Retro Review – Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit

Welcome to a new monthly feature where we review a retro game. 

The rules about which games can be included in Retro Review are as long as it released in either North America or Europe and on a retro console it can be featured. To be considered a Retro console it most be at least 2 generations old. So that’s any game from the PlayStation 2, Wii or Original Xbox era. The game must also be the original release so Resident Evil 4 could only be reviewed based on the GameCube version. 

This month we revisit Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit that hit the PlayStation 1 in March 1998.


Need for Speed 3 is surprisingly fun to play even 20 years later. The standout mode is Hot Pursuit. this marks the first time police were featured in a Need for Speed game. There is no open world here, you pick a supercar and track and go head to head against a AI player or 2 player split screen. The police chases are better than you might think for a old game. If you get caught you might be lucky and just get a fine for the first or second time. But if you’ve already racked up 2 fines or have made it until they deploy the silver police Corvette and you get caught you will be arrested and your race is done. There are also Knockout, Race and Time Trial but the other mode you will spend a lot of your time is Tournament. A tournament is a series of 8 races back to back with 4 laps each on very long circuits. Seriously, each race takes upwards of 10 minutes, and don’t forget this is looooong before the rewind feature we have in modern racing games. You mess up the last lap and come in eighth, tough. 


By today’s standards it look shit. But for 1998 it looked very good. There is day and night racing woth the option for wet weather too. The cars headlights at night light up about 100 feet in front of you, if you use the high beams that is. No matter whether you race in snowy fields, A futuristic city or though cavesNeed for Speed 3 looks good. The car models leave little to be desired except for the manufacturers badge. The Ferrari badge is crystal clear on the 450, that’s probably not a accident. 


Yiu get two three music options here. Rock, Techno or a mix of both. Do yourself a favour and set it on Techno and leave it. The Techno music perfectly matches the excitement of racing in a tournament or running from the law. The announcer at the end of each lap is a nice touch “That’s the fastest lap, Lap 2” when you cross the line. Again the car engine sounds, like the cars themselves let the game down a little. 

Replay Value

There isn’t a lot on offer here to keep you coming back for more. Once you unlock the tracks and cars, and there is only 9 of each (not including hidden ones unlocked with cheat codes) the only reason to come back is Pursuit Mode or 2 player split screen. 


Even taking the lack of tracks and cars into account, the tracks that are here are very long with plenty of shortcuts to discover. The game is at its core a fun arcade racer and can be enjoyed today. If you aren’t old enough to have played this back in the day (oh that makes me feel old) or haven’t touched it since the 90’s, go back and give it a go. 


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