Relive Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, Criterion’s first NFS, remastered with better graphics and improved features all in a definitive package.
Title: Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered
Developer: Criterion Games and Stellar Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (reviewed on) and 5, Xbox One and Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, PC
Release Date: November 6, 2020 | November 13, 2020 (Nintendo Switch)
2005 called, they want THAT Need for Speed title to return as a remaster or remake. Of course, that probably isn’t going to happen any time soon with licensing issues and salvaging the assets from the now shut down EA Black Box. What we got instead was Hot Pursuit. It wasn’t too shabby at least for its initial release, but for today’s times, it feels dated.
This isn’t to completely downplay the game entirely. It’s dated in terms of depth and certain gameplay features that many players of the franchise have become accustomed to, such as customizations and depth to the overall modern NFS formula. What we have here in this remaster is a solid game with refinements and even wider car selections because all of the main DLC has been bundled in it from the get-go.
The car selection is fantastic, and dare I say actually slightly better than what we had when Ghost Games were still around for their four NFS titles. Not only that, but the car selections are segmented in five performance tiers or series as it’s labeled in the game. You have in order: sports, performance, super, exotic, and hyper. This creates a set balance to put other racers in the same field with little to no advantages other than skill and map awareness.
While I really appreciate the car selection in the game as it has a fair balance of many brands, I started to see the aging in this game’s lack of customization. Call me a Need for Speed purist, but I have grown used to really going all out in customizing my vehicles with more than just a new coat of paint. There is no system to install different body kits on some vehicles, add decals, changing the rims, or even making tweaks to performance adjustments. Sure, it does make the player focus more on the racing than the car culture, but I feel that was the biggest appeal of the NFS franchise.
The illicit street racing and the high stakes tied to them are also a defining characteristic of the Need for Speed brand, but what is the point of all that without having personality and a sense of style doing so? This is where my next gripe with the game lies. Don’t get me wrong, this is still an exhilarating game to pick up and play, but there isn’t much personality to Hot Pursuit Remastered. This game feels more like a Burnout game but with cops, licensed cars, and too much tech.
What Criterion has done with their run for NFS games so far was add one too many things that made it like Burnout, especially with the crash camera feature. In short, that feature is somewhat tolerable in the Burnout series, but it really slows down the pace of the races in Need for Speed. It looks cool the first few times, especially if you’re the one to crash another player or AI and drive away in a badass manner.
It’s very intrusive and frustrating especially when you’re at sharp turns or trying to take a shortcut. I’ve run into one too many instances where I wipe a player out behind me and my car is already facing a route to easily go into a shortcut, then the game reorients me so I end up taking the original route. What happens next? Everyone else takes the shortcut and despite my takedown points, that leaves me worse off and most likely in the bottom placements.
To further add to my point about this game not having a personality, there isn’t a story to really set a certain precedent for Hot Pursuit. It’s as on the surface of cops vs. street racers as the setting can be. It’s also set in a place that is faintly reminiscent of coastal state environments like California, Oregon, and Washington. The environments are nice and it does feel like I’m cruising around places like PCH and Point Dume, but there isn’t anything to really set that tone compared to how other non-Criterion NFS titles have.
What I will praise HP Remastered for is the variety of tracks and missions to play, from standard races, cop chases, time trial and preview events, and free roam driving. The story missions can be quite challenging, or maybe I’m just not as good a racer I used to be, but they’re still loads of fun. When you get into the online mode, it all feels much fairer, but you will want to know shortcuts and the handling of your chosen vehicles. On top of that, the Autolog system really encourages players to play with friends or join communities to compete virtually. So even once you’ve completed a majority of the game, there are people to get better times than in the various events.
This game also has variety like the off-road shortcuts presented throughout the races and it encourages players to discover them. It also rewards players who race riskily. Driving on the oncoming lanes of traffic fills up your NOS meter faster as well as having near misses, and drifting at sharp turns. Drive reckless, but not reckless enough to destroy your vehicle.
Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered is still a really fun game to say the least. The high stakes racing and the ability to play as cops adds another layer of fun if being a racer gets stale at some point. It’s much less about the car culture and street racing and more just about the adrenaline-filled races whether it’s fleeing from the cops, trying to overtake other racers, or busting other racers as the cops. There are plenty of challenges and different classes of vehicles to play around with. Not to mention that this title also supports cross-play between the Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC, and the Nintendo Switch (hopefully, and I assume also with the PS5 and Xbox Series S|X).
Need for Speed Hot Pursuit RemasteredCriterion Games and Stellar Entertainment
A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.