As the current generation starts to slow down and the new batch of consoles promise to essentially upgrade swathes of your old games, it’s likely that we’ll see fewer and fewer remasters, deluxe or definitive editions in the coming years. That could well mean that Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered is part of a dying breed. If that is the case, you’d have hoped that EA would make sure that this re-buffing, spit and polishing sub-genre went out on a high. Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered is certainly welcome, but it’s not the best example of a returning classic we’ve ever seen.
Need for Speed Hot Pursuit was a truly great Need for Speed game. Released in 2010, its iconic position in the franchise is due in part to the fact that it was developed by Criterion Games, the team behind the Burnout series. While it carries the Need of Speed name, Hot Pursuit melded the two franchises together, creating a fast and brash arcade racer that stood head and shoulders above the other racers of the time.
Set amongst the undulating hills of Seacrest County, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered’s primary goal has been to buff the ten-year-old game back up to a top-end 4K shine. On PS4 Pro and Xbox One X you’ve got the option of Quality or Performance visuals, with Performance aiming for a 60fps refresh rate that it manages to hit most of the time, at least on Xbox One X.
Being honest, a Quality-style setting feels unnecessary for any racing game, and that’s true here, with the few extra visual bells and whistles little reward when you’re sacrificing the smoother frame rate. Sadly, the regular PS4 and Xbox One have to suffer along with 30fps, which is exactly the same as the original game. When we’re on the cusp of another generation, 30fps racing games feel like a remnant of the past.
Hot Pursuit Remastered provides a clean and attractive image. The cars are suitably shiny, though they’re never going to match up with a modern racer like Forza Horizon 4 or GT Sport for fidelity. Still, considering this is a ten-year-old game they look very good indeed. Seacrest County does show its age though, with simplistic textures and basic assets. Fortunately you’re whizzing along at such a lick most of the time that you’ll barely notice.
If we’re being mildly unkind, Hot Pursuit Remastered’s appearance this year is probably just to keep the franchise’s name in the public consciousness. If we’re being doubly unkind to the franchise, it’s probably better than the last three mainline games. Despite the advancements that we’ve seen from the franchise in the last few years – and the soft spot I have for Payback – Hot Pursuit’s focussed and fun series of events is the perfect antidote to open-world maps littered with more things to do than any human really needs.
The remaster includes every car from the original, plus all of the extra ones that were added via DLC, but it still feels like there’s a restrictive list of cars to choose from. All 77 are performance-style vehicles, but when every second car is a Lambourghini or Porsche, it loses a lot of the impact. The game throws new cars at you like candy, but you soon discover that it’s not as sweet as it seems.
Like a long-lost friend, Autolog is back. The once revolutionary social system pits you and your friends in a constant battle for car-based supremacy. As you hit the main menu you’ll see your friend’s achievements and progress, and if you head on over to Autolog Recommends it’ll provide you with a curated list of events where a friend has posted a better time. You can then attempt, over and over again, to set things right and put them back in their place.
It’s still a fantastic way to engender competition, but it feels as though you’re going to need to commit as a collective if you’re going to get the most of it. The TV advert makes a big deal of restarting conflicts that you were embroiled in ten years ago, but with a chunk of my friends about to stump up all of their cash for new consoles and next-gen games, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered would have been the perfect game to arrive six months ago. Not only that, but while the advert seems to imply otherwise, there’s no sign of your times from last generation so you are starting from scratch. It’s a shame, but it feels like a game that’s truly out of time.
One thing that might help with that is the addition of cross-play. No matter what platform you’re playing on, you can grab some friends from either the green, red, black or blue camp to tear up the road in Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered. It’s truly universal.
Of course, if you don’t want to play with anyone else, whether it’s filthy Sony fanboys, PC master racers or those N00bs on Xbox, you can turn the whole internet connectivity thing off. When the social aspects are so important, and probably limited by player numbers, I don’t think you can afford to be picky.