With the Need for Speed racing game series taking a year-long hiatus between last year’s “Need for Speed: Heat” and the next-generation game being led by development house Criterion (of Burnout fame), EA has seen fit to relaunch an updated version of Criterion’s first Need for Speed game: “Need for Speed Hot Pursuit.” Its full name is “Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered,” and the game boasts the full complement of downloadable content (DLC) released for the original, just like the remastered version of Criterion’s “Burnout Paradise.” In addition to the as well as some graphical upgrades and the addition of cross-platform multiplayer. All of this for the price of $40, about $20 less than most new releases. The game is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC. It launches on Nintendo Switch on November 13. We played PlayStation and Xbox versions of the game for this review.
Multimedia Producer Erik Meier: “Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered” was a game I was particularly excited to try out because I had never played the original. Somehow, despite the absolute onslaught of remastered games being released in the past few years, I’ve managed to never play a remastered version of a game that I hadn’t at least dabbled in when I was younger. Because of that, I’ve often had my nostalgia goggles on for these types of packages. For this game, though, those wouldn’t exist, and I was interested to see if the now 10-year-old racer would still hold up. Luckily, for my money, it does!
First and most importantly, the feel of the driving is right in the sweet spot for me. It’s outrageously fast, and the drifting is very tight and easy to control. To me, the drifting in this originally 10-year-old Need for Speed offering far outpaces the attempt at the mechanic in “Need for Speed: Heat.” Although, I’ll be fair here, they are both very different games, so maybe they shouldn’t be compared. It’s tough not to, though.
The graphics, for what they are, are fine. I can’t compare them to the original because I never played it, but the remastered version doesn’t look out of place against other racing games of this generation to me. On an Xbox One S, it looks right at home against other racers on the machine. Your mileage may vary with higher-powered or next-gen (now current-gen, I suppose) consoles.
I don’t have too many quibbles with the game in general, but my biggest by far has to be with the car color customization screen. Someone had the bright idea during the original development of this game to show mostly extreme close-up shots of the car while picking a new color, then fading the image to black, for what seems like a really long time before going to a new, random, way-too-close angle of the car, and that cycle just repeats seemingly forever. I’m not sure how every QA tester didn’t instantly lose their mind over how annoying this is during development, but alas, it made its way into the original game and now, the remaster. Is it the biggest deal in the world? No, it’s not, but it’s still annoying.
Other than that, though, I had a lot of fun with this game as a first-time player. I’m glad to have a new, super-fast-feeling racing game to throw into the rotation. The best part about it is that this remastered version also includes all of the original DLC content from 10 years ago and it’s still only $40. I’m planning on spending a lot more time with this game on our live streams here on Twitch, so if you want to see the game in action, check us out every Tuesday and Thursday from 2pm–4pm.
News Editor Joel Stocksdale: Like Erik, this was the first time I had played “Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered.” I was optimistic, though, since I’ve long been a Criterion fan, having played through “Burnout Paradise” and the company’s “Need for Speed Most Wanted” followup to “Hot Pursuit.” And after spending some time with it, it’s a very solid game, though it didn’t grab me personally.
The actual driving feel is good in “Hot Pursuit.” The sense of speed is excellent, and the environment is well designed for the gameplay. Roads are wide with long, smooth corners that let you maintain your speed and give you enough room for error that you won’t be too frustrated. Every car feels noticeably different, whether you’re going from a light and nimble Mazda RX-8 to a heavy, lumbering Dodge Charger. The control scheme, including the drifting, are traditional and intuitive, as Erik alluded to, so it’s easy to pick up and play. I wish the cars were tighter and more responsive, though, closer to “Burnout Paradise” and “Most Wanted.” Even the light cars feel a little slow to respond, and it makes trying to weave through traffic more difficult than it needs to be.
I was also a little disappointed the game wasn’t running at 60 frames per second (fps) on my original PS4 like the “Burnout Paradise” remaster. While the game was originally released a little later on the PS3/Xbox 360 generation, and some models have been updated, this is still a previous-generation title running on newer hardware. But the 30+ fps I did experience never dipped lower and the game generally seems rock solid out of the gate (unlike a certain other game we reviewed recently).
My other disappointment is that the game feels a little bare and basic in presentation and features. Although the game takes place on a large, interconnected map, there’s no incentive to really explore the city. All events are accessed from a main map menu, and when events end, it takes you straight back to the menu. There aren’t any secrets or collectibles to hunt down, either. The game does feature loads of cars and events to complete, and being able to play as a racer or cop adds some fun twists on races. But cars are simply unlocked as you earn experience, and once you have them, there’s nothing else to do with them. You can choose a color, and that’s it: no wheels, decals, performance upgrades, etc.
Still, “Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered” is a fun enough experience, and for fans of the original, this is easily the best way to play it. I just wish “Most Wanted”, which featured more to do in the open world, incentives for driving different cars, and tighter, faster controls, was the game that got the remaster treatment. Maybe next time there’s a break between Need for Speed titles?