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June 2024

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Racing
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Criterion
Release Date: Nov. 6, 2020


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PC Review - 'Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered'

by Cody Medellin on Nov. 6, 2020 @ 12:00 a.m. PST

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered features the graphical enhancements of the world of Seacrest County, where the winding roads and exotic supercars offer an adrenaline-filled sense of speed.

Buy Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered

For the Need for Speed series, the Hot Pursuit subtitle has some significance. The original entry on the PC and PlayStation was one of the early examples of the series trying to give the game a purpose beyond racing against opponents. The release on the consoles and PC in 2010 was Criterion's first crack at the series and introduced the Autolog network, which would become a prominent feature in several games of the series. With EA's newfound desire to remaster its games, the decision to go for Criterion's version of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit makes sense, since it is one of the more beloved entries in the franchise. It also helps that this remaster job comes with something new for fans to enjoy.

Hot Pursuit is set in the fictional area of Seacrest County, which is rich with different locales such as dense forests, open deserts, and seaside roadways. It's also home to a vibrant community of racing fanatics who are hell-bent on turning the county into their personal speeding playground. Thus begins the constant war between the racers and the SCPD, who are now outfitted with some of the best cars to handle the threat. As a racer, your job is to finish first in races and outrun the cops every step of the way. As part of the SCPD, your task is to stop the illegal races in any way you can.

For the most part, each faction — the racers and the cops — has access to a few unique race types. Racers have access to four events: Duel, Gauntlet, Race and Time Trials. Duel is a one-on-one race where winning is the only option, and Gauntlet has you trying to evade capture from a gang of cops for as long as possible. Race is a standard organized race where you choose a car from the qualifying class and try to outrun the competition to reach first place. The Time Trials event has you trying to complete a given track in the fastest time possible. The cops, on the other hand, only have two unique events. Rapid Response is a race for cop cars to see who can reach the designated spot as quickly as possible, while Interceptor is much like Duel except you have to bust the suspect car as quickly as possible.

There are two game types that are shared between the groups. Freedrive allows you to choose any track and drive without worrying about penalties. Hot Pursuit differs a bit depending on the side you've chosen, but the scenario remains the same: one cop takes down a whole gang of racers. As the cop, your mission is to bust all four racers before anyone reaches the finish line. Aside from bashing each racer until their car's energy level is depleted, you have four weapons at your disposal. Spike strips blow out any racer's tires, the EMP disables the racer's weapons, the helicopter keeps the target in your sights when you can't see them on the radar, and the roadblock creates a wall of cars that the racer must pass through or incur large amounts of damage. As a racer, your job is to outrun the cops and outrun your competition to be the first across the finish line before being busted. Like the cops, you also have a few tools to help out. Aside from the EMP and spike strip, you have a radar jammer that blinds the cops to your position for a short while. You also have a turbo boost that is much more powerful than the standard nitro but can only be used once per event.

Each faction has 20 different levels, and those levels are governed by the amount of points earned during each event. Points are earned for winning races, while bonus points are given for the fastest time, least amount of crashes, and most racer busts. Points increase rank, and both work in tandem to unlock more cars in each of the five classes and open up more environments and events. While earned points are specific to each faction, you can switch between each side at any time, doubling the length of the campaign since a player can completely finish one side's events and still have to contend with finishing the events for the other side. It also helps that the game's original DLC has now been integrated into the campaign, making the experience slightly lengthier than before.

Fans of the Burnout series will see that Criterion has carried over plenty of traits from that game series into this title. This was the entry that started to amplify the damage to licensed cars. You won't see cars exploding, but expect the deformation to be more significant than torn bumpers and scratches. You can even expect cars to flip over and fall off cliffs.

Speed is another big thing, as the game properly produces the feeling of you going at hundreds of miles an hour down a long stretch of road without the use of nitro. With nitro activated, expect to feel like you're going fast enough to lose control during a race. The feeling of speed is intensified by the fact that you don't have any clunker vehicles. Whether you're a racer or a cop, every car from the Mitsubishi Lancer to the Nissan 350Z feels fast, and even the standard police cruiser feels like it can match horsepower with the best of them.

The biggest Burnout influence is the way nitro is earned. Driving at dangerous speeds, driving on the wrong side of the road, and creating near-misses boosts the nitro gauge and creates a sense of exciting and dangerous driving. While it's much harder to take down the opposition, doing so earns the maximum amount of nitro boost available. All of this is done with very aggressive AI opponents, so there's never a situation where you can breeze to the finish line since your opponents are on your tail until the bitter end.

When compared to the campaign, the multiplayer feels slightly less robust. You have standard races against up to eight other racers in any of the designated tracks, and there's Interceptor mode, which pits one racer against one cop in a duel. By far the most exciting mode is Hot Pursuit, which pits a team of four racers against a team of four cops in races that are both cooperative and competitive. Racers still struggle with getting to first place and try to work together to take down the cops. Meanwhile, the cops work together to bust all of the racers, but cops get extra points for initiating the killing blow against a racer. The mode is more exciting than the offline version because of the human element and the immediate availability of the weapons, so you'll want to play consecutive matches against the same group of people over and over again.

Like the offline single-player mode, all online activity contributes points to your profile, so those who mostly play multiplayer will still receive the same benefits and level increases as those who mostly partake in the single-player experience. The only thing we didn't see was the performance, as no games seemed to be running during our review period. Considering the performance of the original version was quite good, we're hoping for the same here.

Tying together all of this is Autolog, which is undoubtedly one of the series' better innovations. Autolog is the overall shell for the game that keeps players constantly connected to activities and records. You can post game photos of your races or view other people's photos, or you can share direct challenges for your friends on specific tracks.

The more exciting feature is the automatic challenges put forth by the game once you complete milestones. At the start of each race, you're given a standings list that consists of your friends' times on each track. Completing the track gets your name on the list and sends a notification to your activity to every friend who's playing the game. From there, those friends can look at the post and immediately try to challenge it. In case they beat you, you'll get the notification and the opportunity to retry the track to beat the new challenge. It turns the game into an addictive battle of one-upmanship, and it can keep players glued to one track for hours. It doesn't help that the notification messages appear anytime you're in a menu, forcing you to pay attention to every on-screen message.

In case your friends don't play the game, the system seeks out friends until locating people who have played the game. The game checks these six degrees of separation to keep things personal without resorting to complete strangers as your competition, again making the experience more addictive since you'll actually care about the competition.

The biggest news for Autolog and Hot Pursuit is that it's all cross-platform. Steam and Origin players can now mix it up with PS4, Switch and Xbox One players right away instead of having to wait for a patch, and while the number of games that do cross-platform play is still relatively tiny, every bit counts. We ran into an issue on the PC where choosing cross-platform play at the outset crashed the game, so until that bug is fixed, you're better off enabling cross-platform play after knocking out a few solo races.

Graphically, Hot Pursuit looks quite nice. The environments are varied and feature some excellent scenery. Whether you're racing in the desert at night or along the coastline, there's no shortage of interesting views. The pristine look is maintained whether you're driving at 200 miles per hour or at a more casual speed as you snap pictures of the scenery. The cars look great, especially the SCPD versions of the vehicles, but there is a nagging issue of jaggies on some of the finer lines when you see the cars up close. Car damage isn't as extensive and spectacular as you'll see in Burnout, but there are still some wrecks to be had. Torn bumpers, scratches, deformed car parts, partial wrapping around poles, and shattered glass are all accompanied by showers of sparks and flying debris. The level of damage isn't limited to player cars, as pedestrian cars receive the same treatment.

If you owned the original PC release either on disc or via Steam, you'll find that the enhancements to this version are very minimal. After all, the PC version was already capable of hitting 60fps and could easily reach 1080p and higher unless you had very low-spec hardware. If you go for this version instead, you'll notice some work on the textures and anti-aliasing, but that's it. On the flipside, you get more graphical options to tweak, which is always nice but also questionable in terms of whether they actually work. For example, even though we set the vsync to triple buffering, the game always displayed a few bands of split frames in the upper middle of the screen when we got into a big crash.

Audio has been another strong point for the series, and this entry carries on the tradition. The chatter of the cops on the police radio is nice, and the sound effects are also good. The crunching of metal and the roar of the engines never sounded so good, especially if you're pumping the audio through a nice sound system. The music is a typical rock and techno assortment that we've heard since the Need For Speed: Underground days, all present and accounted for from the original release. While it is still a good selection of songs, it takes a back seat to the upbeat instrumental music that plays during the chase sequences. There aren't as many tracks dedicated to this, but it provides excitement and a blockbuster movie feel that doesn't get old.

For most racing fans, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered is a game that's still worth playing. The dual campaign between playing as cops and racers remains intriguing and exciting, since they both play so differently. While the presentation is a touch better than the original, it is the cross-platform play that is the big selling point of the remastered edition. If you're new to this title, it is an excellent racer. If you already own the original game on the PC, the unchanged campaign means that you'd only want this iteration if you're interested in the larger pool of multiplayer companions.

Score: 8.0/10

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