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Need for Speed: High Stakes

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Publisher: Electronic Arts
Category: Racing
Platform: PS1, PC
ESRB Rating: Everyone    Release Date: March 1999

Overall Rating: 3 Stars out of 4

Review by Tom Allen
3 Stars out of 4
(Review of PS1 version)

The fourth installment in the series, Electronic Arts' Need for Speed: High Stakes sticks to its successful formula as one of the only games that lets you be the cops.

The goal in Hot Pursuit mode is to avoid cops, road blocks, and spike belts. If you get pulled over for speeding, you get a warning on the first offense. The second offense sends you packing for jail time with Big Gay Al. As the South Park song goes, "he's super."

To play as the cops in Hot Pursuit mode, choose the Caprice on the car select screen. As a cop, you can request back-up or the deployment of spike belts and road blocks. Just press and hold L1 to call the shots. Cornering serious speeders is no easy task. Press the circle button to make tight turns or spin out in front of moving vehicles. You might need a virtual army to capture some of the offenders.

High Stakes lets you press Select to recover from crashes quickly. This feature is greatly appreciated. Being saddled on the side of the road for even a few seconds can dramatically affect your enjoyment of the game. Action movies don't stop when the hero falters. Why should racing games be any different? Get penalized and move on.

Another feature allows two players to literally battle over saved car data on each other's memory card. This is a good way to lose friends. I can't imagine anyone actually using this.

High Stakes reflects a new trend in the genre. You can switch audio tracks during actual game play. Cool.

Unfortunately, the game has surprisingly painful load times. Isn't it funny how we can recover from crashes at the press of a button but still have to suffer through endless load times?

High Stakes is a good title, but it leaves you wanting more. Plus, I'd like to see a Nintendo 64 version.

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