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6 November 2020

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered review: Plenty of gas in the tank for updated racing game

By Tung NguyenTung Nguyen
With updated visuals, cross-platform multiplayer and extra content, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered is the definitive version of the classic game.

Much like many hardcore sports cars, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered hones in on the driving experience at the cost of many features to deliver an edge-of-your seat racing experience.

Think of it then like the Porsche 911 GT3, which strips out the backseats, air-conditioning and even door handles for an uncompromisingly involved feel.

So to does Hot Pursuit Remastered omit the open world, endless collectibles and car modification options that have proliferated the racing genre since it first launched in 2010 for a fast and furious arcade racer.

If you’ve never played Hot Pursuit before, don’t go in expecting Forza Horizon, The Crew or even last year’s Need for Speed Heat’s almost bloated experience though.

In Hot Pursuit, you simply select a race from a menu and get thrown straight in, there isn’t any preamble about building your online followers or getting revenge at someone who crossed you, it’s all about speed.

Each side will get either a coupe/convertible variant of the same car. Each side will get either a coupe/convertible variant of the same car.

And it’s actually refreshing in 2020 to be able to load races from a menu instead of opening a map, setting a way point, driving across town, picking up every collectible/jump/stunt you come across, then actually getting to the racing.

In terms of how the game plays, not much has changed in 10 years, but the overly arcade-like handling and over-the-top drifting remains at the core of this Need for Speed game.

The sparsely populated traffic and four-lane-wide country B-roads of Seacrest County also serve to maintain your pace throughout the course of the races, with barely anything in the game world designed to slow your momentum.

Distinct in Hot Pursuit is the choice to act as racer or cop though, each with their own unique racing events, specific vehicles and ‘weapons’.

For the racers, they gain access to an EMP, spike strip, jammer and turbo options to out-run and evade the 5-0, however the right-side-of-the-law can call in a helicopter and road blocks, as well as the EMP and spike strip, to try and shutdown the hoons.

The game is undoubtedly the best looking when on the move. The game is undoubtedly the best looking when on the move.

Don’t go in thinking its going to be like Mario Kart though, each weapon is balanced enough and on a cooldown.

The car list carries over largely unchanged from 10 years ago, though with the omission of three vehicles – the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 Edition, Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Stirling Moss and Carbon Motors E7 Concept.

Without fresh additions, the list of available cars is a bit like a buried time capsule of the 2010 performance car scene.

Take for example, the Porsche 918 Spyder, which is listed in the game as a concept, but in real life has since gone into, and then out of, production.

Likewise, most other cars available in the game have since jumped ahead by one, and sometimes two, generations, including the Porsche 911, Audi R8, Subaru WRX STI, Aston Martin DBS, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette and Koenigsegg CCX.

The Koenigsegg CCX is back. The Koenigsegg CCX is back.

Notably, the cars available under the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) banner – including the Dodge Charger and Maserati Gran Turismo – have yet to make a jump to a new-generation after all this time.

The Remaster also bundles all the downloadable content (DLC) that was made available to the base game over time, which includes more races and extra cars such as the Gumpert Apollo S and Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.

There is a little variation between when cars get unlocked first in the racer or cop campaigns, and each side will get either a coupe/convertible variant of the same car, but many vehicles are available to both.

The sparsely populated traffic and four-lane-wide country B-roads of Seacrest County serve to maintain your pace throughout the course of the races. The sparsely populated traffic and four-lane-wide country B-roads of Seacrest County serve to maintain your pace throughout the course of the races.

Being an arcade racer filled with sports cars, the difference between each model might not be as distinct as a sim-racer like Gran Turismo, but the they are noticeable.

The big, brutish Ford Mustang for example, feels suitably heavy to turn and is often prone to sliding its tail out for easy-to-initiate drifts.

The Pagani Zonda on the other hand, is light, lithe and agile, and able to cut through traffic like a hot knife through butter but is easily knocked about by the pursuing cops.

The Pagani Zonda is light, lithe and agile. The Pagani Zonda is light, lithe and agile.

New to the remaster is the ability to apply custom colours to racer’s cars, which is a small, but appreciated touch. Police vehicles don’t get this option however, sticking to just the single look.

However, like before, the ‘policified’ vehicles look as great, with unique liveries and flashing lights attached to models like the Dodge Viper ACR and Lamborghini Murcielago that are simply unobtainable to law enforcement in the real world.

The racers have the ability to apply custom colours to their cars, while the Police vehicles get unique liveries. The racers have the ability to apply custom colours to their cars, while the Police vehicles get unique liveries.

Speaking of looks, this is a remaster and not a remake, meaning the graphics get slightly updated and is much more of a touch-up job rather than a full respray.

Officially, the game will support up to 4K resolution at 60 frames per second, though that will likely only be possible on high-end PCs or next-gen consoles.

Playing on our PS4 Pro outputting to a 4K TV saw a nearly unplayable amount of input lag from the controller, but dive into the graphics setting and change them from ‘quality’ to ‘performance’ and the game runs buttery smooth.

The car models are especially a standout for their meticulous detail, the same can’t be said for Hot Pursuit’s world at large.

A standout point is the sound design, with each roaring V8 engine, screeching tyre and bone-crunching crash ringing loudly through the speakers. A standout point is the sound design, with each roaring V8 engine, screeching tyre and bone-crunching crash ringing loudly through the speakers.

Textures can be a little bland and the environments are lacking in detail, but its barely noticeably when you are racing past it all at more than 300km/h.

The new included photo mode highlights some of these shortcomings even more, but the game is undoubtedly the best looking when on the move, and the sensation of speed given to all vehicles is second-to-none in the racing game genre.

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered is also coming to Xbox One, PC and Switch – though the latter will be available next week and will likely feature a slight downgrade in graphical polish.

The list of available cars is a bit like a buried time capsule of the 2010 performance car scene. The list of available cars is a bit like a buried time capsule of the 2010 performance car scene.

However, consistent to all platforms is the return of Autolog, which records your times and compares them with friends asynchronously for bragging rights.

A more traditional multiplayer suite is also included, which splits up to eight players into equal teams of cops and racers, for those that like to blame lag for losing.

The best part though? Autolog and the online multiplayer component are now all cross play between all platforms!

Another standout point is also the sound design, with each roaring V8 engine, screeching tyre and bone-crunching crash ringing loudly through the speakers.

The Ford Mustang feels suitably heavy to turn and is often prone to sliding its tail out. The Ford Mustang feels suitably heavy to turn and is often prone to sliding its tail out.

The soundtrack also needs a special mention, with certified bangers from Benny Benassi, Deadmau5 and Pendulum all in rotation, but players can just as easily turn off the playlist and throw on Spotify.

Look there’s not getting around there are some parts of Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered are getting a bit dated, it is at its core 10 years old after all.

But, much like our Porsche 911 analogy we made earlier, it’s not really about what it looks like or what features it is missing compared to competition.

Instead, this rehashed racing game retains its position as one of the most fast-paced, visceral and outright fun car games in recent memory – like the 911 GT3 RS is still an engaging driving experience even years after its launch.

Sure, it’s not the deepest racing game out there, and diehard rev-heads might even find some aspects frustrating, but when the pace picks up in Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered, not many rivals can keep up – even if the original game came out a whole decade ago.