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Need for Speed Unbound Review

Need for Speed Unbound

Developer: Criterion Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: Xbox Series XPlayStation 5PC (Reviewed)
Release Date: 2 Dec 2022
Price: – $69.99 USD – Available Here $109.95 AUD – Available Here


Another year, another Need for Speed title. As many of you (probably) do, I also have a lot of history with this franchise. High school years and Need for Speed Underground….my first job and Need for Speed Carbon, bought my first console and tested Need for Speed Pro Street on it. It seems like this series has been around every relevant milestone of my life. The series also had its ups and downs, but you can’t deny one thing – it always wanted to try something new.

What we have now is a new entry called Need for Speed Unbound. A fresh art style, fresh characters, and a new story. Let’s see if another venture into the unknown will pay off for this title.


Let me ask you something; when was the last time you genuinely paid attention to the story for any of the Need for Speed games? The only one I can somewhat remember is the one from Need for Speed Most Wanted and that’s mostly because of that BMW M3 GTR. Every other had the same old gimmick of climbing up the ladder, proving themselves, taking down rivals, evading cops, and being the very best racer in….whatever big city you’re in at the moment.

Need for Speed Unbound is no different in that regard. The only exception is that a star of the show (besides you) is a cell-shaded version of an American rapper A$AP Rocky, although if you ask me the real star of the show is his custom Mercedes 190 E (which you can get if you beat him later in the game). Everything else is the same old formula of beating everyone else before facing a sudden but inevitable betrayal from someone close to you, then beating some more odds stacked against you ad finally coming out on top. Eh, what can I say. Not great, not terrible.


While most of the creativity was spent on visuals (more on that later), the core of the gameplay has remained pretty much the same. If you played any of the previous Need for Speed games, you know what to expect. Aside from easy-to-spot story missions, you also have a bunch of collectibles around the map in the form of speed traps, breakable objects (billboards, bears), drift zones, speed runs, and so on.

One thing that takes a lot of time to get used to is the drift mechanic during races. Turning corners without breaking and holding that direction will shift you into a hard drift turn which can be quite helpful at tight corners but also a bit also somewhat problematic when you just want to gain some speed – and a random mild turn is there to just completely kill your top speed and acceleration. At least you get some nitro whenever you do such a drift corner maneuver, so there’s that. As for the rest of it, car controlling is quite improved compared to Need for Speed Heat and there is more freedom when it comes to customization – especially regarding full-body kits.


The cream of the crop. The icing on the case. It’s no secret that during promotional videos for Need for Speed Unbound the visuals were taking the spotlight. So what are we talking about here? Well, most of the cars are cell shaded as well as your playing character and everyone else you meet in the campaign. Also during braking, cornering, jumping, and boosting your car might get temporary visual effects in form of colored smoke or wings. It is purely visual and has no effect on gameplay and depending on how you customize those effects, it can range from barely noticeable to heavily distracting. Imagine a 6 player race and all of those visual gimmicks light up as all of you enter a tight corner. Points for trying out something new, I guess.


And now….the soundtrack. A bit of everything is thrown into the mix here. The official soundtrack for Need for Speed Unbound is certainly eclectic if anything. There are some French tunes, a bit of Russian, and as you might expect, a couple of tracks from A$AP Rocky. Is the soundtrack good? I can’t say quite yet even though I put more than 20 hours into the game so far. It doesn’t sound bad but it takes some time to get used to it. It’s like EA wanted to play it safe at the same time while trying something new with their song selection. The result is a tracklist that might only “click” with you while you’re halfway through the campaign.


I feel like my opening line of the review could also serve well as a perfect closing line. Another year, another Need for Speed title. Cause that’s what pretty much all of it is. The gameplay went through minor tweaks compared to the previous title, and the story is tacked on and merely there so you don’t feel like you’re going aimlessly from point A to point B. The visual gimmicks might serve their purpose for some cool screenshots but most of the time they stand out as you play, and not in a good way.

It’s all more of the slightly same. I could only recommend it if you feel like playing some fresh racing title and perhaps you’re suffering burnout from Forza Horizon 5. Does this game offer anything new? No, and it doesn’t really feel like it’s trying to. Might give it a chance so you can get behind the wheel of that gorgeous Mercedes 190 E. What you get from this game is based on how much you expect and my honest advice would be to keep your hype and expectations low and you’ll be just fine.

Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.


Minor gameplay tweaks and some cool visuals are introduced, but that's hardly enough to keep any part of the game above average. Not great but also not terrible.
Admir Brkic
Admir Brkic
I play video games from time to time and sometimes they manage to elicit a reaction from me that I can't help but to write about them.
Minor gameplay tweaks and some cool visuals are introduced, but that's hardly enough to keep any part of the game above average. Not great but also not terrible.Need for Speed Unbound Review