NFS: Unbound | The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

BY EffieMeow ON March 03, 2024

Rating: 7/10
Time to beat: 28h 57m
Platform: PC/Windows
Cost: £8.39 (Sale)

With the Need for Speed franchise being passed around more than your mum over the years, this entry was developed by Criterion Games, the masterminds behind the "Burnout" series, though it's issues transcend just this developer, NFS: Unbound is very much a run of the mill arcade racing title that makes some attempt to distinguish itself via art style and a compelling story. I'm not sure if this is just my friends, but when this game came out we never truly gave it a chance and just wrote it off based upon the visual style alone. However, going back to it a few years later I've realised there is quite some charm here that made for a pleasant experience overall.

The Good

As ever, the visuals in this 2022 Need for Speed release are beautiful. The attention to detail in the cars and world is stunning and the reflections of the rain on the vehicles are just so good. The stylised "tags" customisation is really neat with my personal favourite being the "Batman" looking one.

Speaking of customisation, the cars are heavily customisable with a wide range of options. You can even engine swap a W16 Chiron engine in to other cars which is awesome honestly. This is paired with a bunch of visual mods and an admittedly okay range of cars and allows you to put your own stamp on the gameplay. Also Praise the lord the Lotus Exige is an actually useable car for once and not just a punching bag that's undrivable like all of the other Need for Speed titles I've played.

Furthermore, the whole A$AP Rocky integration into the storyline and gameplay was pretty cool in my opinion honestly. There was a really strange mission where Rocky just goes on a whole monologue for no apparent reason but it was manageable and his custom Mercedes is really cool so it made up for it. With a rapper integrated into the storyline, this also meant the game had a great soundtrack, one of my favourite things to do had to be just cruising while listening to "Where is my mind?" by Tkay Maidza, to the point where I've been still listening to this song in rotation after putting the game down for good.

The Bad

I know asking for high quality storytelling in a Need for Speed game might be madness, but this story is generic as it gets. The quality of the voice acting is fine, and the characters felt like real people mostly, but the whole "We are gonna put our garage on the map!" narrative has just been done to death.

My main gripe with the visual fidelity is the stylised characters throughout the game. It is so ugly. I would have much preferred the extra effort to make better quality models, but I guess that was just the style they were going with. It is also just perpetually raining, I can't help but feel the lack of other weather is just so lazy on Criterion's part. I don't just mean snow or other interesting conditions, I would have liked it to just be clear or sunny every now and then.

The Ugly

Not driving a drift car is simply not an option in most cases. The understeer when you tune for grip is crazy to the point where I gave up and sold certain cars to buy a more reasonable one. This was an issue at least as far back as Need for Speed (2015), so the fact the physics have not been updated to fix this issue is astounding honestly.

Finally, the cops in this game are infuriating to no end. Once you hit a wanted level that includes helicopter patrols you might as well call it a day as they just do not leave you alone. All I'm saying is if the budget for this police force went in to literally anything else, they'd solve world hunger overnight. I was so done with it by the end I felt a wave of relief after beating the game.

Should You Play This Game?

This game is absolutely worth a play through. It may not be perfect, but there is so much good here on offer that if you can pick it up on sale like I did, you are seriously getting a steal.

Overall I'd give this game a 7/10. :3

- Effie <3

Previous NFS Review:

Comments (0)