Need For Speed Unbound Review - Comic Book Racing
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Need For Speed Unbound Review - Comic Book Racing

The first thing that jumps out when starting Need for Speed Unbound is its vibrant art style. At a time when most other racing games are striving for photorealism, EA's latest distinguishes itself from the rest of the grid by adopting a stylized mix between reality and comic books. While its cars land on the side of realism, the characters behind the wheel are cel-shaded and its open world falls somewhere in between the two aesthetics. Vivid graffiti-style flourishes also pop up when you activate nitrous or fly off a ramp, and drifting kicks up colorful tire smoke that looks hand-drawn, with all of these effects punctuating the action with a unique sense of style.

There aren't any modern racing games that look quite like it, yet the rest of Unbound feels like a continuation of 2019's Need for Speed Heat. From the distinction between day and night races to the cat-and-mouse chase that occurs when you have to outrun the cops and make it to a safe house in order to bank your money. Unbound doesn't attempt to reinvent the wheel, but what's here maintains the series' recent quality, even if there are some wrong turns along the way.

As is now customary in Need for Speed games, Unbound features a rather forgettable story about getting back at a former friend who stole your ride. There's little point in delving into details because, ultimately, it's inconsequential. Cutscenes are sprinkled in every now and then, but for the most part, the story is just sort of there, happening in the background as you drive around the city, so at least it's unobtrusive. There's some fun incidental dialogue every now and then, including one mission where you're traveling with a "weeb racer" who spends the whole journey telling you about the history of anime and how it definitely isn't a cartoon. Rapper A$AP Rocky also makes an appearance (because why not?) and it feels like he was given a microphone and free rein to say whatever came to mind. It's a moment that stands out in a game that's filled to the brim with ancillary dialogue. Aside from this, the story is relatively easy to ignore, but it does succeed in giving impetus to the game's structure.

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