10 years after its debut for PS3 and Xbox 360, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit has made its way to modern consoles in a Remastered form.
Back in 2010, I spent countless hours playing Hot Pursuit on PS3. To me, it was the pinnacle of racing games at the time in almost every aspect from its gorgeous visuals and weather effects to the perfect blend of taking out racers with spike strips and EMPs as well as merely enjoying simple tense races during day or night. Of course, I should have known not to expect anything less from the makers of Burnout Paradise which was my previous favourite racing title.
What makes Need for Speed Hot Pursuit unique is its mode of the same name. A map of Seacrest County makes up the main form of navigation where you choose events either from the perspective of a racer or a police officer and apparently both have about the same respect for the law. Within either mode, you're equipped with weapons to take down your opponents whether they be racers gone wild or a police officer who just won't let you have your Sunday drive. These weapons include the previously mentioned EMPs and spike strips as well as helicopters, blockades, and jammers.
Using weapons effectively can be tough as you don't want to release a spike strip too early and give the person behind you chance to dodge it. Similarly with EMPs, you need to keep someone in front within range to have it activate. In the heat of the chase, taking out an opponent with a weapon remains thrilling no matter how many times you do it. Of course, you can also choose to simply smash into other cars to take them out which has its charms and is more along the lines of classic Burnout gameplay.
Another gameplay element shared with the Burnout series is the ability to gain nitrous by doing unlawful things such as driving into oncoming traffic or narrowly missing someone as you just about scrape by them without a crash. Being constantly challenged to drive recklessly while winning the race or taking down a crazy racer keeps the tension at a consistent high level.
When you want a more leisurely drive, you can try an event from a familiar selection such as races, duels, and time trials. These modes don't really offer anything particularly unique but I enjoyed the fact that I didn't have to constantly wait for the right moment to unleash weapons and could take break from that every now and then. There's also something to be said for attempting a gold in a time trial without other drivers constantly harassing you. Anyway, as you complete events and accomplish random tasks such as drifting or crashing a certain number of times, you'll gain points that have you level-up in your career as a racer or a cop which unlocks additional vehicles and weapons. There's a constant reward cycle and levelling up your weapons can make all the difference in later races.
With Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered being on this generation of consoles, you might expect a big improvement in graphics. Although it looks better than the average PS3 game, it merely approaches middle-of-the-road quality for PS4. After playing Forza Horizon 4 recently, it made the lower visual quality here stand out even more. Don't get me wrong; it does look great, especially the weather effects but I found myself often reminded that I was simply playing a remastered last-gen game.
Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered's soundtrack comes across like it's from a 2010 radio station so depending on your taste in music, you might love it or hate it. Having said that, the sound effects do a great job of keeping you in the moment, especially while you're listening to the wailing sirens of the police, constant radio chatter, and helicopters flying overhead.
A nifty addition to this version is the ability to play online against players on other platforms. I had no trouble being matched, especially considering I'd often find that there were only 1 or 2 other PS4 players in the event with the rest being on other platforms. Unfortunately, there's no local multiplayer which is a big missed opportunity for any racing game. Split-screen multiplayer with one player as the racer and the other as the cop seems like it would have been a ton of fun.
On top of cross-platform multiplayer, the DLC from the original is included which is expected for a remaster but I definitely appreciate getting new levels and vehicles to race around them with. Speaking of maps, one thing I would have loved to see with Hot Pursuit Remastered is more of a focus on the map itself. Instead of it merely being a menu, it would have been great to have a reason to drive around it while picking up collectibles or taking part in events such as stunts like you can in Burnout Paradise and Forza Horizon 4.
Even after 10 years, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered is bursting with some of the most thrilling racing gameplay out there.
- + Hot Pursuit mode provides hours of fun as either a cop or a racer
- + Quick cross-platform matchmaking
- + Leveling up in career mode is rewarding
- - Graphics are lacking next-gen detail
- - No local multiplayer