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Have You Played… Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit?

"He’s going more than 100!"

No, not that one. This one. Confusingly known in North America as Need For Speed III: Hot Pursuit, this 1998 racer was a steel-blue feast of dropdown menus infested with cars. Click on one of these three-dimensional motorbeasts to hear the silky voice of every US infomercial telling you about horsepower and gear boxes and how the Alfa Romeo Scighera “embraces dynamic new design influences.” Oh yes, that’s the good stuff. That’s some good cars right there.

But Hot Pursuit got its name from its best feature: police officers. These cop cars were always in the Need for Speed series in some way. Here, they patrolled the highways and caught you speeding down country roads. They gave chase and chattered over the radio in an effort to cut you off and put you to justice. Another mode let you play as the cop, but that was never as fun as outrunning Johnny Law Wheels yourself, dodging road blocks and ignoring traffic.

And when you did get caught driving dangerously fast, threatening the lives of everyone on the road (even school buses presumably full of terrified children) the consequences were comically negligible.

“I’m gonna pretend your accelerator’s stuck and let you off with a warning,” says a frozen policeman standing next to a cop car, a vehicle almost as flashy and expensive as your own. “But don’t try it again.”

Of course not, officer. Of course not.

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