Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit
Windows - 1998
Description of Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit Windows
I still remember Pole Position
Racing games on the PC are peaking right now. I remember my disappointment so few years ago as conversion after conversion of graphically astonishing, fast-speed driving games from the amusement arcades were brought over to the popular home computer of that era and just failed to accomplish anything that their arcade machine counterpart did. Anyone remember Outrun for the Amiga? Och, what a mess!
But that time is long gone. Arcade racing games are appearing on consoles and 3D-accelerated PCs and visually, just keep on breaking all the boundaries. The feeling of incredibly high speeds combined with realistic-looking backdrops and roadside objects and all sorts of fancy special effects make you wonder which is more authentic - getting in your car or sitting on your PC with a force-feedback racing wheel. Of course for the majority of us, on your PC, you get to drive cars (and cause accidents) that you would never even get close to in real life.
The Need for Speed series has long been a respected arcade racing game on the PC, which, besides allowing you to drive hot new sports cars, really achieved in doing what its title suggests: gives you the feeling of moving at breakneck speeds in actual real-life settings rather than on a stuffy race track. Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit continues the trend and while providing nothing particularly revolutionary, uses some of the most astounding and advanced graphics we've seen yet, and adds a mode of play that will certainly prove most popular, allowing you to outrun the cops in your supercar or don the boys in blue uniform and drive reckless speeders off the road in a police cruiser.
After the obligatory opening introduction FMV, we're brought to a slick menu screen with all manner of swishy sound effects to accompany it. Much like its prequels, there's a whole range of customizations the player can implement for his upcoming ride on the road.
Once you've decided between single-player, two-player split-screen on the same PC, or a network game, it's time to choose your mode of play: either single race, tournament, knockout or the new "Hot Pursuit." The objectives of the different modes all have certain rewards you can reap if you complete them successfully; for example, if you complete a full tournament, you win a few extra cars, while completing the knockout on expert difficulty gains you extra cars and a bonus track. I'm not an advocate of this rather cheap method of extending longevity and turning a racing game more into the standard style of stereotypical video game that has "win/lose" objectives. It unfairly prevents the more average-skilled player from enjoying all the benefits of their new purchase, but at least there are simple cheat codes available that allow you to instantaneously obtain all cars and tracks.
The game includes 13 different cars when you first install it, each designated a 'class' (A, B or C) which roughly guides how well they compete against each other. For example, if you want an easier race, you'll take a class A car like the Lamborghini Diablo SV, and limit your opponent's cars to the class B range (eg. the Chevrolet Corvette and Italdesign Scighera). As a nice little bonus, EA will also be distributing new "supercars" for the gamer to download every so often from their website - they've already released a new car since the game's release.
9 tracks are provided for your completely negligent racing needs, one of these being a bonus track that you have to win. A note about the other 8 tracks, however: in actuality, there are only four tracks. "Eh, what you smoking?" you might ask - well, basically, each track (apart from the bonus) has a clearly-defined fork in the road anywhere from 0.5 to 1.5 miles in from the starting line. Depending on the track you chose, one of the routes is blockaded with impassable road signs. This means that you are, in fact, only treated to four different scenery/environment choices and that each of the eight courses actually share a fair percentage of the same map (before and after the 'split') with another track. Bit of a nasty trick, if you ask me. On the plus side, the two courses which share a track are always set at different times of the day or year, so for example, "Hometown" which is set in the summer time gets the icy frost treatment in the counterpart track "Country Woods" which is set in the winter. Also, once you take that split, the courses do definitely widely differ in style, locations and difficulty so you don't feel too much like the same stuff is being rehashed.
Customization is the key to keeping this game interesting, and I'm glad to say, there's even more features than in the last incarnations, Need for Speed II: Special Edition. The most notable one is the ability to specify weather and night driving conditions, using a combination of none, either or both! Unfortunately, there's no "random" option, which I thought would have been a fun way of increasing suspense (hey, I'm the type of saddo that always chooses a "random species" in real-time strategies too). You're also given the option of racing each track backwards and mirrored.
Unlike the previous games, you can also fine-tune your studmobiles, including making modifications to the engine tuning, brake balance, steering speed, gear ratios, suspension stiffness, aerodynamics and tires. Each change makes that much bit of a difference to your chosen car's performance, and for the diehard racing fans, you can probably squeeze those few extra seconds off of your fastest lap times with the right tweaks.
And finally, some driving assists have been added for those in need of aid as well as speed. Along with the traditional "auto-brake" often found in proper racing simulations (like Nascar or Formula One), you can also get extra traction, a helpful navigator (color-coded arrows pop-up along with a voice-over announcer yelling "sharp left!") and specially-placed orange cones which denote your 'best line' - not that it's possible to stay within those damn things, I dare you to try.
Mmm-mmm, looking good
Gamers who've played NFS2: SE will definitely know what to expect where graphics are concerned: think the same NFS style, but bigger, bolder, better. Everything about NFS3 is visually enticing and stimulating, from the menu screens and car showcases to the actual in-game cars and tracks. Special effects like the snow or rain splatter against the camera lens and windshield which were used for the first time and somewhat sporadically in NFS2:SE make a full force appearance in this version. With all the graphical details turned on, you are also treated to shadows, sparks, lights (with glare effect), colored lighting, beautiful reflective chrome (if somewhat exaggerated) off your car's body, the whole works. Note, a 3D accelerator is highly recommended here - EA have obviously not spent as much time making the non-accelerated graphics look special as they did with NFS2 (since it was originally released without 3D support), and the result is that NFS3 actually looks worse than its predecessor without a 3D card.
Night driving is especially thrilling with everything being darkened to realistic levels, although I was slightly dissatisfied with the effect of the headlights. You can choose between "projected" and "vertex," but neither is perfect. The flashing blue and red lights of the police cruisers are a particularly pretty effect at night time or in enclosed tunnels, - as in real life, you can see them far off in the distance since the area glow is greatly increased.
A criticism of NFS2:SE was that the in-car dashboard camera view wasn't available if running in 3D accelerated mode; this has been rectified for NFS3 but at a price. Only certain 3D cards allow you to play with the dash - supposedly any 3D card with 8mb or more onboard RAM allows it (so all those with old Voodoo Graphics Righteous 3D and Monster 3D cards are excluded), but other members of the GDR with Voodoo2 8MB cards have been unable to play with the dash either. Reports of success from Usenet have been scattered, but I've seen posts from Banshee and TNT users who have been able to race from the in-car cockpit. Being on a Righteous3D myself, I was unable to enjoy the immersive feeling of actually being inside the car, so I stuck to the exterior behind-the-car viewpoints.
The different track environments are very varied and all look wonderful - these range from small country towns, deserts, mountains roads, urban sprawls and a futuristic style racing dome. Most of the tracks also feature neat little shortcuts which usually let you cut through a long, sharp turn (hence save time by not having to slow down so much), but often at a higher risk; ie. if you botch it up, you'll probably spend more time trying to correct yourself than you would have going around the turn in the first place.
Audio is, as expected, superb. Engine revs and collision noises are suitably authentic, although the horns on most of the cars could do with a bit of "oomph!" behind em - it may just be the real horns on these sports cars are weedy, which seems kind of absurd since everything else about these mean machines screams, "get out of my way!" The most impressive sounds come from the radar detector and police radio transmissions on your illegal scanner - there's a huge range of chatter you listen in on from both cops on the chase or the lady dispatcher. And it's not limited to, "I'm chasing a car!" either, you get detailed descriptions like "I'm in pursuit of a red Aston Martin; he's going more than 120!" without even suffering the inappropriate robotic tone changes like you usually hear in these cases (think of how the Speaking Clock talks, "the time will be... ten... THIRTY-one... and... TEN... seconds). The music tends to be loud, aggressive techno beats, which I personally prefer to turn off, but I suppose it's the right tone for the game.
Without a doubt, the Hot Pursuit mode is NFS3's most appealing feature (EA obviously think so too to have it reside prominently in the game title); as far as I'm aware, this is the only modern PC racer that actually includes both the ability to outrun the cops or switch sides and hunt down the lawbreakers. Playing as either hunter or 'huntee' is exquisitely good fun against the computer, and even more so with some human buddies to team up with or fight against.
In single-player mode, if you choose to be one of the race cars, then you can only be pitted against one other computer AI opponent (in other game modes, you can compete against a starting line-up of 12 AI cars) - the objective is to complete the set amount of laps before he does. A good many number of AI-controlled police cruisers mosey around the track and get ready to pursue if they catch you breaking the law. According to the manual, the police will be checking for any number of deviations like driving on the wrong side of the road or being hazardous by ramming other civilians etc, but I didn't find this to be true. The AI seems locked onto only chasing you if it catches you speeding - this even includes smashing into the cop cars head on! "That's fine, young man, you dent my fender all you want, just as long as I don't see you going 10mph over the limit." The speed limit varies around the track, but the number is always posted on a road sign when it changes.
You have a radar detector available which beeps and blinks red as you get closer to a cop car. You can choose to slam the brakes and hope to drop below the limit before he clocks you or just speed on past and let the chase begin! Immediately you'll hear the sirens go off and your scanner will pick up the policeman reporting the pursuit in to dispatch. If you outrun the first cop you're still far from safe as your car is now branded "wanted" and any other cops you happen across (which will be a good few, believe me) will take up pursuit regardless of the speed you're going. You can have any number of cops chasing you at once - the feeling of being on the run is truly awesome when you check your rearview mirror and see 3 cruisers tailing you with lights flashing.
Eventually, you will be caught. The police cars have been tuned to have more force behind them so that battering offenders off the road is much easier than it would be for one of the standard race cars to do. Also, as pursuits linger on, the police attempt to set up traps to catch you, including roadblocks and spike strips. You'll usually get forewarning of a trap over your scanner, so you'll know where to expect it, but that doesn't mean it'll be easy to dodge. Once caught, you're given a ticket and sent on your merry way - this essentially amounts to 3 lives as on your third ticket, you're officially arrested and taken out of the game. It would have added a higher feeling of authenticity and tension if your punishment was more relevant to the crimes you commit; for example, simple outrunning one police car might only amount to getting a ticket, while causing a car wreck during the course of the chase should result in more severe a penalty. But, hey, you can't have everything.
In an act of role reversal, you can sit in driver's seat of the cruiser and start chasing those speeders by simple choosing one of the police cars from the selection screen instead of the sports cars. Your HUD changes slightly, and a full overhead map of the course is overlaid in the center of your screen showing the location of every 'danger' car on the track. When in range of one, the name of the car appears in the bottom-left, including the current speed he's going and the maximum speed over the limit he has reached (eg. he could be going under the limit currently, but if he was clocked at 50mph over at one point, then that's what it reports and you'll always have the right to pull him over). You then switch on your sirens and the HUD targets the car you're pursuing with a green square 'highlighter'. You can then either choose to straight ram him off the road or get ahead of him and use the spike strip - the latter can be very tricky to do, but if done right, is rather gratifying.
Sadly, when playing as the cops, you don't get any AI police buddies to cruise with and hunt the speeders together, so you're on your own. You can however team up with human players in any combination of police/speeders that you like (up to 8 players in a game). I'm glad to see the "traffic on/off" switch has been included once again which allows you to decide if you want civilian cars on the road - there's something particularly exhilarating about overtaking some folks out for their Sunday drive at 130mph on the wrong side of the road at a dangerous blind curve (that's also on a steep hill... just for good measure). Of course, you could end up careering into oncoming traffic, but that's the beauty of it only being a game. It's a shame that the rather wacky cartoon-like effect of collisions that was in NFS2 has been removed - for example, you could hit a smaller car head-on in that game and the poor thing would go somersaulting backwards for half a mile. In NFS3, both cars come to a very crushing and abrupt halt as you'd expect, but it's somewhat less satisfying, and also isn't particularly realistic since cars in this game fail to show any signs of damage whatsoever (the only exception being when you topple your car over which sometimes results in a fire starting).
And finally, here's an odd rumor I picked up from the Net: you may notice that some of the sports cars are disabled from the selection screen when playing in Hot Pursuit mode. Why, you may ask. Apparently, the companies that market these cars adamantly did not want their products related in any way to police chases or law-breaking, so refused to allow EA to license the models unless removed from the Hot Pursuit mode of the game. Uptight, no?
Multi, or lack thereof
The fact is, no matter how many novelties you tack on to a game like NFS3, the solo play mode is going to wear on you. When you're running just another AI-controlled clone car off the road, the maliciousness just kind of loses its sting. The good news is there's the multiplayer option at your disposal. The bad news is, though, you're limited to LAN or split-screen play because gaming over a standard modem on the Internet is pretty much unplayable.
Hats off to EA for keeping split-screen, because that type of option went out the window with many developers years ago. But hats remain firmly seated on noggins for not even trying to satisfy the urges of the thousands that want some online multiplayer excitement. Without a LAN, you'll just never be playing more than one opponent at a time unless you and your friends have high-speed Internet connections. It's rather ironic that a game released in Europe - which is famed for not being a hotbed of Internet gaming activity due to extortionate pay-per-minute local phone charges - actually implemented such a fantastically playable Internet racing game a few months ago. The game was Motorhead, and featured a simple client-server system that allow for 12 players, no less, to compete online lag-free with simple modem connections. If that's possible, then EA have no excuse for shunning the Net community with such lame network code that's not optimized for high latency play.
On the plus side, everything's in place and nicely designed for those who want to play modem-to-modem, over serial connection or on a LAN, with the traditional game lobby and splashing of host features.
Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit is a professionally produced, rip-roaringly fast, frighteningly realistic, highly customizable, indescribably fun arcade racing game with state-of-the-art visuals and sound, that's enjoyable to play in both solo and multiplayer modes. For those reasons alone, the game most undeniably deserves our shiny GDR Silver medal. A number of flaws that are not quite so crucial prevent me from going any higher an accolade - the tracks, while gorgeous and diverse to an extent, aren't quite as varied as they seem, and tallying the available tracks as eight when many parts of the maps are reused in two different courses is a little misleading. Also, the lack of support for stable Internet play over modem for a racing title in this day and age is insulting at best.
But, these are quibbles that do take a step back in light of NFS3's much more shining achievements - as arcade racing games go, there's little that can compete with the excellent standards set by this game, and no other title offers the depth that the Hot Pursuit does. So if it's high speed thrills in expensive sports cars that you're looking for, count this as a firm and very positive recommendation.
Review By GamesDomain
For the latest version of Evgeny's modern patch, check out his blog at http://veg.by/en/projects/nfs3/.
Comments and reviews
BruceLeeFan88 2019-06-23 -1 point
Upon downloading I can verify that this is the original Need for Speed, not Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit.
Hz029 2019-05-19 -1 point
Use nglide which is a 3Dfx Voodoo Glide wrapper so you can get higher resolutions, local network play works, although sometimes the connection screen can go missing. The game uses a single core so crashing or not starting on single core porcessors won't happen, if you have many cores run this for just one (disable the other cores and hyperthreading via the BIOS)
xsni 2019-04-19 1 point
Absolutely invaluable asset to retro gamers. Thanks so much for preparing this archive.
Des 2019-03-31 1 point
Awesome game, my favourite of the series.
At the time the graphics with a 3DFX were probably the best in any racer on the pc. It had fantastic wheel support, awesome tuneage, stacked up great on a LAN, and a first for DLC content, giving us the Lister Storm.
The mod scene mad the game even more.
vinzukaz 2019-01-26 0 point
Worked perfect on my system (win10 i5 R9380) great to play this classic in HD and with antialiasing!
Ysterperd 2018-12-15 -1 point
NFS was the first game I Played when i was only 6 years old and i had the 3D card for it to run max out in 2001
VS 2018-12-04 1 point
Eternally grateful to you for making these games available. Wonderful. Thank you!
matheus 2018-11-24 -1 point
o jogo que queria de need for speed 3 hot pursuit do jogo de corrida e contra os políciais
jman 2018-08-15 -1 point
Most of the games I download are missing (or it seems like it is missing) a few files. Some don't even have the installer on them.
JrRedhawk8 2018-06-15 -3 points
I still own this game on the original CD, of course I can't play it on the CD because I have Windows 10
Mike_y 2018-03-18 -1 point
It works great on Windows7. However there are many enough times when it won't start. I have the original CD with this game and from the original CD it works just fine. I will try on winXP or win98SE.
The Gaming freak 2017-12-21 -1 point
If I start the game it always shows corrupted file someone plz help
mishko 2017-12-05 4 points
For anyone, who can't run this game, try Rejzor's NextGen patch installer:
Or veg's modern patch 1.6.1 (in the time of this writing):
In both cases, you need to download the ISO from here and then mount it - Windows 10 has built in features for this, while for older Windows system I recommend WinCDEmu or similar.
Admin edit: patches mirrored on our server
Negima 2017-11-22 -2 points
The automenu.exe worked. but when i click Install, it says...
Need For Speed 3 files are corrupted; please re-install...
how could I fix it?
TuanBaoOldSchoolGaming 2017-09-18 0 point
I don't have a CD-ROM to download NFS III on PC. Can you get a CD-ROM to install this?
stingray 2017-08-16 0 point
Thank you so much..my cd was scratched and wouldn't install..YOU ROCK
Wonka 2017-08-09 1 point
I remembere having so much fun with this... downloading player created cars that was insane.. it was a good game :) especially at lan parties!!! oh i miss those!
MasterG 2017-07-25 1 point
JHN, welcome to the world of classic Windows gaming. There's no way around having the CD inserted/mounted, as the game streams data/audio from it. This is extremely common for PC games from 1994-2004.
BTW, this game is awesome and this copy works great on my Win98 PC.
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