Test – Need for Speed ​​Unbound – Full speed ahead!

Three years have passed since the release of Need for Speed ​​Heat. The arrival of the new opus, named Unbound, is dated December 2, 2022. For this title, Electronic Arts called on the developers of the excellent Burnout series, Criterion Games. Following the trailer, which was confusing to say the least from the point of view of the artistic direction, we were eager to discover this new NFS controller in hand. What about the story and multiplayer modes, the various transformations of the vehicles, the grip, the soundtrack and of course the artistic direction? Let’s find out together!

Welcome to Lakeshore

Need for Speed ​​Unbound starts with choosing the difficulty. We have the possibility to choose between Relaxed, Stimulating and Intense, thus modifying the percentage of health of the vehicle, the number of possible tries, the difficulty of the police and the level of competitiveness of the opponents. Of course, we can modify the difficulty at our leisure in the game options. Following this, we can choose to start the story, play online or go through the settings. Let’s focus on these first.

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In addition to having the possibility of modifying the difficulty, the type of transmission, the tremors of the camera and the display of the camera and the meter, we can opt to activate or not the cross-play. In addition, the audio options are particularly advanced. Indeed we have the choice between several audio channels, mono, binaural, stereo, 5.1, 7.1 and automatic. Automatically, the game detects the hardware connected to our console, in our case the binaural. We also have the possibility of activating the directional voice mode as well as the different volumes of music in pursuit, open mode and during the tests. Without forgetting the usual choices of sound level of the car, voices, effects and radio of the police. Let’s start the story now!

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We begin the adventure by choosing the character and its appearance. Everything goes there, whether it’s the haircut and color, facial hair, facial details and glasses. Then we can choose the outfit of our pilot. Nineteen brands are present such as Versace, Fila, Vans, Champion, Puma, Mki Miyuki Zoku and many others. Finally, we must choose the pose of our avatar among thirty-three choices. While some are immediately accessible, others are unlockable after completing challenges in the game. Finally the long-awaited moment, the choice of our first car. Our heart decision is the Lamborghini Countach, but we could have taken the ’69 Dodge Charger R/T or the ’98 Nissan Silvia K’s. We then begin the tutorial behind the wheel of the Lambo. A woman named Jasmine, alias Jas, is sitting on the passenger side to check that our old wreck has been restored. After a short session of learning to drift and nitro, we engage in a rally of cars. Of course, the police keep watch and we flee with the others. During a cutscene, we meet our boss, Rydell, who is probably quite happy with our renovation. He advises us not to hang out with shady guys but still encourages us to win street races. Once the first one is over, it’s time to choose between Play, Cars and Character. What would a street racer be without a real, highly personalized car? Let’s find out what it is!

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Like any good self-respecting Need for Speed, tuning lovers will be thrilled because there are a multitude of choices to transform our pumpkin into a gleaming carriage. We have access to no less than five customization menus, all of which have submenus. In Body it is possible to apply a body kit, to modify the parts that make up our car and to set the body height and the camber. For the Paint and dressing menu we can apply the color of our choice among many shades, but also a lot of stickers. Despite this we did not find an Xboxygen logo, yeah, so so, this game, but it does not matter, we are catching up on a magnificent black matte carbon color! The little extra is to be able to discover the creations of the other pilots of the NFS community.

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Next come the steering effects. We can choose the tags, that is to say all the cell shading effects applied to the new game from Criterion Games. The Samples submenu gives us access to the sound effects applied when the nitro is activated. Then we can modify in Accessories the sound of the horn, the emblematic neon lights and install an air suspension.

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We have the choice to adjust the sound to the exhaust by adjusting the timbre, the tone, the detonations and the forced admission. Well yes, before seeing us, passers-by must hear us. Once the prologue is over we unlock access to the Performance menus to improve the power of our beauties, the purchase-sale and finally a space to choose our favorite car. We also discover that we have to upgrade the garage in order to be able to buy high performance parts. Street riders will only see our taillights!

When we’re down, we can only go up

After selecting the Play menu, we have access to the map to choose the route for our first gathering. By selecting it, we discover important information such as the price of registration, the gains received by finishing in the different places and especially the level of alert increase. Let’s not forget that the police are always on the alert in the streets of the city. Fortunately, the patrol cars are marked on the map by a small chevron, which multiply according to the level of alert. Be careful, however, to be careful when trying to escape because the police are quite abrupt and the health of our vehicle quite low. No need to worry if a gas station is nearby, just go through it to find a “like new” car without a single scratch.

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For information the Pause menu gives us access to a photo mode, yes yes we see you salivating professional photographers, as well as adjusting the behavior of our rocket on four wheels. Road holding, steering sensitivity, aerodynamic downforce, traction control and how to trigger drifts are fully configurable, a very good point! After ridiculing a few police cars, we are ready to start our first competition and thus begin our rise in the world of street racing. We finish quite easily in first position and are invited to return to the garage. This completes our session and we can then cash out our hard-earned money as well as bonuses such as new cars, tags and clothes for our avatar. Unfortunately for us after a few races, we witness a reversal of the jacket on the part of Jas who will steal all of Rydell’s cars, including the magnificent Lamborghini… It goes without saying that we end up at rock bottom with our boss. Fortunately, two years later, a patron named Tess will give us the chance to get back in the saddle. So here we go again for a ride!

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If the day is for touring, the night is for crime! Night events offer big rewards, but their alert level is higher and the one earned during the day does not decrease, except when returning to the garage. The accumulation of races and the alert level brings in a lot of money, but keep in mind that playing cat and mouse can quickly turn into a nightmare. Sometimes it is better to gain a little than to lose everything. Need for Speed ​​Unbound’s story works in the form of a timeline. Indeed we must accumulate enough money during the week to be able to participate on Saturday in a qualifying race and this over three weeks. The fourth Saturday is dedicated to the Lakeshore Grand, the ultimate race! Races are categorized into five power groups ranging from B to S+. We have the choice between street, endurance and speed races, head-to-head, drift events and takeover which is similar to gymkhana. We mainly win money but it can happen that cars are also part of the winnings.

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Apart from the races we can perform various activities that allow us to unlock poses, cars or tags. We have the opportunity to take big jumps, burn rubber in speed and drift zones, find murals and wooden bears or even deliver cars in record time or without scratches. A small money bonus applies to each activity carried out. But it is even more interesting to validate the challenges (find gas stations, unlock hideouts, win races etc.), because they bring us a lot of money. Another great way to line your pockets is to bet in addition to competing. Before each race, we can bet against another driver and pocket a little more money if we beat him.

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Now that we’ve talked about story mode, let’s move on to multiplayer. It’s very simple, the game is basically the same as the single player mode, except that we race against other players. We still have the garage, car upgrades, modification of our avatar etc. On the other hand, even if the activities are common to both modes, the money is not. So if we choose to validate the challenges and activities in the multiplayer mode, the earnings are not paid into the solo. It’s a shame that Criterion Games didn’t create more interactivity between the two modes.

A Need for Speed ​​in all its glory

Now let’s talk about handling. For connoisseurs of Need for Speed ​​titles, you will not be out of place. The game is arcade as possible and very easy to learn. The neutralizations of the police cars, achievable in the same way as the “Takedowns” in Burnout, are quite easy to achieve and once we understand how to escape, the difficulty of the game seems minimal to us. The soundtrack fits perfectly with the game. We mainly hear Hip-hop and some electronic pieces. Some tracks are in French, which is not displeasing to us.

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Now for the trickiest part of this test, the art direction. Criterion Games has chosen to incorporate cel shading in its new game. This graphic style is found in cutscenes as well as when our car is subjected to a nitro gain (drift, jump and suction), but also during impacts and high speeds. Even if in the first minutes we are a little destabilized by this artistic direction, we quickly forget the integration of cel shading. Plus it’s a great visual aid when we’re racing and looking to take the slipstream behind a competitor, or want to trigger a drift as it’s immediately visible on screen.

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As for the rest of the graphics, there is only one thing to say: the game is magnificent. The vehicles are perfectly reproduced, the lighting sublime both day and night, the scenery diverse and varied and the impression of excellent speed. The English studio has a perfect command of its subject and it shows on the screen.

For achievement hunters there is really no difficulty in getting the 1000 G, other than the time it will take to get them.

Tested on Xbox Series X (optimized version)

We would love to say thanks to the writer of this write-up for this outstanding content

Test – Need for Speed ​​Unbound – Full speed ahead!

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