With the arrival of the new wave of consoles, we did not have time to check out Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered when it was launched, but the Criterion masterpiece especially deserves our focus now that support has been added to nex -gen consoles, the door opens to a 4K experience running at 60 frames per second. More than that, in the wake of the news that Criterion is new The Need for Speed title is delayed, there is also an opportunity to reflect on an astonishing series of iconic racing games from the Guildford-based developer.
That was something I recently discussed with John Linneman: what exactly is Criterion? Some might say it̵
Perhaps it’s quite simple to say that from the arrival of Burnout 2 all the way to Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, Criterion was the undisputed champion of the racing genre, with each game a must-buy – and in return for what was last really great Criterion racing offer, it’s very much as usual. Yes, Hot Pursuit has not evolved radically visually from PC rendering, and despite running at higher resolutions and (at least selected formats) higher frame rates than the original console versions, it is very much a game of its time. But the point is that the game still runs beautifully, the handling is sublime and the concept is to-the-point, instant and brilliant. Perhaps best of all is the vista-like presentation: the promise of an open road that stretches far into the distance. And yes, the resolution increase definitely helps there.
It is interesting to see how Stellar Entertainment has handled the remaster and the translation of the various platforms. Hot Pursuit was originally a 30 fps game, and so are most of the ports. PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch are all targeted 1080p30 (with 720p30 delivered on the mobile version). Only PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X had the ability to improve frame rates, with the choice offered between 4K30 and 1080p60 games. The latest upgrade is not really an update specifically aimed at the new machines: a new Maximum Quality mode simply removes the frame rate from the existing Pro and One X versions, so that the inherent support for backward compatibility in the brand new machines can kick in. in, propelling us to 60 frames per second. So yes, the modes aimed at PS5 and Series X are also available on latest-generated enhanced machines. It’s not so much “back compat plus” as such, more a simple mechanism to allow the existing game to get a measurable performance boost without the potential requirement to migrate over to a later, cross-reactivated SDK.
What does this mean is bad news for the Xbox Series S? Anchored down by the Xbox One S code path, there are no additional modes added, so 1080p30 is the best you should get. Despite the fact that we deliver a relatively large increase in GPU power, and can easily deliver 1080p at 60 fps, there is no upgrade for Series S users – and that’s a shame. And it’s actually quite interesting to see that the new maximum mode sees the PS4 Pro at 4K unlocked, usually running in the mid-40s, while the Xbox One X by default is within touch distance of 4K60 in many scenarios – but what stands out from the performance analysis that driving unlocked, Pro and One X is perhaps much closer in production than the specification difference between the two systems suggests.
In theory, at least, moving the same code to the PS5 and Xbox Series X, should give a preconceived conclusion then: with a 2x increase in GPU performance minimum, both should lock to 4K at 60 frames per second with a lot of horsepower to overs. And that’s definitely the case with the PlayStation 5, which only hits full frame rates across our tests. However, we encountered a specific problem area on the map on the Xbox version, which can see the performance of the 40s – and in fact the low 30s on the Xbox One X. It seems to be this specific area on the map, close to the coast, but Because the Hot Pursuit tracks are built around a single world, you will find yourself visiting the same location quite often and thus encountering the same performance drop. It’s flawless on the PlayStation 5, but obviously an issue on the Xbox side … and it seems to be a GPU issue, since 1080p60 mode is still available and works well there. To be clear though, it’s very clearly a software problem – after all, Hot Pursuit Remastered seems to be based mainly on the PC original, which was exceptionally well put together on the day.
So finally, a game that should have a lot of overhead on the new machines (based on their unlocked behavior on the latest generation of improved consoles) should deliver a flawless experience on their shiny new equivalents. That’s the case with the PlayStation 5, but the drop is significant enough on the Xbox Series X that we hope to see EA visit Hot Pursuit Remastered to remove the issue there – and quite why there are any issues at all is a bit confusing. Meanwhile, the lack of Series S upgrades is also disappointing – there is no technical reason why Microsoft’s junior next-generation console should not deliver 60 frames per second. Enhancements such as cross games are welcome, but in the end the 30fps cap was the only real technological limitation that held back the original game and with full frame rate, one of the best racing games ever made feels sublime. Several years after its first release, Hot Pursuit is still an absolute gem.