Playing Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit again made me pretty sad. In my mind, it stands out as the last truly good game in the Need for Speed franchise. I still remember my friends playing it whenever I went to visit, the Xbox 360 spinning itself to death because the game looked so damn gorgeous.
On another level, it makes me remember how much I adore Criterion Games and how EA has completely squandered the potential of what was once an amazing studio. You can feel Criterion’s history in Hot Pursuit as it tries its best to be a Burnout game but confined within the (slightly more) grounded reality of Need for Speed.
Hot Pursuit, at least the 2010 version of the game, isn’t one that immediately struck me as being in need of a remaster but after having played a good chunk of it this week, it still doesn’t really need a remaster, at least visually. What this particular retooling of Hot Pursuit does do well is update the game for modern sensibilities in terms of online play and multiplayer, and given how many people revere this as a kind of swansong for the Need for Speed franchise, plenty of folks will no doubt adore slipping back into the driver’s seat for one more ride.
If you played Hot Pursuit back in 2010 then you’ll know exactly how this game goes. You can opt to play a variety of standard racing game events, from time trials to plain old races to the finish line, while switching back and forth between the coppers and those dang Duke boys. Thrown into the mix are the more Burnout influenced events, such as Interceptor and Pursuit which actively pit the police force against the street racers which are still the most fun to play to such an extent that every other race feels incredibly boring in comparison.
You can select events through a map screen or just go drive around the world to discover shortcuts and… power slide everywhere I guess. Honestly, I didn’t see much point in the free drive option so I just focused on leveling the respective sides and unlocking some rad vehicles. Hot Pursuit boasts an impressive collection of awesome cars on both sides of the law. It’s a pity you can’t tweak and fine-tune them to your will but that’s always been an issue with Hot Pursuit.
So what is it about this game actually makes it deserving of strolling about the place slapping everyone with its “Remastered” subtitle? Well, the most obvious part is the visual upgrade which allows players to experience the thrill of the chase in glorious a glorious 4K resolution and much more consistent 60fps on console. Everything looks sharper, the environments look a touch more detailed and the cars, as can be expected, are gorgeous.
That’s the wonderful thing about racing games, you only need to do so much before someone looks at the in-game BMW and says, “Wow. That looks just like a real BMW”. The game ran well on my base PS4 with nary a dropped frame in sight. Of course, I wasn’t playing in 4K but I’d be very interested to see what Hot Pursuit looks like on next-gen consoles. It’ll look about as good as a remastered game from 2010 could possibly look…right?
The real major addition to Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered (I just need that name to be, like, two syllables shorter) is Autolog, which might not seem like such a big deal but genuinely adds a great deal to Hot Pursuit. It serves as maybe the most dynamic and social multiplayer system I’ve encountered in-game as it updates you on your friend’s performances and sets challenges and tasks based on their achievements.
It’s a great way to encourage some competition between friends, made all the better with cross-play meaning that if you have enough friends that really like arcade racing games you should always be good for a quick race no matter the platform. Autolog is a real neat addition that makes sense for an industry that’s very obviously become more entrenched in online multiplayer over the course of a decade. Having what could have been a very outdated multiplayer function properly overhauled and adapted is a really nice addition to Hot Pursuit.
Put it this way, Hot Pursuit wasn’t a game that needed a remaster. It’s still relatively easy to track down and play on whatever console takes your fancy. Yet the fact that we have an updated version of one of the last actually good Need for Speed games… well, it’s just a nice little distraction, isn’t it?
While I would have loved a completely new version I’ll accept the 2010 game with a fresh coat of paint. It’s not revolutionary mind you and it certainly doesn’t bring an awful lot that’s new to the table but it does include some smart online features that should make fans very pleased.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered is still a great game a decade later, but it’s even better now with the addition of modern multiplayer sensibilities, improved visuals, and an expansive single-player campaign.
Last Updated: November 5, 2020