Game Reviews

Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered Review

There's something good to be said for simplicity.

by Kenny Keelan

 

When Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit first rolled around the corner ten years ago, studio Criterion brought a certain intensity to the Need For Speed franchise that was much needed, taking a concept from Need For Speed III: Hot Pursuit and giving it that trademark Criterion feel that people came to expect from its popular Burnout franchise. These days, it would seem that Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered accomplishes this again by giving us a straightforward arcade-style racer that makes no qualms about what it is and doesn’t get bogged down in the details, something that I feel the franchise sorely needed.

Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered does not waste a whole lot of time telling you what Seacrest County is about, why you’re racing, or giving you the ability to customize your car: you’re dropped into an overworld map and you’re given a small selection of cars to start with, and then you race. Compared to the Need For Speed games of today, where there is often a driving narrative, a large cast of characters, or tons of menus, options, and customizations, Hot Pursuit Remastered gives you a game where you’re expected to race and perform and that’s just about it. I mean, there’s also the option to take down racers as the cops but that’s it. You’re just expected to race and I feel like that’s really underappreciated these days.

Hot Pursuit Remastered offers a refreshingly straightforward racing experience that gets nostalgia perfectly right.

There’s been a lot of releases that came out recently that remastered older games and we get to witness a great example of what a remaster should be when it addresses a beloved game like Hot Pursuit was. A great amount of visual polish comes to this game: the cars look better, things have been added to the scenery on tracks, you can change the color of the car you race with, everything moves smoother and responds better; it’s where this game got the most attention and it was really the only area that needed a whole lot of noticeable modernization. There’s a great deal of quality of life additions when it comes to resolutions, sound quality, and ambient graphical qualities, but most of that is under the hood and isn’t really noticeable as you’re tearing across the game’s tracks. When you get the opportunity to slow down and look around during, say, a Takedown, you really get to appreciate some of these things.

When you boot the game up for the first time, you’re basically dropped into the game’s two main modes: racing in Seacrest County’s various areas while offline or online. The offline modes will pit you against random computer-controlled opponents who aren’t exactly the smartest of the bunch in any difficulties which seems to serve them just fine because there still seems to be a bit of rubber banding, leaving you with a decent challenge to finish first. Placing and performing certain tasks during each race earns you points called Bounty, which are collected to unlock different cars. In some races, the cops will try to take you and the other racers down by any means possible. As you progress, you will gain access to certain powerups that will help you take care of the cops and place as high as possible.

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The game’s just a bit more than simple races, though, as you have the chance to play as the aforementioned cops, whose aim is to take down or stop the racers and you collect more Bounty based on how many of the racers you can stop before you’re forced to stop, yourself. You’re not exactly presented a ton of advantages playing one mode over the other so each one presents its own challenges but feels similarly enough that you can flip between them without feeling like it’ll change your experience or that you have to change up your skillset.

Hot Pursuit Remastered is more than simply a visual remaster, though: the tracks now feature some small degree of destructible scenery, the tracks are designed a little smoother, especially where shortcuts are concerned, and the cars control and feel a little more realistically than before. All of the original’s DLC is also included, meaning this is not just a remaster but more like the typical “game of the year” editions that you used to see around the time the original released, giving you a more complete experience.

For those who might be burned out on old Need For Speed, there isn’t much new here.

There’s this Autolog feature that I didn’t quite catch the last time I was knee-deep in Hot Pursuit and I’m beginning to understand why: it seems to be a way to track the accomplishments of yourself and your friends to artificially create replay value. It feels like it was just as tacked on now as it was then and I really couldn’t justify why it’s so vital for it to be included other than for the few players who are extremely competitive and just want to top all the ranks.

Speaking of competitiveness, in the online arena, you have all of the modes available in single-player as well as the highly touted Most Wanted mode, where you play in a group of players who are divided between racers and cops, with an additional player who the racers are trying to protect from the cops. The concept really works well and I thoroughly enjoyed it in Hot Pursuit and there’s no change to that this time around.

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With Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered, you know exactly what you’re going to get, especially if you’ve played any of the previous Hot Pursuit games: a simple yet refined high-octane experience with tons of variety in terms of vehicles and tracks to choose from. Nearly every race is a different experience and you’ll quickly find yourself making progress quite quickly through the single-player modes. It’s the perfect mix of a simply excellent experience for everyone who might play and enjoy racing games, from newbies to fans of the series or of Hot Pursuit specifically, and there’s enough there to keep you from getting overly tired of the game so long as you don’t spend too much time playing the game in one sitting.

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Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered

  • Available On: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
  • Published By: Electronic Arts
  • Developed By: Electronic Arts, Criterion Games, Stellar Entertainment
  • Genre: Racing
  • US Release Date: November 6th, 2020
  • Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
  • Quote: "This game is an active exercise in the "don't fix what isn't broken" mentality, banking on nostalgia, and succeeding greatly at that. It doesn't really bring much that's new to the table but it's a recommended buy for anyone who wants a simple racer or is a fan of Hot Pursuit at the price it's going for."
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