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With police pursuits reintegrated into the game, Hot Pursuit's gameplay now consists of two categories. The first encompasses standard racing, as it has been in its predecessors, The Need for Speed and Need for Speed II, in which the player is allowed to race against one (including split-screen races) or seven other racers in normal circuit racers, knockouts, or tournaments (which allow the player to unlock bonus vehicles and a bonus track). The second category is dubbed "Hot Pursuit", where police pursuits are included in races; the mode allows the player to select a standard sports car to race against a single opponent in a police-scattered track. Two modes were introduced in the game. The two-player split-screen mode allows two players to race using the same computer. The "Knockout" mode consists of 7 races with 8 racers on randomly chosen tracks, in which conditions such as selected difficulty, weather, and so on that the player has chosen before starting the race-series will apply. Each race consists of two laps where the driver who finishes last will be eliminated from the race lineup. All other drivers advance to the next round and carry on with the battle until there is only one player left, who technically wins the knockout competition. Racing tracks are greatly varied, with settings ranging from wide desert canyons to homely countryside villages, as well as snow-capped mountain ranges. A particular track in the game is even host to a modern and intricate structure identified as the Electronic Arts development office. Most tracks contain one or more secret shortcuts which can dramatically alter the outcome of a race.
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