Gameplay, Story and Value:
For all intents and purposes, Need for Speed III is your pretty typical racing game. You’re able to select from a handful of game modes, a handful of cars, and a handful of tracks, and then you’re literally off to the races. Modes include your standard Race, Time Trial and Tournament options, as well as the Hot Pursuit mode for which the game is named.
Before I get into the actual racing, however, I really wanted to take a second to mention the Options menu. For a 90’s racing game, the options are pretty staggering, allowing control over not only button assignments, but also analogue stick sensitivity and dead zone detection. Well done!
The racing itself is… okay. Controls are arcady and sometimes a bit unnatural. You have a bit of control over drifting and sliding, but it doesn’t feel like there’s much of a skill ceiling. Single player races are plagued by some incredible rubber-banding, which I’m personally not a fan of. It’s not fun maintaining a lead just to nick a fence and suddenly be in last place.
Hot Pursuit mode has you engaged in a one-on-one race with another driver, all while trying to outrun the ever-present police force. As the race goes on, you’ll have faster and faster patrols chasing you, and if they manage to slow you down enough you’ll eventually get arrested, or worse, lose the race!
Presentation, Music and Sound:
In motion, Need for Speed III actually looks pretty good. Environments are large and distinct, and offer some fun driving opportunities. The cars themselves all look fairly generic, and you’ll never see very many of them on the screen at once, which is a shame. It’s not amazing, but there’s little pop-in and I never noticed anything particularly distracting. My only real complaint is that road detail falls off sharply in the distance, which can make judging turns difficult.
Music is generic as can be, with tracks ranging from “That Rock Guitar Solo” to “Maybe Hip Hop?”. It’s not offensive, but it doesn’t really add anything either. The sound effects are also only just passable, though kudos to the often hilarious lines coming from the cops in Hot Pursuit mode.
Fun / Afterthoughts:
I can’t say I hated Need for Speed III, but I hardly loved it either. I don’t really feel like it did anything particularly special, even for its time. I’d really rather play almost any other competent racing game over this one, and all I really have to offer this game is resounding indifference.