Aside from performance tweaking, there are things you can do with NFSHP2 which will generally make your gaming experience more enjoyable, and I've included a few below.
Disable Intro Logo and Movie
As great as the introductory chase sequence between the Ferrari, Lamborghini and Cop is, it gets a little tiresome the 55th time you see it running at startup. You can certainly skip it by pressing any key, but to automatically skip it (and the EA Games logo) every time you start NFSHP2 (and hence get to the Menu faster), do the following:
1. Go to the \Movies directory under your NFSHP2 directory
2. Rename the original movie files to something else. I recommend adding a BAK at the end of each file, e.g. hp2e.madbak. Don't delete these files; you may need them for future patches.
3. Create a new text document in the same directory. Typically you can do this by right-clicking in the directory, selecting New>Text Document. Rename this document to hp2e.mad. Do this for the other two movie files as well, naming them LogoE.mad and LogoS.mad.
Now every time you start NFSHP2, you should go directly to the Startup screen and bypass the logo and startup movie automatically. Note this tweak will only work if you are using the No-CD patch (see Patch section), as otherwise the game will simply load the movies directly from the game CD.
Import New Music
If you're getting tired of hearing the same default NFSHP2 tracks over and over and you just want a bit more variety in the game, try this handy NFS Music Importer from EA Games themselves. It was originally designed for Motor City Online, but can be used with NFSHP2 to convert any music you have in .mp3 .wav or .aiff format into the custom format used by NFS games. Go ahead, break out those Celine Dion tracks you love and start converting them now.
Once you've converted the songs that you want, simply rename them to Track0.asf, Track1.asf and so forth. Then go to the \Audio\Music directory under your NFSHP2 directory, rename the existing tracks in there (e.g. change their extension to .bak), or save them somewhere else, and replace them with your new tracks. Now you'll hear your new tunes while you drive.
Export the Existing Music
If you really like the music in NFSHP2, you may have discovered by now that you can't play them or burn them while they're in the existing (EA modified) .asf format. No matter which utility or standard conversion software you use, it won't recognize the format because it's a proprietary EA Games format. Luckily there is a free utility which can play and convert these files, and it's called Game Audio Player. Once you've downloaded and installed this utility, you can listen to (and convert to .wav) a variety of game music, not just NFSHP2. Make sure you also download the plugins for this utility.
Download New/Modified Vehicles
As with the other NFS games, you can download and import new or modified existing vehicles into NFSHP2. Some are officially released by EA Games, and you should check the Official NFSHP2 Site for those, while the vast majority are made by fellow enthusiasts. For example, you can currently download a range of vehicles from NFSCars and NFSUnlimited. To install these vehicles, do the following:
1. Download the vehicle file (usually in .zip format) and extract all the contents to an empty directory.
2. Typically there is a readme.txt file which comes with the file describing the type of vehicle and how to install.
3. The installation procedure usually involves copying the accompanying folder to sit under your \NFSHP2\Cars\ directory. However, before you do so, check to see if the directory already exists there, and if so backup the existing files in it (copy and rename them in the same folder) in case anything goes wrong.
That's all the neat stuff I know about now...check back for more as I find 'em!