Polyphony Digital’s garage. There is certainly no shortage of epic moments in this game. Whether your tearing through single-player mode to rank-up as a cop or a racer, throwing down spike strips to take out your friends online, or just relieving a bit of stress by driving around in free-ride mode. I know I sound like a politician, but if you want more of the same, go right ahead and purchase Gran Turismo 5, it’s still a very solid title which has garnered many great reviews (10/10 from us) and stands as the pinnacle of simulation racing games, however if you want an adrenaline rush that just keeps on delivering, take a shot with Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, I highly doubt you’ll regret it.