Need for Speed is a line of arcade car racing games, and NFS: Hot Pursuit 2 is one of the many in the line. This game has cheap thrills, sure, but the realism is absolutely terrible for a blockbuster software house. Now, let's be honest: I've seen much worse. There's some game out there called Big Rigs Over the Road that is completely laughable.
However, for a Need for Speed game, this is subpar.
NFS:HP2 is the same premise as NFS III: Hot Pursuit -- you race supercars, the cops try to gang up on you and shut you down. The circuits are okay, but the realism is terrible. There is some challenge, but it is miniscule.
Now I understand why this won Console Racing Game of the Year at the 6th Annual Interactive Achievement Award : the kiddies who would play this on PS2 probably could eat it up. I was on a PC laptop, though -- different gaming experience.
In fact, let's talk realism: The tracks are walled with scenery, with very little in the way of obstacles. In fact, in trying to advance in the game, I sometimes would just load up races and press the accelerator button and zone out to my TV. The car would bounce around the track, but there is no real damage model or penalty for hitting things. I actually could win without even trying. The AI is pretty dumb for this game, and the cops logically could have stopped me in a lot of situations where they didn't - only because the AI is subpar.
Driving realism is nada here, and the damage realism is nothing but unnatrual. but I did find the most fun comes from the middle stages of the game when you are racing in BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Classes and Tickford-engineered Australian Ford Falcons, and the like. The earlier cars are not as fun, and the later cars drive way too fast and take hits way too hardily.
Overall, don't waste your money unless you enjoy a cartoonishly arcadey game or are new to driving games. I'll stick with a few other pieces of the NFS franchise for better enjoyment.