NFS Unbound, the first entirely new game in the series in three years, has arrived and will release in 2022 with a range of customizable cars, night-time races, police pursuits, and A$AP Rocky.

Little History

NFS is a series that in the last few years has failed to find a winning formula of arcade racers that it became famous for in the 2000s.

However, the time has finally come for the franchise to at least go in the right direction, while NFS Unbound is perhaps the originator of something new and better, which I hope Criterion will look back on more and more in later iterations.

This is the best NFS in probably the last ten years, unless you’re a fan of the relatively infamous drift system that debuted in 2010’s excellent Hot Pursuit.

Then there was the (de)evolution through the next parts, where I specifically mean the mild rebuttal of the franchise in 2015, which returned to street racing in full, which ultimately did not help the series much.

NFS Unbound takes certain elements from its predecessor Heat, such as the day and night system, where it introduced new risks and difficulty. But if the police catch you overnight, you lose all the money you’ve earned.

However, this time the Heat level, i.e. how wanted you are by law enforcement, is carried over into the night segment and only resets when a new day begins.

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Story behind NFS Unbound

The story is surprisingly interesting – it’s a simple premise with a decent plot, where your character and his extremely likable mentor Tyrell are left with almost nothing.

Two years later, it’s time for revenge and redemption, and in four weeks you’ll be racing for the ultimate prize in a race called The Grand.

Simple and predictable but fun, where both the characters and the story are solidly done, despite the numerous forums and dialogues that will often cause you to transfer the blame.

This sense of limited time, where for the last race you have to collect four cars from four different categories introduces a certain level of tension, the possibility of failure and completely changes the atmosphere of the game and additionally brings importance to the money you earn and can lose at any time.

However, what Unbound changes compared to its predecessors is the driving system, which, although it still contains that unsatisfactory drifting even at the sharpest corners and the highest speeds, brings back the reading of racing lines and driving with grip on the surface without skidding.

Cars are now finally possible to drive in this, let’s say “standard” way, without losing to drifter monsters like in the last few games.

Nfs Unbound

Downsides of NFS Unbound

Unfortunately, the problems still exist, considering that the drift still does not excel in its implementation.

The number of tracks is also relatively low, so already within the first two weeks you will see most of the tracks that the game has to offer, but what works in favor of it is that the map and the tracks themselves are much more fun and intuitive than before.

You will often have numerous jumps, interesting canyon sections, streets with shortcuts, loops and the like, which maintains some arcade racing dynamics, even with the repetition of the mentioned tracks.

The main problem is the AI and the so-called “rubberbanding”, which somehow became a feature of the NFS games, so you will often see the game favoring you or completely burying you in the ground depending on where it instantiates the AI, teleports them or lets you along with some lucky collisions and the like.

Additional events are also present, be it simple time challenges or escaping from the police in a specific car.

The occasional rides of one of your rivals are commendable, which further evokes their character.

These rivals now all have personal biographies, which is a nice detail and manages to give extra context and weight to some races, especially with the extra lines of dialogue and name-calling you’ll receive during them.


NFS Unbound

Pros for the NFS Unbound

Of course, you can customize your car in Unbound as well, and that aspect is still very good, allowing you to change many points on your vehicle, be it spoilers, bumpers, fenders, lights, exhaust and the like, but there are still slight limitations for certain models in the form of selecting these components or moving the height of the car.

The selection of cars is quite solid with 140 different models and 20 custom variants, which together generally covers all the classic archetypes of street racers and vehicles, so you’re sure to find something that suits you.

Unbound’s biggest asset is not only a slightly better driving system and an interesting campaign, but also an excellent visual design, which includes not only the city of Lakeshore and its surroundings, but also a very original and fascinatingly adaptable comic style that adorns the game.

The cell-shaded approach that Unbound takes integrates beautifully with the otherwise realistic environments and vehicles, adding a number of effects when using your nitro drive or drifting, so that any aspect of the smoke and crashes is decorated with lovely neon lines and clouds.

This gives a very original stamp to the game, successfully differentiating itself from all the racers and that in the most positive sense.

In case you still like a relatively sterile ride, you can turn these effects off, leaving only the characters as the only aspect of this comic book design.

Nfs Unbound

Some Interesting Facts

It should be added that the famous rapper A$AP Rocky is also here, who for some reason likes to use a gas Mercedes 190e from the nineties of the last century, which will surely be important to some fans of modern trance, but certainly this vibe and culture is somehow strange. and interestingly fit into modern street racing.

The audio design is solid, but the background music still lacks a bit more genre diversity, because I strongly doubt that everyone will like the narrow-minded selection of trap and DnB tracks.

The voice actors have nothing to be ashamed of, even when they say some lines that would make your stomach turn, because the characters are generally still believable and give the impression of real people, which has often been a problem for NFS games.

Optimization and performance are more than satisfactory. The game actually performs very well in single player and meets some modern visual criteria, running at 60 FPS on PS5.

Final words

All in all, while full of flaws, Unbound is finally something that gives faith that NFS can return to those glorious paths of the Most Wanted era, and until then, this is the best modern NFS you can afford. He definitely pleasantly surprised me!