Need for Speed: Unbound - Taking Back the Streets, In Style (Review)
Back behind the wheel
WACO, Texas (KWTX) -
Reviewed on PS5 ; Code provided by Publisher
Need for Speed Unbound is the most recent entry in the series. I gotta say this is game feels like the old school Need for Speed games. It really feels like Underground with a touch of Most Wanted or Hot pursuit. In the sense that the street racing just goes back to the pure days of the original Underground games and then also give you the thrill of running from the cops.
The game opens with you choosing between a ‘69 Dodge Charger, a ‘88 Lamborghini Countach, and a ‘98 Nissan Silvia K. I being a JDM fan, chose the Silvia of course and initially had a great time with it before things happen in the story and you are forced to start building another car. That being said the performance mods weren’t available until after you reach this particular plot point and I was getting a little frustrated with this fact. To be clear I went into this game blind and did not know whether I would even gain those options. The game also offers compete visual modification of your cars as well as performance mods and I spent way and I mean WAY too much time modding my car. The game looks fantastic blending realism with a cell shaded graffiti look that works surprisingly well.
Unbound is a fantastic arcade style racing game that never takes itself too seriously even when you’re running from the cops. The game takes place in the fictional town of Lakeshore where street racing is the bane of the local cops and government. You get all of the expected race types from sprints, to endurance, and of course drift with variants of each. My favorite is probably the more technical races with a lot of corners and multiple laps as these give you time to learn the course and also give you the opportunity to overtake other racers in the bendier bits. This game is an open world style game that gives me vibes of like GTA except without the guns and explosions. They even added in some collectibles to allow you to unlock some aesthetic mods for you cars.
Now about those cops they are a very excitable bunch and will chase you down unless you can escape will arrest you and take all of your money before releasing you. You build heat by participating in events and if you don’t evade the police quickly enough. Some races build only small amount of heat and others build more depending on the potential earnings and difficulty. You can bank your cash by returning to a safe house or the garage and you can reset your heat by ending the day by doing the same. I know for a lot of people this is a selling point as running from the cops can be fun but I for one did not enjoy the implementation of this mechanic. Honestly outside of the chases that occur after races I could have done without the cops being in the game in general. I found myself winning a bunch of money while keeping my heat low and then getting back to the garage as quickly as possible. It’s stressful and I did not enjoy it.
One of my favorite things about this game is the overall sound design. From the engine sound with the whine of that spinny boi and that sweet waste gate sound. To the exhaust with it’s pops and burbles which is actually tunable which I found interesting. Then there’s the soundtrack which sadly we cannot feature here for fear of copyright strikes. But when I tell you it is full of bangers I mean it. There’s a nice mix of hip hop techno and rock. I found myself looking up the artists outside of the game and jamming them in my car while driving in real life.
The actual driving and controls of the game are really great like right up there with some of the best racing games I’ve played. Drifting makes sense cornering feels good and even at high speeds everything feels natural. Including after you’ve played a race with very high speed cars and then go back to one of your slower cars. You get that highway lag kind of feeling were you’re like this feels weird and very slow. As usual I played this game on my PS5 and they take full advantage of the adaptive triggers and the enhanced vibration that it offers.
Aside from the cops my only other complaint is the multiplayer it is kind of a ghost town and the match making requires other actual people to be in the game who are willing to participate in the race you’re trying to start. Online mode does have a couple perks like you don’t have actual own a car in a particular class to race in it the game will provide you a loaner car to race with. However these are base spec vehicles with no mods. The other is possibly a drawback for some but I liked the fact that I got to start over and pick a different starter car and mod it to my liking.
I really enjoyed this game and even though the story is a bit cliché I found myself really getting into it and a little emotionally involved in the events of the game. Even with a less than stellar online mode it’s well worth picking it up. I struggled with the rating on this one a bit but I’ll be generous if only because of the nostalgia hit this game gave me and give it an 8.
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