Criterion’s Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit looks gorgeous and super fast. That was expected. It’s the amount of trash-talking that you’re going to end up doing with your friends that’s going to take you by surprise.
The developer has create a unique game hub which it’s calling “Autolog.” This hub not only keeps track of what you’re doing, but what your friends are doing, and how they’re progressing. The game is designed to constantly keep you up to date on player progress — game progression, records being set — and then shove it in your face. The idea is to get you to keep playing, the incentive to always be number one among your friends.
The idea is rather brilliant, and it looks like it’s really well-implemented in Hot Pursuit, but it’s not a new one. I always think of Bizarre’s Geometry Wars as the gold standard for how leaderboards and score-keeping should be done — it’s a game that (unless you look for it) doesn’t shove world leaderboards in your face, instead presenting the scores of people you care about: those on your friends list. It’s making these rivalries and high score goals immediate, tangible, and unavoidable that always kept me wanting to play “just one more game.”
If Hot Pursuit can do for racing what Geometry Wars did for me, I’m expecting some long, long nights ahead of me when the game ships in November. Cue “Eye of the Tiger.”