Is Need for Speed Unbound Worth It? Review

Need for Speed Unbound is the new entry into the Need for Speed. It brings some major changes that make Unbound a different game than others in the series. For starters, art design has seen a major change. It has cartoonish effects that make the game feel different. Controls have also been updated which has made it a different kind of experience. The changes are surprising in many ways as it takes the series in a new direction.

NFS Unbound is being developed by Criterion Software, who are the developers of the Burn Out series. The impact of the Burn Out series can be seen in the gameplay. The art style of the game pops up on the next-gen hardware. Everything is more vibrant and the rendering of cars is more robust. There is a noticeable improvement in the open-world formula.

The progression system is similar to the previous Need for Speed game. Just like the previous game in the series, Need for Speed Unbound has the day and night cycle. The way to earn and progress has also seen little changes. The core gameplay loop is similar to the previous game with some changes. All this makes you wonder Is Need for Speed Unbound worth It? Let’s find out.


The story is not the center of attraction but it is not an afterthought which is usually the case with Need for Speed games. You create a character with a decent amount of options. A friend will betray you and your story starts as you catch up to him. There is not much depth to the story but it is enough to keep you going.

Cut scenes and presentation of the events are good. Story segments do not pop up that often. Need for Speed Unbound can look good when it wants to. Dialogues are generic and there is not much depth to it. This much is expected because Need for Speed usually works this way.

Things are not particularly embarrassing but there is a lot of embarrassing stuff in dialogues. There are funny lines here and there. Prologue is surprisingly long and it lasts for a few hours. There are not many complications to the game as the story is generic. However, it has more depth compared to the previous Need for Speed and Racing games in general.

The Loop

The gameplay loop starts from the safe house then you drive to the event. Escape the cops and race as the heat builds up. You drive back to the base and then bank cash. It will take a while to access a lot of safe houses.

Driving to and from events will consume lots of time and you would need to avoid cops while doing so. It is a lot of fun in the beginning but becomes stale as you constantly do it. You don’t get much reward from escaping the police which makes them feel like an interruption that can break the pace of the game. Police chase can quickly become a drag.

Cars are good and there are a lot of them. You will not see a lot of cars in regular story mode. Cars are expensive so buying them is hard in the regular story mod. Most cars that you get will get a chance to drive will be the rewards from different races.

All the cars are well rendered with lots of customization options. There is a creative suite in Need for Speed Unbound that players can use to share their build of the cars. Players are making good cars in the suite that you can copy and add to your car.


The game has upgraded handling that work well enough. Players will be using speed in lots of drift moments. In the beginning, cars are slow, and controlling them is hard. It is one of the reasons that the first few hours are difficult. Upgrading your car will help with its performance and handling.

You can survive several head-on collisions before the repair is needed. Driving through the gas station will repair the vehicle. So, Need for Speed Unbound has a damage system though it is not as realistic. Hitting an obstacle or probes at the side of the road will easily break it with not much impact on your cars. The lack of proper feedback upon hitting something feels bad. The feedback that you feel upon hitting something is way less than the amount of damage you do.

Near misses, drifts, jumps, and slips will fill up the boost. Driving on to incoming traffic will fill up the secondary boost. If you go off flying and flip off then you will respawn a little behind your previous position while still in motion.

Less Reliance on Cheat Difficulty

AI of the racer is relentless and they can get ahead of you. You won’t even have a chance to catch up to them. AI will not rubber band unlike other racing games but it does increase the difficulty.

Vehicle rating is important as it can help you win races. If you are a car with a higher rating than your opponents then winning is easier unless you screw up. The game does not rely on cheat difficulty that much since vehicle rating matters in a race. Need for Speed Unbound makes it so that you have one high-rating car at the top of each class.

The game has betting mechanics that can be really helpful at the beginning of the game. Instead of betting on the best racer, you can bet on another driver that is easy to beat. Such mechanics give you more credible goals to reach out to.

The Art Style

The style of racing is refreshing if nothing else. Boosting and jumping cause graffiti to pop from the side. Drifting causes to create smoke from the tires. Cartoonic effects will pop up in cut scenes from time to time. All of it looks great and gives identity to Need for Speed Unbound which is unique to it. The series needed that change because Need for Speed games does not stand out just by looking at them. If the series stuck with this change, it will give identity to it.

Need for Speed Unbound does not push the art style as far as it could have. Maybe they are leaving this for the release of the next Need for Speed game. Certain moments in the race or cut scenes will bombard you with lots of effects. The moment-to-moment gameplay is simple. Need for Speed Unbound looks good even if it is different than other racing games. Having more effects in the moment-to-moment gameplay would have been nice.


The campaign revolves around a tournament that is going to take place in one month. There are four weeks which are divided into seven days to prepare. The qualifier of each week takes place on the seventh day which is a Saturday. You have to earn money, upgrade the vehicle and make it so that you meet the requirement of the tournament.

The day and night setup is similar to the Need for Speed Heat. The difference between day and night is the police response. Police are more aggressive at night but the reward is also high. Night events have a bigger entry fee but you earn more as well. It is a high-risk high-reward situation.

The structure is good but gets repetitive after a while. More varied events could have made it better. It is mostly about doing lots of racing to progress. There are things in the open world such as drift challenges, time trails, escape from the police, and things like that. All of it has been in previous Need for Speed games so it’s nothing new. There is one new event called Takeover. In that event, you have to run over as many objects as possible to build a high score.

Manage the Heat

Managing the heat is important since it dictates how aggressive the cops can be. Every day starts with zero heat that rises as you participate in different race events. Police will look for you and this heat will go on at night time as well. You have to be careful how much heat you build up. Getting captured will result in you losing all the money and advances time. You only have four chances each day to restart an event. Need for Speed Unbound has high stake police chases.

Police response is better and they are relentless in the high-level chase. In lower levels, it is easier to deal with the police. At first, you have to deal with petrol cars that can barely keep up with you. Eventually, you will start dealing with interceptors, heavy ramming vehicles, barricades, and helicopters. High-level vehicles will keep on smashing until you are down. It is important to keep an eye on your heat level.

You can’t continuously bank cash. To bank the cash, you must go to a safe house that advances time. One race at night and one race at day are not going to earn you enough money for the next qualifier. So, you have to rinse and repeat to get enough cash.

It makes you strategize what you are doing since you can only restart four times per day. If you end up doing too many mistakes the only option to make things right is to restart the day. The other option is to accept what you have and continue with it. All of it combines and makes the opening hours pretty challenging compared to the rest of the game.

General Gameplay

Cars are realistically rendered and there is a contrast between the cartoonish and realistic part of the game. We have seen this formula and Need for Speed Unbound perfectly implements it. The two art styles perfectly blend to provide an amazing experience. The cartoonish style could have been pushed more but it is what it is.

Money does not come easy so you won’t be buying cars constantly. At least not in the beginning since you will be spending most of the money on upgrading vehicles. You are not going to get much money in the beginning which is another reason that the game is difficult at the start. Once you start upgrading the vehicle it will become easier.

Open-world stuff is not any better. There is stuff to run over, graffiti to collect, speed traps to drive through, billboards to smash, and things like that. Open-world stuff is generic like previous games in the series. The open-world stuff adds little to the experience. There is not something new in the open world that we have not seen in other such racers. After the credit rolls, you are free to do whatever you want. Complete challenges buy as many cars as you want.


Need for Speed Unbound takes the series in a new direction through its art style. It looks good and plays well. The campaign is not an afterthought which is usually the case with racing games. It’s not like it is a story-driven experience. The visual experience is also good and it truly shines as a next-gen experience.

The cartoonish effects add something new that was never part of the series before. Developers could have pushed it further but maybe they are saving it for the next game in the series. If developers continue with this art style, it will give the series a unique identity. There is a lack of verity and the structure can feel repetitive which can have an impact on the campaign. More variety in events could have had a better experience because it starts to feel thin after a while.

Visuals are the biggest change and to top it all off, it doesn’t push microtransactions. The racing is solid and the controls do not feel clunky. If you are looking for an old-school racing experience that doesn’t shower you with reward every step of the way Then Need for Speed Unbound could be the game for you. It is not reinventing the wheel but it does offer a good experience.

Buy from Our Affiliates and Support Play Ludos By Clicking on This Link

Discover more from Play Ludos

Subscribe to get the latest posts sent to your email.

Leave a Reply