Also available on Wii, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Android, iOS, and Windows
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 01/21/2021 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
I used to be a pretty big fan of Need for Speed: Underground back in the day, but I never played Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit when it came out in 2010. I always heard good things about it, and I remembered Underground hitting that nice middle ground between arcade racer and more realistic driving sim that I liked, but for whatever reason, I just never bothered with Hot Pursuit. When I saw that it was getting a remaster on Switch, I knew I had to check it out, so I threw it up on my Amazon wishlist. Fortunately, my mother loves me, because what arrived at my door on my birthday but a nice, new copy of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered on Switch.
I’ve always been a fan of driving games, but I’ve never been any good at the realistic ones like Project Cars, Forza, or Gran Turismo. I love kart racers like Mario Kart, and I like arcade-style racers like Daytona USA, but they don’t quite scratch the same itch that a realistic racer does. Need for Speed has always been that happy Goldilocks middle ground. Real cars and more realistic mechanics than Daytona USA but not as brutally realistic as Forza and Gran Turismo. The game is broken into two sections – six dozen or so racer missions and five dozen or so cop missions. In the racer missions, you play as a street racer either trying to beat a time trial, trying to beat your rivals, or trying to beat your rivals while also evading the police. In the cop missions, you either try to bust street racers or beat time trials. Pretty simple stuff, but it’s enough variety to keep the game from getting stale.
Being a weaker system than the PS4 or Xbox One, I wasn’t sure how the game would look on Switch. I knew that it would obviously look better than the PS3 and 360 original, but I’ve come not to trust a lot of developers – especially scum of the Earth developers like EA – to put the effort into a Switch port to make it look as good as it could. It was a pleasant surprise, then, when I discovered that it actually looks quite impressive. The pre-rendered bits before the races still looks pretty rough since I don’t think they got any real remastering, but the gameplay itself looks fantastic. It runs really well, too. There are a few minor frame rate drops here and there, but for the most part, the game runs without issue.
Something I consider to be the hallmark of a good game is customization, and in racing games, that means choosing the color of your car. Fortunately, Hot Pursuit provides a ton of options in that regard; naturally, all of my cars were yellow. Probably my favorite feature, though, is the speedwall. If you have folks on your friends list who also play Hot Pursuit, it will show you their clear times for each mission so you can see how you stack up to them. My buddy, Avery (whose username is redacted to maintain his privacy), is the only friend I have who also plays on Switch, but lemme tell you, he is GOOD. It was always a huge accomplishment when I managed to beat his time on a level. I didn’t usually bother replaying a level more than once or twice to beat his time, but it was really cool to see how I stacked up against him. There’s also an online multiplayer component, but since I’m terrible at racing games on a good day, I decided that I didn’t want to feel even worse about myself than usual, so I didn’t try that out.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit may not have the arcade feel of Daytona USA, the silly fun of Mario Kart, or the hyper-realistic sim elements of Forza, but it’s definitely a racer well worth playing. It sort of sits right in the middle of those, to be frank. It’s more realistic than Daytona, has some weapons like a kart racer but not as goofy, and features real-world cars and realistic tracks like a driving sim. No matter what kind of racing game you’re into, you’ll probably find something in Hot Pursuit that piques your interest. It still shows its roots as a 7th gen game here and there, but the remaster treatment EA gave is top-notch, and when you’re actually playing the game, it looks right at home on 8th gen hardware. It may not be a new game, per se, but if you didn’t play it on PS3 or 360, it’s definitely worth picking up now.