Please Pursue Making Games Like This Again
HIGH Gettin’ dat Bugatti.
LOW The soundtrack didn’t get any better with age.
WTF Lamborghini cop cars = Defund The Police.
I’m not sure how this happened, but I’ve officially been christened the “Need For Speed Guy” here at GameCritics after reviewing the godawful Need For Speed Payback and the decent little rebound that was Need For Speed: Heat. However, even with Heat being relatively solid, it’s hard not to look back at EA’s seemingly-unkillable franchise and see that it stumbled hard this generation.
The last of the real bangers was 2010’s Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit. Criterion Games, who worked on the deliriously fantastic Burnout series beforehand, got handed the keys to one of the most popular franchises on Earth and absolutely ran with it. Combining the exquisite handling of Burnout with NFS‘s trademark police chases in real-life cars, Hot Pursuit revitalized a franchise that was struggling to find an identity. Maybe they can find it again with the help of this remaster.
I’ll be honest — I don’t like racing games that take place in grid-based cities. Slowing down to do a 90-degree turn while driving into oncoming traffic one can’t see is never something that worked for me. Hot Pursuit wisely stays away from that type of design and plays closer to something like F-Zero than the recent Need For Speed games with long stretches of highway and elongated curves for exaggerated drifting. The map of fictional Seacrest county is connected, but races are split into fragmented parts of the map and reached from a menu. Traffic exists, but it’s sporadic and easy to maneuver around.
Accentuating this design is the drifting. Criterion already mastered the art from their previous franchise, and driving sideways around curves while lightly feathering the analog stick to veer around slow-moving traffic has never been this enjoyable. Do cars actually work this way? Not really, but when did that matter? Over the last fifteen years, this franchise has tried to dance a weird line between simulation and arcade to mostly underwhelming results, so rewinding back to a more arcade-style flavor is a good thing.
This “all in the name of a good time” mentality makes its way into the progression and general design as well.
The folks at Criterion were some of the first to recognize that nobody likes driving a Honda Civic for the first five hours of a racer. The first car in Hot Pursuit is a Porsche 911 convertible, and they only get more baller from there. Does it offer endless car customization and stats to tweak? Nope, just drivin’ fast and havin’ a ball. They also do a smart thing with “preview events” — periodically during the campaign, players will be able to do a one-time race with a late-game hypercar to wet their whistles.
Another perk is that even though it’s a decade old at this point, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit feels surprisingly modern due to the “Autolog” system that tracks data and displays leaderboards after every race. There’s also a wall where players can post scores, tag their friends, invite players into their game, and let the player know every time one of their buddies beats their times. While fairly rudimentary in comparison to the social integration of modern titles, it was pretty darn revolutionary for its time and remains a viable system a decade later.
Unfortunately, while it’s fantastic to revisit this material and this remaster is a marked improvement, the enhancements aren’t enough to make anyone with a decent PC and a license for the original version want to buy this one.
The biggest addition here is the inclusion of cross-platform play — a positive — and there are extra enhancements for PS4 Pro and an Xbox One X as the game can be played in either a performance-based mode that runs at a rock-solid 60fps at 1080p, or in full 4K at a less stable 30FPS. Otherwise, there’s not much to differentiate it from the older version. As an owner of enhanced consoles, I do wish that maybe some more work was done to see if we could’ve got a higher resolution option for 60FPS, but what’s here is remastered well
One thing that did need some attention (and didn’t get it) is the soundtrack, which is a weird mash-up of sterile Europop and hip-hop tracks that were pretty flat upon release in 2010, and downright terrible in 2020. Hey, remember when Jared Leto thought he could sing and started a terrible rock band? Wanna be reminded of that every time the game boots up? Probably not, but it’s gonna happen. The soundtrack does improve when cops get involved and the music switches to a thumping orchestral score. It isn’t memorable, but it’s nowhere near as grating.
Despite some slight disappointment from thinking about what else this remaster might have offered, the giant grin on my face while playing was impossible to remove. Being able to play on consoles at 60FPS makes it a monumental upgrade over the older versions, and the core experience has aged surprisingly well. Despite the fact that this is a fairly modest remaster package, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit remains one of the finest arcade racers in recent memory, and anyone with even a slight interest in the genre should jump behind the wheel.
Disclosures: This game was originally developed by Criterion Games, was ported by Stellar Entertainment, and is published by Electronic Arts. It is currently available for PS4, XBO, Switch, and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Approximately 12 hours of play were devoted to playing the game testing the single-player and multi-player components. The campaign was not completed, but the reviewer has completed the game in its original form.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E10 for Everyone Aged 10 & Up and features Violence. I guess car crashes are violent, but not really here. The game even tells players to always buckle their seat belts and not speed in real life. Parents should have no concerns here.
Colorblind Modes: The game features no colorblind modes.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game features subtitle options for the (very few) cutscenes and they are presented in thin white font. The size of the text is not remappable. All dialogue and instructions are provided in text, and there are no necessary audio cues. I’d say it’s fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: The games controls are completely remappable.
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