Need for Speed Unbound game review: A brilliant comeback for the beloved racing game series

Need for Speed Unbound
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The last great Need for Speed game, arguably, was Most Wanted (2012). Electronic Arts has not been able to bring out a good follow-up to that. In that regard, Need for Speed Unbound feels like a year-end gift. Despite the other five games that were released after Most Wanted, Unbound is its worthy successor. 

Unbound, the 25th in the NFS edition, is predominantly a street-racing game. The story is pretty engaging. The street-racing culture of the fictional city of Lakeshore is being stamped out by a spoilsport mayor. You play an aspiring street racer, who is robbed, double-crossed, and is now racing to capture lost glory. It is a revenge story that walks the tightrope of being serious and light-hearted at the same time.

Developer: Criterion

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Price: ₹4,499 on PS5, Xbox and ₹3,499 on PC

Building upon Need for Speed Heat’s day and night structure, you race mornings and evenings to take part in several events to earn cash. The cops get aggressive at night but it is also the time when you can make most of the money. A high-risk, high-reward scenario. The neon-clad city and the exhilarating cop chases are adrenaline-pumping. The primary objectives are simple: you drive, earn cash, upgrade, and repeat.

If you get caught, however, you lose all the cash that is earned. Unbound has a tight risk-reward system that lets you bet on rivals to earn more. If you lose, you lose big, going even into minus figures. All of this is made even more intense with some brutal AI (even playing on easy mode does not feel easy). They could have toned down on the difficulty. Because it can get a bit frustrating at times. You will be in the lead throughout the race and  one incoming stray car can catapult you to the last place. The upside is, if you win, you know you did it through sheer skill, and every win gets you money and immense satisfaction. A well-timed drift and boost can propel you straight into the lead. 

This year, without a doubt, Unbound has one of the most unique art styles in a game. The hand-drawn 3D-styled graffiti is beautiful. They blend in so well with the game. The effect of speed is visceral, with the graffiti melding in with the change in the field of view.

With Unbound, Need for Speed has made a serious comeback. 

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