It’s been a long time since Criterion Games worked on one of the biggest racing game franchises, Need For Speed, and the game has really achieved except for one thing. After a year delay, the new NFS game has finally arrived to wow us with its stunning visuals and overall art style. The last NFS game from Criterion Games was Need For Speed: Most Wanted in 2012, which got a lot of good reviews at that time. It was one of the pinnacles of the franchise as it was also remastered due to the great gameplay and overall concept of NFS. After 10 years, will Criterion Games again make a die-breaking game for the NFS series? Let’s find out.
NFS Unbound Review: What is Needed to Get Unbound Speed
Need For Speed: Unbound is the next installment of the popular Need For Speed racing game series. The Need For Speed series generally focuses on illegal street racing and missions that players have to complete in order to unlock better and faster cars. There are a lot of different types of racing that can be played as you evade the police in their quest to shut down all the racers in their quest for high-speed glory. In this new installment of the racing game franchise, you have to go through weekly qualifiers to get to The Grand, the ultimate challenge of Lakeshore street racing. You need to fill your garage with speed demons, decorate to finish, light the streets with them, and leave your opponents in the dust. Finally, show your style with different customizations, and listen to the vibrant global soundtrack that will keep you excited for every race.
Need For Speed is now back to the heyday of its former creators, Criterion Games. Criterion acquired the rights to the franchise from Ghost Games after the addictive Need for Speed Heat in 2019. Unbound, originally planned for 2021, was delayed to allow Criterion to help with Battlefield 2042. Was it worth the one-year delay to release a great game? The answer will be yes and no.
Like any NFS game, Need For Speed: Unbound focuses on the player controlling a third-person vehicle to race against time and other racers and complete missions to unlock more to fine-tune the best vehicle you can own. There is also a mode where you can customize and redesign your car to your liking to stay stylish in the race. In this game, money is king. The more money you earn, the more cars and parts you can unlock, but it is not easy to earn money as you think. Even if you withdraw a large sum during the day from the game, you still have to evade the cops and transfer your winnings to your garage. If you are accidentally caught by the cops while holding all your money then you will lose all of them, your time and effort. The game is about no risk, no reward, so you better watch out and get a little risky with your life. There are 3 game modes that you can choose from however you want to play your game. Relaxed, hard and intense. It’s up to you how you want to experience the game on each difficulty level.
What excels in style may lack substance. The different story and art style make it look like a new game, but this is actually the biggest difference between NFS Unbound and its previous release, NFS Heat. Aside from that, the game feels like a clone of how NFS Heat is played. They also have this recurring formula where you start with a very long introduction to setting everything up, giving you a net and a foe for your journey, NFS Unbound is not much different. You will also find yourself spending early game dollars to win and buy more cars and parts, to get a better competitive car. It’s the exact same one that NFS fans know well but might be boring to some due to its repetitive nature.
NFS: Unbound might be able to appeal to younger audiences or the next generation, but it might not be as fun as it could be for fans who played the game 20 years in the making. The game could be better, like how you defined it the way it is now, when NFS Most Wanted was released.
The story revolves around two friends who are unable to stop a robbery in a family car shop. They’ve now been given the chance to make their mark on the streets earning delegates and working their way into the Grand Prix and retrieving the stolen custom car. You, as the player who controls the fate of friends, are tasked with taking risks to gain attention in order to reach the Grand by taking on the Lake Police Department or betting on rivals. Although it’s up to the player how you want to make your mark on the streets, the more attention you get, the more likely you are to run the risk of getting heat.
You as a player have a total of 4 weeks to enter the ultimate street racing event. Every Saturday of each week there is a qualifying event that the player can enter, but this requires the player to enter using the money they won during the week. Each day has two chances for the player to earn the coins required for the subscription as well as a chance to improve their vehicles. These two opportunities are divided into a day session and a night session, giving the player a total of 12 sessions to earn before each qualifier. With all sessions completed, money earned or lost is tracked to compare weekly playoff requirements. Each session will determine each reward opportunity, challenge, and even police attention. As part of the player’s path, they will also meet A$AP Rocky, a notable rapper and fashion icon, for the chance to take him face-to-face to a test of skill and style.
The story and gameplay build on each other, as the player performs daily tasks to earn street credits on their way to the ultimate street racing event. The game definitely gives off a racing movie vibe due to the story and timeline of how it turns out in the end. Winning the jackpot will make you the king of the streets.
Need For Speed: Unbound has taken a different direction in terms of its art style and we love every aspect of it. While the general map and landscape itself is similar to Need For Speed: Heat’s Palm City, Lakeshore City is more realistic and feels much more alive. The city, the rural area and even the huge highways come alive with pedestrians, traffic and the overall structure of their environment, even their nature.
The visual effects in the game are also quite interesting giving it a street art inspired feel as drag racing has become. Some would even say that the animation is of art as this is the first NFS game to have a cartoonish approach to the game. You will feel the nitro power, burning tire rubber while drifting, and fast acceleration due to its visual effects which make your car more lively than before.
Music and sound design
There is also a soundtrack that would also capture the airbrushed art style of street art. From the sound effects of each car race, even the BGM of the game itself, it’s reeled in the style of NFS: Unbound. This is a new take on the franchise as most of the time the music and sound design will focus on the fast paced car chase music which always references its name, Need For Speed. However, this latest version takes the style to a different level, giving the game more life that makes you sway to the music while playing the game. This is one aspect you don’t want to miss as you may want to add their OSTs to your playlist.
Need For Speed: Unbound has a lot of accessibility options that you can change such as difficulty, hud settings, audio and visual graphics, controls and camera works for better experience of your game. Even with its medium to high requirements for smooth gameplay, there is an option to lower it to enjoy the game with a normal device.
The bottom line, Need For Speed: Unbound is a great and addictive installment to the NFS series with its fresh visual effect, but where there’s an upgrade on Style, there’s a lack of Substance. The game is still the same as any NFS game of 10 years ago. If you are a fan of the NFS franchise, I would say that the game is definitely worth it $69.99 For its different art style as well as an interesting story. Hopefully, there will be gameplay updates and patches that really break the mold of an NFS game since it was just released. Maybe a different game mode will be added, which will make street racing more interesting.
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