Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit

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Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit
NFS III Hot Pursuit (PC, US) cover art.jpg
Cover art featuring a Lamborghini Diablo SV being chased by a police car
Developer(s)EA Canada (PS)
EA Seattle (PC)
Publisher(s)Electronic Arts
Producer(s)Hanno Lemke
  • Brad Gour (PS1)
  • David Lucas (PS1)
  • Sam Deasy (PC)
  • Scott Jackson (PS1)
  • Peter King (PS1)
  • Stefan Schwartz (PC)
  • Steve M. Suhy (PC)
Writer(s)Tony Whitney
SeriesNeed for Speed
Platform(s)PlayStation, Microsoft Windows
ReleasePlayStation[1][better source needed]
  • NA: March 25, 1998
  • EU: April 1998
Microsoft Windows
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit is a racing video game released in 1998. It is the third major installment in the Need for Speed series, 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 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 September 1998. A sequel, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, was released in 2002.


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 the race. Completing the Hot Pursuit challenges in both roles 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 standard "Tournament" mode consists of eight opponents in a four-lap race on randomly selected tracks and choices made by the player as in the knockout mode take effect when the tournament is started. The game 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. Two particular tracks in the game (Atlantica and Aquatica) are 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 tracks in the game are: Hometown, Redrock Ridge, Atlantica, Rocky Pass, Country Woods, Lost Canyons, Aquatica and The Summit. There is also an unlockable secret track called Empire City (unlocked after completing knockout mode in beginner difficulty).

The game also boasted some fairly impressive graphics support for its time, allowing up to 1152 by 864 pixels, 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 top speed. Rear-based brake balance and slow braking speeds make for wider, drifting turns, and aerodynamics provide even higher speeds at the loss of handling.

Pursuit system[edit]

Hot Pursuit's pursuit system has been significantly improved in terms of AI and police tactics over The Need for Speed. The game now requires that the racer only stops 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 version of the sports cars is 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. The CLK-GTR, and El Niño (a fictional bonus car) cannot be replaced. Even when driving a police car in the PS1 version, the police can still arrest the player.

The player as a police unit, attempting to arrest the remaining two racers

Tactical aspects of the police pursuits have also been improved. The police have the ability to deploy roadblocks which has computer-controlled police 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 (also chosen by the player) than that of the racer's, the police 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, the Lamborghini Diablo pursuit vehicles replace the Corvette if Expert difficulty is selected.


Aggregate scores
GameRankings(PS1) 85.63%[3]
(PC) 84.82%[4]
Metacritic(PS1) 88/100[5]
Review scores
Next Generation(PS) 4/5 stars[7]
(PC) 4/5 stars[8]
OPM (UK)7/10[9]

Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit was met with positive reviews and reached number 10 in the UK charts.[10] In the United States, Need for Speed III's computer version sold 276,000 copies during 1999 alone, at an average of $25.[11] In February 1999, Need for Speed III's computer version received a "Gold" sales award from the Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland (VUD),[12] indicating sales of at least 100,000 units across Germany, Austria and Switzerland.[13]

Next Generation reviewed the PlayStation version of the game, rating it four stars out of five, and stated that "Need for Speed III is an excellent racer for both novice and expert enthusiasts."[7]

Next Generation reviewed the PC version of the game, rating it four stars out of five, and stated that "With leaves kicking up in your wake and police sirens screaming behind you, racing around these tracks is second only to the real thing."[8]

The game 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."[14] Edge praised the design of the game's tracks and challenging police pursuits, but criticized the weightlessness of some cars for "failing to convince the player of any realistic dynamics at work."[6] Similarly, 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.

Need for Speed III was a finalist for Computer Games Strategy Plus's 1998 "Racing Game of the Year" award, which ultimately went to Motocross Madness. The editors wrote that Need for Speed III offers "great looks, and excellent racing action."[15] PC Gamer US likewise nominated Need for Speed III as the best racing game of 1998, although it lost again to Motocross Madness. They wrote, "For pure arcade rush, it's hard to beat Electronic Arts' thrilling Need for Speed III".[16]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit Release Information for PlayStation". GameFAQs. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  2. ^ "NFS III Update". GameSpot. September 23, 1998. Archived from the original on June 22, 2000. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  3. ^ "Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit (PlayStation) reviews at". GameRankings. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  4. ^ "Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit (PC) reviews at". GameRankings. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  5. ^ "Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit (PlayStation) reviews at". Metacritic. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  6. ^ a b "Need for Speed 3". Edge. No. 58. Future Publishing. May 1998. p. 96.
  7. ^ a b "Finals". Next Generation. No. 43. Imagine Media. July 1998. p. 113.
  8. ^ a b "Finals". Next Generation. No. 48. Imagine Media. December 1998. p. 138.
  9. ^ Need For Speed 3 review, Official UK PlayStation Magazine, Future Publishing, June 1998, issue 33, page 108
  10. ^ Gallup UK PlayStation sales chart, July 1998, published in Official UK PlayStation Magazine issue 34
  11. ^ Rosano, Paul (February 13, 2000). "The Best Don't Always Sell". Hartford Courant. Archived from the original on April 2, 2018.
  12. ^ "Erste Doppel-Platin Auszeichnungen durch den VUD" (Press release) (in German). Paderborn: Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland. February 18, 1999. Archived from the original on March 12, 2000.
  13. ^ "VUD Sales Awards: November 2002" (Press release) (in German). Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland. Archived from the original on January 10, 2003.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2010-03-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ Staff (February 11, 1999). "The Best of 1998". Computer Games Strategy Plus. Archived from the original on February 3, 2005.
  16. ^ Staff (March 1999). "The Fifth Annual PC Gamer Awards". PC Gamer US. 6 (3): 64, 67, 70–73, 76–78, 84, 86, 87.

External links[edit]