In the course of its 25-year history, the Need-for-Speed series has already gone through a lot: Originally started in the 90s as a fast-paced cat-and-mouse game between racers and police officers, it only developed over the years to underground tuning paradise, then to serious racing simulation and finally even to global racingMMO. This year the series is trying something completely new again by trying something completely old again. With Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered, the first true-to-original reissue of an NfS classic is released.
This decision caused frowns when it was announced a month ago: Why did publisher EA choose Hot Pursuit and not another part? To that ten year anniversary of the original to celebrate? Or in honor of developer Criterion Games who launched the NfS series earlier this year took over again from Ghost Games? One can only speculate about the reasons. The fact is: The remaster was released on November 6th for PC, PS4 and Xbox One and aims to offer fans of the original version as well as newcomers a fun racing experience.
Note: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered (buy now € 38.79 /€ 28.49 ) will also be released for the Nintendo Switch on November 13, 2020. We will submit test impressions and evaluations at the appropriate time!
Burnout meets need for speed
The focus of Hot Pursuit was and still is a few innovations, which should now also get their money's worth more: Developer Criterion Games, well-known through the burnout series, has been heavily inspired by his previous works and has taken many elements of the classic carom into his new project. In practice, this means: The new Need for Speed is really a mess! But you shouldn't hope for a sophisticated damage model for a long time. Scratches, cracked windows and fluttering rear aprons are the greatest feelings here too. They come about through takedowns and crashes in slow motion but really spectacular.
This is joined by the arcade gameplay typical of the series: there is no realistic driving behavior, but fast-paced racing fun with an adrenaline guarantee. In Hot Pursuit you don't care about fancy stuff like tire wear, fuel consumption, aerodynamics or weather influences. Whether it's raining or the sun is shining, whether you're racing over asphalt or dirt – it doesn't seem to make any difference. The important thing is to accelerate and drift skillfully around the curve. Your two best friends are the handbrake and the button for nitrous oxide injection. To fill it up, you meander through the oncoming traffic, cause near-accidents or lurk in the slipstream of the enemy. That makes the races even more intense. And when you slide around a hairpin at top speed while pendulum pounds on the radio in the background, then that's definitely really entertaining.
But with the best will in the world, Hot Pursuit won't be demanding. There are no driver aids that can be switched off, no options for traction or stability control, not even manual gearshifts! So even at 300 km / h your body sticks to the road like chewing gum on the sole of your shoe. The driving behavior of the AI speeders is also far from realism. Since there are no different levels of difficulty, a nasty rubber band effect helps keep the races exciting. Even if a competitor crashes into the guardrail out of his own inability, you can greet him again in the rearview mirror as soon as possible. Unsightly.
Oh how beautiful is Seacrest County!
The game world of Hot Pursuit is a little prettier: the fictional state of Seacrest County, based on the US west coast, offers an exciting mix of the beach promenades of California, the forests of Oregon and the mountainous landscapes of Washington. So variety is definitely offered here. Unfortunately, the environment doesn't seem particularly lively: When you explore the map in the optional free travel mode, you have to quickly find out how empty it is. Here and there you will meet a few AI-controlled road users, and you can also try out new challenges such as "drive 15 minutes at top speed" or try out the photo mode. Otherwise there is not much to see: no collectibles, no activities, no day-night rhythm, no dynamic weather.
So the main focus is on the career. It doesn't tell a rousing story, but it does offer over 120 racing events, which also contain the routes from the five DLC packs of the original. On these you fight for medals in races, duels and time challenges – just standard stuff – or you can chase rascals and cops in the eponymous Hot Pursuits. Aids such as nail bands or EMPs are also used here, with which you can keep opponents off your neck. That reminds a little of the crazy ones Power-ups from Blur and in our opinion it looks a bit too focused on action. On the other hand, it is nice to be able to play these events from a police perspective, to switch on the blue lights and to pull street hooligans out of the traffic with your own hands.
Good for those who have friends
This joins nor the multiplayer -Component of Hot Pursuit Remastered: In the classic multiplayer mode you compete against other drivers across platforms, recently also in the two new game variants "All against All" and "Most Wanted". The Autolog also provides you with a kind of social network for need-for-speed players that notifies you of the activities of your buddies. PorscheProll69 beat your best time? Then hit the asphalt and show him who the real king of the road is! In principle, this is a good idea for fueling competition between friends – provided you have some. Because if you are the only one of your friends who owns Hot Pursuit (as happened during our test), then the advantages of the Autolog are limited. It might have made more sense to introduce some kind of platform on which you can compete with all the players in the world.
So the only incentive for racing is winning a bounty, which you can use to unlock new vehicles. However, you are not allowed to tune them. At launch, you are only free to paint your cars in different tones with the help of the color mixer. That's a decent step back compared to last year Need for Speed: Heat, in which you still had full control over look, handling and performance. After all, the size of the fleet is considerable: a total of over 70 bodies are at the start, which you can admire in the garage or have a closer look at using unlockable video clips.
The visual revision of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered is also noticeable – even if only minimally. Yes, the makers have turned a few adjusting screws, built in higher-resolution models, shadows and reflections, more environmental elements, improved textures and a greater range of vision. Racing action on PC and proConsoles at 60 Experiencing FPS and in 4K is also a nice thing. Otherwise, there are only a few notable differences compared to the original.
Which then brings us back to the initial question: Why does EA cut in Remaster out of Hot Pursuit? The answer remains a mystery even after our test. Clearly the new edition is entertaining, but not a playful revelation either. The Autolog feature is nice, but not really mature. The graphics are nice, but can't keep up with today's standards. So the title is no more than a 30 euro stopgap, which is supposed to pass the time until the next Need for Speed - but only has limited success.
This is not the remaster I wanted EA!
Even at the risk of repeating myself: The new edition of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit just doesn't make sense to me. Apart from the fact that I would have preferred a remaster of Underground 2 or Most Wanted, the arcade racer simply doesn't offer enough unique selling points to justify a comeback: Okay, the gameplay with spectacular crashes and takedowns has been around since Burnout ended -Row no more. The Autolog multiplayer feature is also a nice idea if you can get a few friends to buy the game too. But is that why you want to bring out a ten year old game again? No thanks! I think EA could have done without a half-cooked Need for Speed this year, and then rather knock us out of our seats again in 2021 with a really good series offshoot!
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