While fans of first-person shooters, survival horror games, and even sci-fi racing games have all gotten to play new versions of old favorites lately, the same hasn’t been true for people who want to virtually race real-world cars on realistic streets or race tracks. Which seems like a real oversight, if Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered is any indication. Remade for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC, this new version of the 2010 classic is as much fun as the original, even if it does lack some of the depth of modern racing games.
Like the original, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered has you driving real cars on roads that have not been closed off or cleared of traffic. Which is why, as you run these illegal street races, you have to watch out for people driving to work or the store, lest you find yourself in a rather horrific crash you’d never walk away from if this wasn’t a racing game.
Except that unlike other racing games — including others where you’ve also engaged in illegal street races — the fictional but picturesque Seacrest County where Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered takes place has a vigilant and well-funded police force that will do what they can to stop you. Including, apparently, buying some really expensive sports cars and then ramming them into you. Hence why, during some races, you have to try to outrun the cops, or cause them to get into the same kind of horrific, “How could anyone survive that?!?” crashes you got into with that nice old lady who was just driving to church.
Not all of Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered is spent breaking the law, though. Sometimes you also get to violate police procedure. Along with the illegal street races, this has events where you get to be the police, and have to take out the street racers by any means necessary. Which not only includes slamming into them and causing them to crash, but also using spike strips, setting up roadblocks, calling in helicopters, and even using an EMP.
Now, we can spend hours debating whether or not Electronic Arts should or should not have released a new version of an old game in which you play as a cop who would be killing people, and racers who would be killing cops, if this game was the least bit realistic. It’s what been happening with Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, which has a black Puerto Rican superhero protecting New York City. And no reasonable person would fault you if that’s why you don’t want to play this, especially since the cops vs. racers thing is so integral to this game that you can’t avoid it.
But if that aspect of Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered isn’t an issue for you, what you’ll find is a very fun racing game…assuming, of course, you’re looking for more of an arcade experience. This is not a simulation, and just as people unrealistically survive the car crashes, so too do the cars not handle like the real automobiles. Which isn’t to say this is Mario Kart if Bowser was a cop, just that your car handles and grips the road more like it does in DIRT 5 or Project CARS 3 if you have all of the assists turned on.
It also sometimes makes Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered feel different from other recent racing games. Doubly so since you never know when the cops might show up (well, unless you play an event twice; it’s not completely random). Trying to drive faster than everyone else while not getting run off the road not only add some challenge but changes how you drive, as does having to try and knock someone off the road before they reach the finish line.
Though even the regular, non-cop pursuit races are still fun. In large part because they, like the other events in Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered, take place on some rather twisty courses. There’s even the occasional short cut, which can shave precious seconds off your time. Though so can using the rechargeable nitro that comes standard in every car (and yes, that includes cop cars).
In addition, this has a nice mix of expensive sports cars and affordable rides — available to both the police and the criminals — with all of them giving you a good sense of speed, regardless of which of the three viewpoints you chose.
As for what Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered adds to the original, well, the most obvious but least important aspect are the graphics, which have been upgraded to what were modern standards before the Xbox Series X / S and PlayStation 5 came out a few weeks ago.
Along with the improved visuals, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered also, for people who prefer to play online, now lets you race so against everyone who buys this game, regardless of which console they’re on. They’ve even made it an option, which…y’know, I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to do this, but I’m sure someone has a reason. The only downside being that you don’t have a choice who can crossplay with; if you’re on Xbox, for instance, you can’t specify that you don’t want to race against people on Switch or PC players, or even something as specific as PC people with steering wheel controllers. It’s all or nothing.
Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered also includes most of the cars they added via DLC back in the day. What’s missing are the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Stirling Moss and Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 Edition (probably because Mercedes sold its stake in McLaren a year before the original game came out), the Carbon Motors E7 Concept (probably because Carbon went out of business in 2013), and all of the Toyotas (probably because Toyota hate me and don’t want me to drive my own car, a 2002 Toyota Camry). Though with 77 cars included, you probably won’t miss them.
For those who do, though, this isn’t the only place where Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered kind of, sort of comes up short. Unlike the recent remakes of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3, this isn’t a complete modernization. Hence why this doesn’t have braking, steering, and handling assists you can turn on or off, and thus can’t be made to feel more like a simulation.
Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered also doesn’t have nearly as many viewpoint options as it would if this was a new game. While DIRT 5 has six viewpoints, and Project CARS 3 has 7, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered has only 3: behind the car, a dashcam-like view, and the ever-present one that makes you feel like you’ve been strapped to the hood. Though it is annoying that the third-person view is the kind that’s close to the car, since being able to see more to the sides and behind you would be especially helpful in a game where you’re trying to slam into people.
They also didn’t upgrade the soundtrack, which is too bad, since it has not aged well. Good thing you can turn it off.
Despite these shortcomings, though, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered is still a rock-solid racing game, one that doesn’t feel nearly as dated as some remasters that aren’t remakes we could mention (we’re looking at you, 2015’s version of the original Resident Evil). While including police chases and chances to be the police may be problematic for some, for others it adds something different to a kind of racing we haven’t gotten to do this well in, oh, feels like 10 years.