Ten years ago EA rebooted Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit to great acclaim and success, thanks to the infectious and irresistible cops vs criminals theme that the franchise would go on to expand upon with Need For Speed: Rivals a few years later. Now a remaster of the reboot of Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit is here – the question is, should you care about double dipping and, if this is your first time out, should you pay attention to this remaster?
Off the bat it should be stated that Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered carries with it the same likes and gripes of the original game; that is to say the cops vs criminals action is highly entertaining and frenetic, but the handling is a bit too stiff at times, and making contact with the scenery or other vehicles can be cause for temporary annoyances as well as becoming a bit too frequent of a necessity. Newcomers will likely gravitate to it however, because the joyous carnage, chasing down and annihilating the competition with an assortment of weaponry is exciting and thrilling, feelings that refuse to let up as long as you play it.
As a remaster, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered does do a serviceable job, with cars sporting a nice glint of sparkle as the sunlight shines down on them, and generally the game looks like a pleasant enhancement of a ten year-old game, though trees and other such environmental fodder look unimpressively static and (ahem) wooden. The same can be said of the game’s sound design; it’s all decent enough stuff but you won’t be blown away by anything the game offers. It’s nice to know some of the original game’s soundtrack has been restored after reports that a handful of songs would be cut from the game due to licensing problems.
Hot Pursuit‘s headlining mode is its Career, where events are laid out on a map and more are unlocked as you complete them. They start out easy and grow progressively tougher as you acclimate to the races and tools at your disposal. You get graded at the end of each event either achieving a pass, merit or distinction, and suddenly your thrilling racing game has turned into a B-tec grading system. Jokes aside though the levelling system and progression grants you more tools in your arsenal and faster, fiercer, and stronger rides to drive in meaning that Hot Pursuit keeps rewarding you every time your level increases – which may be standard practice in games of its ilk, but you truly feel your efforts are repaid generously and handsomely.
The meat and potatoes of Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit is about playing as cop or a racer and trying to either hunt down and arrest the racers or evade and flea from pursuing cops. As a racer you can aptly participate in high-speed races with fellow racers to the finish, participate in timed events known as Previews, and you will need to get used to the practice of getting the best of the hard-charging cops that’ll hunt you down relentlessly.
On the flip-side playing as a cop is all about ruthlessly tracking down and taking out the racers, and you’re given an assortment of bespoke tools to get the job done, such as roadblocks to impede racers’ paths, spike traps to burst wheels, an EMP to temporarily disable and damage the car’s systems, and a useful helicopter that will deploy spike strips from above. Be cautious though, as what you do to your opposition they can do to you by triggering spike strips suddenly that you’ll need to evade, or trying to shake off the EMP reticule to save you from taking shock damage.
In Interceptor events it’s one cop attempting to takedown one racer and the AI can use sneaky tactics in desperate attempts to shake you off like U-turning unexpectedly, forcing you to turn your car around and give chase. Hectic chases are at a premium and racing with these gadgets is the true highlight of Hot Pursuit and elevates itself beyond standard racing game fare and into something quite remarkable and joyous.
Hot Pursuit does incorporate a few too many time-trial based events such as Preview and Rapid Response, where you need to race hard to the finish line to accrue the fastest time possible whilst doing all you can to avoid traffic and time penalties for collisions and crashing into environmental objects. It is not enjoyable to weave through traffic and worrying about getting a Distinction award just to smash into an oncoming car just before you reach the finish line. However, when Hot Pursuit does what it does best – having you pursue and takedown other racers – the traffic will be the least of your concerns because you will be experience exhilaration instead of frustration.
The suite of cars are impressive and diverse, making them a total treat to unlock and they range from fast to formidable, including speed demons like the Bugatti Veyron and the Lamborghini Gallado, to muscle powered juggernauts like the Ford Mustang. The police version of high-speed vehicles are uncannily fast and awesome to drive and look at too, so there’s no slow and dull dispatch rides in the car list. The only downside is that customisation is super-basic, only allowing you to choose a colour for your car, so there’s no way to create swanky looking police vehicles or badass racer rides.
Outside of the career you can engage in online multiplayer and throughout the game will keep tabs of your event completion times thanks to Autolog, so there’s a copious supply of competition between you and the people on your friends list. The original game’s DLC – Arms Race and Most Wanted – are included here; the former giving you all the game’s weaponised gadgets for you to battle in a free-for-all as you take out other players, and the latter sees a bunch of cops trying to hunt down and pursue a most wanted racer. Multiplayer is chaotic and dynamite frolics as you can expect given the brilliance of Hot Pursuit‘s simple cops vs crims appeal.
As far as the racing game genre goes Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered is one of the coolest and freshest around. Of course, the brilliance of Hot Pursuit stems from its original release in 2010 and the remaster doesn’t bestow a bountiful bouquet of bonuses, but replaying it ten years down the line hasn’t changed the recipe one iota – and that can only be a great thing, although the changes are minimal beyond aesthetics. If you haven’t played Hot Pursuit and want an exhilarating racer this is a must own and while you’re at it bump up the score below by 1.0, but as a remaster it only does enough to make it competent and does little to stand out from the litany of remasters out there.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.