Jalopnik is Live on Twitch at 4 p.m. ET Playing the Greatest Need for Speed Ever Made

No, it's not Most Wanted or Underground. We're playing Hot Pursuit 2.

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Gif: Steve DaSilva

It’s Tuesday, and you know what that means: time for a bunch of automotive writers to get into passionate arguments over inconsequential nonsense as a random racing game is played poorly in the background. It’s (almost) time for a stream over at twitch.tv/jalopnikdotcom at 4 p.m. ET. The centerpiece of today’s gathering? The greatest arcade racing game of all time.

That’s high praise, and in fairness there are old school racers I probably enjoy a little more than the PS2 version of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2. But when I consider the key principles of arcade racing: constant action, enjoyable but accessible handling, killer music, a strong stable of cars and sprawling track design, NFS HP2 checks every box. I can’t think of another game that does.

It’s important for me to explain why we’re playing the PS2 port of this 2002 masterpiece. Back in the day, gaming consoles weren’t the PCs in smaller packaging that they are now. Each had its own architecture, and porting games from one platform to another was a taller order than you’d think. So while the Xbox, GameCube and PC editions of NFS HP2 were developed by EA Seattle, the PS2 version — which would’ve enjoyed the biggest market presence — was created by Black Box Games on a completely different engine.

Hot Pursuit 2 is a strong game no matter where you play it, but the PS2 edition is a cut above the rest. The sense of speed is dramatically increased, the handling is tighter and the visuals are more detailed. That latter point is impressive alone, considering the PS2 was the least powerful of the sixth-gen consoles by a sizable margin. The PS2 port also had more content. It was such a critical and commercial success that Electronic Arts gave Black Box the deal to make every NFS for every home platform until the end of the decade.


Joining me for this stream will be José Rodríguez Jr. — who’s already excited at Hot Pursuit 2's inclusion of an E39 M5 — though Steve DaSilva, Andy Kalmowitz and Lalita Chemello tell me they’ll pop in at some point. You’ll know when Steve and Andy show up because they’ll be in the middle of an argument about whether or not this specific Hyundai Tucson is the best sports sedan ever made.