Platform: Xbox Series X
Also on: PS5, PC
Developer: Criterion games
This is where I will be transparent. Need For Speed Unbound was not something that I had in mind. I used to look forward to EA’s Need For Speed offerings at one point, but it’s been a while since I’ve actually played one. I was surprised to discover that Need for Speed Unbound is one my favorite games of 2022. I was even more shocked to see that the Criterion games developers of Burnout, one of my favourite racing franchises, breathed new life into Need for Speed (with a little help by Codemasters, makers Grid and Dirt).).
Need For Speed Unbound stands out thanks to its bright colors and distinctive art style. Need for Speed Unbound stands out in a genre that tries to be photo-realistic. Its cell-shaded anime style makes it stand out. The game launches and you’re immediately taken into the action. There are police following you. You are transported back to the Need For Speed games from the past.
Following the steps of 2019’s Need For Speed: Heat, your calendar is split into day & night races and events. As you progress through each event you’ll gain “heat”, which will put you on the authority’s radar. Heat can bring new challenges and dynamics to each event. Some events start in the middle or at the end of a chase. This can make it difficult early on because of the lack of horsepower in your ride. You can lose your day’s earnings if you’re busted or destroyed by the cops. It brings the day’s events to a screeching halt and you move on to the next day. My favorite part of the game is the police chases. It’s satisfying to take down cops, get around roadblocks, and dump cop cars in the river. Each morning, your heat level is reset and the money that you earn from each event goes towards your safehouse.
You can take part in many different events each day. There are many events that you can participate in, including 8-driver races, 4-driver races, drifting events, and a trick showcase. You will be challenged by the races. You have to be near perfect to make sure you’re keeping up with the leader of the race. Boosting will keep your place in the race, while driving recklessly will make sure that your boost meter is always on. Each race is also subject to additional obstacles from cops. If you get a bad result or crash into another world, you can choose to start over. You are afforded a certain number of restarts per day depending on the difficulty you’re playing on.You’re also allowed to challenge a racer and make a side bet to raise more money for your weekend qualifier.
The narrative is somewhat dated and repetitive. It felt like it was ripped from a 2000’s street racing film. I won’t really spend much time on the story. Just like those movies we’re not here for that. We want to race, customize and customize our cars. The game offers a wide range of licensed cars for customization. Surprised at the variety of clothing customization options. These options are not available in any other game. There are many options, including high-end Versace and Palace, a popular streetwear brand. These options make the game look the most beautiful. It stands out from its peers due to the bright colors and designer clothes. The title runs at dynamic 4K resolution with 60 frames per second. There are stunning lighting effects, shadows, and rain effects that make Lakeshore’s cars and streets come alive.
The only problem I have with the open space is that it feels too empty. There is plenty of space, even outside of downtown Lakeshore. There are many collectibles that you can make money from, but it can be a little tedious without a reliable transportation system. There are many things you can do to find street art, bear statues or knock down police signs. If you’re a completionist like me the offline map stays open after you beat the game to collect what you may have missed. Similar to other games, you can participate in street events like speed zone and danger jumps to earn money.
The online version is different from the single player experience. Transferring money to a single player will earn you more cash. After the single player campaign ends, you have more options with different challenges and a racing playlist. There are no cops patrolling. To make the online mode more robust, I would love to see a cops-versus-robbers mode.
If there was one thing that I looked forward to in Need For Speed Unbound, it would be the soundtrack. The soundtrack matches the current racing genre standards in music. ASAP Rocky is the main host, and the soundtrack includes 72 songs from more than 25 artists. It’s one of the best in-game soundtracks for 2022. There is a missed opportunity to have some in-game radio stations though, think “Crash FM” from the old Burnout series.
It’s difficult to stand out in a crowded racing world, but Need For Speed Unbound manages it. This title is the best in years, and it sets a solid foundation on which to build. After years of being in an identity crisis, I can see this game developing from here. NFS Unbound is a showcase of what the future holds for the series, with a consistent 4K resolution at 60fps.
EA provided us with a Need For Speed Unbound Xbox Code for review.
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