Click: So how did it come about that Criterion were asked to come on board with the Need for Speed franchise?
CS: We have always been fans of the Need for Speed games since back in 1994 when the first one appeared on 3DO. We asked if we could make one after we finished on Burnout Paradise and were delighted when we were given the green light.
Click: On paper it really is a match made in heaven – you guys have shown you’ve got a flair for the action packed with the Burnout series, and the non track based Need for Speed title were crying out for something new. Is this the game Criterion was destined to make?
CS: We always set out to make the best game we possibly can and give players great gameplay and innovation. We hope that Need for Speed fans will love our interpretation of the series and have lots of fun with it.
Click: The soundtracks have always been a highlight in both the Burnout and Need for Speed titles and we’ve always wondered what the process behind picking them was. Is it a case of picking from a pre-licensed pool that EA have access to, or can the team suggest their favourites for inclusion?
CS: We always pick songs that we feel will enhance the game experience, and ones that we like of course!
Click: Speed has always been one of the most important factors in Burnout games and it seems you’ve carried that over to Hot Pursuit – how has the inclusion of licensed cars affected that?
CS: We always want to give our players the most incredible sensation of driving at high speeds and as all the cars featured in Hot Pursuit are high performance exotics they lend themselves perfectly to this.
Click: Will the car damage be to the same level of that in Burnout, or has the licensing bound your hands a little in that respect?
CS: For Hot Pursuit the aim is to keep everything within the bounds of reality and possibility, including car damage. We found that the manufacturers have been very accommodating of our plans for damage in the game and weren’t restrictive at all... We were actually quite surprised with what they wanted us to do to the cars!
Click: Approximately how many cars in total will feature in the game?
CS: We had the choice of all the World’s most desirable and exotic cars here, and our philosophy is that the first car you drive has to be exciting. So the slowest car in the game can do 150MPH and as they just go from hot to hotter... without going into any specific detail about the amount and models of cars, you can certainly expect all your exotic car fantasies to be fulfilled!
Click: When we spoke to Slightly Mad Studios who developed last year’s NFS Shift they told us that there was a huge amount of time gone into studying the handling of the various cars, including a lot of track time – have you guys managed to get behind the wheel of any exotic motors during the development process?
CS: In Need for Speed Hot Pursuit the goal is to bring to life the personality of these incredible cars but at the same time ensuring that everyone can have a great time driving them at high speeds. We do spend a lot of time studying handling and drive the cars featured in the game whenever possible so that we can transfer the often difficult reality of that into a fun experience for our players to all enjoy. We want people to drives these cars the way they’ve always dreamed they could.
Click: Obviously Hot Pursuit is a very different game to Shift, but in terms of the new direction you’ve nudged things in, what are the main differences and new additions?
CS: We wanted to take Need for Speed back to its roots and focus on exotic cars, epic drives and police chases for this one. We are also very passionate about bringing friends and social competition to the fore in the game. So this is our interpretation of Need for Speed for a connected generation.
Click: What kind of game modes can we expect?
CS: There will be a number of game modes in Hot Pursuit; so far we have only been showing off the 1 vs 1 Interceptor mode where a cop goes head to head with a racer – a mode which shows how we are capturing the intensity of real life cop chases in the game. We plan to make this a big and diverse experience for everyone to enjoy as either cops or racers so expect a lot more to follow.
Click: The online side of Burnout Paradise was a runaway success; will we be seeing many similarities with Hot Pursuit’s online multiplayer? A lot has already been made of the proposed fluidity of the Autolog system, but can we expect a similar experience to that of Paradise?
CS: As with all our games we always try to evolve the experience and bring something fresh to our players. Whilst things such as making your friends central to the game, making it easy for people to play and have fun online are constants for us, Autolog in particular will bring a number of innovations as well and we think will change the way people play the game.
Click: Criterion continued to support the Paradise and add new features long after its launch. How much of that ethos will be returning with Hot Pursuit?
CS: With Burnout Paradise we learned a lot about our players and their playing habits that will benefit Hot Pursuit, it has taught us not to make assumptions, if nothing else, as our players are always full of surprises! We will always look to support and engage with our players.
Click: Is the huge growth in online gaming taking anything away from the single player experience in your opinion? While we love playing against our friends online, there’s a lot to be said for a solid, involving single player career mode – what can we expect from that side of Hot Pursuit?
CS: In Hot Pursuit we will deliver a great experience for all players whether they choose to play solo, connected or online with their friends.
Click: What kind of weapons are going to be available in the player’s armoury, and how are we going to access them – will they be car dependent, do we buy them, or do they become available during pursuits?
CS: There will be a host of weapons and equipment for both sides that will be earned as you play through the game. We gave a taste of these at E3, showcasing the cop’s ability to call in road blocks and the racer’s ability to jam the cop’s radar so they could give them the slip, the weapons and equipment will add a lot of variety and depth throughout the game.
Click: Are you planning on having a demo available for people to download nearer the release date?
CS: We couldn’t possibly say. Yet!
Click: And finally, when can we expect to see Need for Speed Hot Pursuit hit shelves?
CS: 19th November 2010