Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit
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|Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit|
|Developer(s)||EA Canada (PS)
EA Seattle (PC)
|Composer(s)||Rom Di Prisco
|Series||Need for Speed|
Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit, released in Japan as Over Drivin' III, is a racing video game released in 1998. It is the third major installment in the Need for Speed series, significantly incorporating police pursuits as a major part of gameplay. Hot Pursuit remains focused in racing using exotic sports cars, but features races that primarily take place in locations within North America, including varied settings and climates. In addition, police AI is significantly improved over its predecessor, utilizing several tactics to stop both the player and opponent. The game was released for PlayStation in March 1998 and later received an enhanced port for Microsoft Windows in October 1998. A PlayStation 2 version was developed, but later cancelled. The game title's suffix, "Hot Pursuit", is a term for a police pursuit. The game had a sequel that was released in 2002 as Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2.
With police pursuits reintegrated into the game, Hot Pursuit's gameplay now consists of two categories. The first encompasses standard racing, as it has been in its predecessors, The Need for Speed and Need for Speed II, in which the player is allowed to race against one (including split-screen races) or seven other racers in normal circuit racers, knockouts, or tournaments (which allow the player to unlock bonus vehicles and a bonus track). The second category is dubbed "Hot Pursuit", where police pursuits are included in races; the mode allows the player to select a standard sports car to race against a single opponent in a police-scattered track. The PC version also contains a role reversal variation in which players select a police version of a sports car to pursue and stop all six racers before they complete their race. Completing both Hot Pursuit challenges in the PC version on every track of the game unlocks additional police sports cars.
Two modes were introduced in the game. The two-player split-screen mode allows two players to race using the same computer. The "Knockout" mode consists of seven races with eight racers on randomly chosen tracks, in which conditions such as selected difficulty, weather, and so on that the player has chosen before starting the race-series will apply. Each race consists of two laps where the driver who finishes last will be eliminated from the race lineup. All other drivers advance to the next round and carry on with the battle until there is only one player left, who technically wins the knockout competition. The game also supports network play through a serial port, modem, or IPX, and online gaming through TCP/IP protocol. It also allowed spawn installations of itself to be installed on other machines.
Racing tracks are greatly varied, with settings ranging from wide desert canyons to homely countryside villages, as well as snow-capped mountain ranges. A particular track in the game is even host to a modern and intricate structure identified as the Electronic Arts development office. Most tracks contain one or more secret shortcuts which can dramatically alter the outcome of a race.
The game also boasted some fairly impressive graphics support for its time, allowing up to 1152 by 864 pixel, 16-bit in-game resolution; widescreen support, car chrome effects, and slider settings for car detail and view distance. Motion-sensing controllers received support as well, granting the players a more thorough gameplay experience by actually allowing them to "drive" the cars.
Car tuning was also introduced, which allowed any car's handling to be customized by adjusting low or high end properties for engine tuning and gear ratios, front or back brake balance, slow or fast braking speed, soft or stiff suspension, low or high aerodynamics as well as rain or racing tires. Any of these options could be modified via sliders to offer a digit-sensitive, percentage-based effect to the selected car's overall performance. Higher-end engine and gear tuning, for example, will compromise acceleration for better tops speeds. Rear-based brake balance and slow braking speeds make for wider, drifting turns, and aerodynamics provide even higher speeds at the loss of handling.
Hot Pursuit's pursuit system has been significantly improved in terms of AI and police tactics over the first Need for Speed. The game now requires that the racer only stop near a pursuing police car to be ticketed or arrested by the police, as opposed to being overtaken by a police car, forcing the racer to pull over for the same punishments. Accordingly, police cars are now programmed with the ability to block a racer's car in an attempt to halt them. In addition, whereas the original Need for Speed would only have a single police car chasing a racer in each pursuit, Hot Pursuit allows more police cars to pursue a racer, opening up the opportunity for them to collectively ambush the racer's car. The police are only playable in the PC version. However, the police cars can be played in the PS1 version, through hacking with a GameShark. The player must select a car in Hot Pursuit mode, which will then be replaced by a police car when the race starts. CLK-GTR, and El Niño cannot be replaced. Even when driving as a police car, the cops can still arrest the player.
Tactical aspects of the police pursuits have also been improved. The police have the ability to deploy roadblocks which has computer-controlled cop cars form a wall across the road, and spike strips which puncture the tires of a racer's car, bringing it to a halt. Both tactics present weaknesses, specifically gaps in the blockade that can be used by a racer to avoid collisions with police cars, or tire punctures from a spike strip which is only deployed on one side of the road. The player may also listen to police radio chatter on the pursuits' statuses, revealing to them the current locations of racers, police cars, as well as roadblocks and spike strips. The radio chatter also reveals reactions to specific events, such as a racer's collision with a parked police car, as well as referencing the racer's passing speed and the occurrence of the race itself ("It looks like the cars are racing!"). Furthermore, if a computer-controlled racer's driving conduct proves to be more dangerous than that of the racer's, the cops may relent their pursuit of the player and chase the AI instead.
Each track setting features unique police cars, including three sedan-based squad cars, a hatchback and two SUVs. The Chevrolet Caprice Classic (for Hometown and Country Woods and sometimes also appears on the Redrock Ridge and Lost Canyons tracks in the PS1 version only) Ford Crown Victoria (for Hometown, Country Woods, and Empire City in PC version and Atlantica and Aquatica and sometimes also on the Rocky Pass and Summit tracks for the PS1 version), Eagle Talon (for Lost Canyons and Redrock Ridge for the PC version and Empire City in the PS1 version), Ford Falcon or Pontiac Grand Am (for Atlantica and Aquatica in the PC version only), Lamborghini LM002 (For Rocky Pass and Summit in the PS1 version only) and Land Rover Discovery (for Rocky Pass and Summit in the PC version and Lost Canyons and Redrock Ridge in the PS1 version). In addition to standard police cars, a handful of Chevrolet Corvette C5 police cars are also included in each track, more equipped to engage in high-speed pursuits and capable of outperforming normal police cars. In the PS1 version, Lamborghini Diablo pursuit vehicles replace the Corvettes if Expert difficulty is selected.
Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit was met with positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PlayStation version 85.63% and 88/100 and the PC version 84.82%. It was heralded during its time for its intense action and beautiful graphics. John Misak, of PC Gameworld wrote in his review: "This latest incarnation uses a radically enhanced graphics engine which reproduces the cars to the tiniest detail." The Official PlayStation Magazine said that the game "just can't compete" with Gran Turismo and the Ridge Racer series, but that it would appeal to people who like car chases. The game reached number 10 in the UK charts.
Notes and references
- "Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit Release Information for PlayStation". GameFAQs. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
- "Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit Release Information for PC". GameFAQs. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
- "Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit (PlayStation) reviews at". GameRankings. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
- "Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit (PC) reviews at". GameRankings. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
- "Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit (PlayStation) reviews at". Metacritic. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
- Need For Speed 3 review, Official UK PlayStation Magazine, Future Publishing, June 1998, issue 33, page 108
- Gallup UK PlayStation sales chart, July 1998, published in Official UK PlayStation Magazine issue 34