Last week I reviewed Sony’s racing masterpiece Gran Turismo and considered it to be the finest racing game ever made. This week, I took a glimpse at GT’s closest PlayStation competition, Electronic Art’s Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit. At first, I thought that it would be a disappointing sequel just like Need for Speed 2 was, and fortunately for me, I was dead wrong. This might not be as deep a racing experience that Gran Turismo was, but it sure is a lot of fun to play.
Once again, Need for Speed 3 provides a wide assortment of supercars that can only be seen in issues of Road & Track. We now have a Ferrari 355, Lamborghini Countach, Chevrolet Corvette, Ferrari 550 Maranello, Italdesign Nazca C2, Jaguar XJR-15, Mercedes CLK-GTR, and the Lamborghini Diablo SV. Most of these cars are in the production phase or are prototype models, but NFS3 does a good job in putting them to the test.
Races can be done in single race or tournament format, but there is also a new knockout mode. In this mode, races are only 2 laps, and the object is not to be the last car to finish. Coming in last eliminates you from competition, similar to a racing version of the Survivor Series.
But by far the best mode of the game is found in the games title. The Hot Pursuit mode involves a race with not only another racer, but an entire police force! And if you think this is the pushover cops that were found on the first NFS, you’re dead wrong! These guys play for keeps; they bump you, they ram you, they lay out tire spikes to knock you out of control. And when you think you got away, here comes a copper in a heavily modified Corvette or off-road vehicle. This is definitely a strong challenge that was sorely missed in NFS2, and it is definitely good for the stress obtained after trying to get a Gran Turismo international license.
Graphics in this game are done fairly well. They are not as sharp as Gran Turismo’s, but one’s opinion will definitely change when doing a night Hot Pursuit. The PlayStation’s light-sourcing capabilities are heavily maxed out with the use of the headlights (both in low and high beam modes), and the ominous police lights that vary in intensity from lightly there to frighteningly annoying. It’s got me to the point that if I see police lights flashing for real, I should drive away like a madman!
I am very impressed with what EA Canada did with NFS3. To me, this is what the previous game should be like. There are plans also for a PC release, but this time I hope they decide to add 3Dfx support in the original package, instead of coming out with another SE version!