Hot Pursuit is my favourite Need for Speed game of all time. Originally releasing in November 2010 on the PlayStation 3, this is one of the very few games from that generation that I still play to this day (not counting this remaster of course). During this past summer, before the announcement of its port to PlayStation 4, I racked up another 10 hours replaying the same handful of races attempting to beat old times.
All that said however, I won’t be scoring Hot Pursuit a high score straight out the gate and instead I’ll be reviewing it based on how well it has transitioned onto a newer console and addressed the issues I had with it last time around.
Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am a very competitive person, though unfortunately maligned by the fact I am also a sore loser. If you’ve played Hot Pursuit before then you know where I’m going with this: The leaderboards.
Missing out on beating a rivals time by seconds is one of the most frustrating and rage inducing moments in this game, and I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have missed out on a gold or silver award by less than a second. The first few times it can be funny but after a dozen or so instances it really tests my patience and makes me question why I wanted this game on current gen in the first place?!
I remember that on the PS3 it was possible to cheese some of the one on one races and win an entire showdown inside 15 seconds, and while I’ve not seen it yet I’m sure it will be equally possible here.
Missing out on higher rewards by a tiny portion of time wouldn’t be so bad if the events in Hot Pursuit weren’t incredibly long. Even the early game races, though they have less aggressive AI than later on can sometimes last for five minutes, meaning that if you make the slightest mistake when it comes to climbing the leaderboard you have to start the race again. This isn’t the games fault per se, but the insistence on reminding me I’m a big stupid loser on the main menu really grinds my gears after the 100th time.
What is the games fault is the loading times, particularly for online, as they are totally unbearable. These long stretches of nothing were acceptable a decade ago but certainly aren’t now, and while the graphics have had a noticeable improvement it isn’t to the degree they can justify the wait for loading each event.
When it comes to the meat and potatoes of the game, the racing, there simply is no better experience, especially when playing as the police. The vehicle combat in the PS3 version was perfection on wheels, and you will be pleased to hear that this has translated into the PS4 release. The visceral crunch of ramming a racer off the road or the electronic thunk of firing off an EMP blast to send an opponent spinning out helplessly brings the immersion to a whole new level. It is impossible for me to take out another racer without leaning forward in my chair and grinning like a clown in a strip club.
The open map for Hot Pursuit is packed full of the best driving routes you could wish for, and the road with the two corkscrews is quite possibly the greatest fictional road of all time. The setting of Seacrest County was absolutely gorgeous a decade ago and, surprising nobody, is still postcard perfect now. Beautiful open beaches, twisting roads through snowy mountains, dense forest tracks and long arrow straight highways cater to every dream racing scenario you care to come up with. There’s no feeling quite like beating a friends time on a hot pursuit by clipping a racer at the apex of a corner and sending them spinning helplessly over a barrier and down the side of a mountain.
I thought the multiplayer was brilliant back in the day but it appears I may have had a case of rose tinted glasses for it as human players will spoil your fun given any opportunity. Hot Pursuit is definitely one of those rare games that is just as good played single player as it is with friends, for better and worse, though teaming up against unsuspecting opponents with one of your friends to pincer move them never stops being funny.
My recommendation for now is to avoid cross-play as I’ve definitely experienced some hackers in my time online. No prizes for guessing which platform they’re playing on!
I remember back when playing it on PS3 that I was in a constant competition with a few friends to beat each other on the leaderboards. An addictive trend to say the least, and one I’m happy to report is beginning to make a comeback with the remaster. At time of writing my times sit alone on my friends leaderboards but I’m confident some of them will prove quite difficult to beat. Challenge me if you dare!
My biggest gripe with Hot Pursuit Remastered (which was also present in the original release) comes in the form of the penalties to the police drivers during time trials for trivial things like brushing your car against a wall, drift tapping off a barrier or a head-on collision with an AI civilian car too stupid to get out the way. When your game tickles the part of a players brain that tells them to keep replaying a level in order to prove they are better than their friends, punishing them with time penalties is just being a dick for the sake of being a dick.
I also absolutely hate the afore mentioned AI drivers who dawdle around on the roads and never get out of the bloody way when I’m bearing down on them at 200mph in a $1.2 million Lamborghini. When I express this frustration to other players they try to rationalise with me that a normal person wouldn’t have time to react in these circumstances in reality. To this I will always argue that the cars in this game are hardly quiet, and with loud sirens and blue flashing lights you only have yourself to blame if you wind up splattered across 50 feet of tarmac because you don’t bother to check your rear view mirror. Typical German saloon drivers!!
In summation, the best Need for Speed game (don’t @ me) is still the best Need for Speed game. A high stakes, high action adrenaline fuelled thrill ride through driving joy manifest, and a necessity for anyone who likes racing games. It definitely has its issues, but so does every Need for Speed game, and at this point they seem to just be a part of the NFS experience.
Forget the weak entries to the franchise that has plagued us throughout this generation, the prodigal son has returned and means business. Please Criterion. Can we have a Hot Pursuit 2 that fixes these issues now??
I score Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered