The very first thing that jumps out when beginning Want for Velocity Unbound is its vibrant artwork type. At a time when most different racing video games are striving for photorealism, EA’s newest distinguishes itself from the remainder of the grid by adopting a stylized combine between actuality and comedian books. Whereas its automobiles land on the facet of realism, the characters behind the wheel are cel-shaded and its open world falls someplace in between the 2 aesthetics. Vivid graffiti-style thrives additionally pop up while you activate nitrous or fly off a ramp, and drifting kicks up colourful tire smoke that appears hand-drawn, with all of those results punctuating the motion with a singular sense of favor.
There are no trendy racing video games that look fairly prefer it, but the remainder of Unbound seems like a continuation of 2019’s Want for Velocity Warmth. From the excellence between day and night time races to the cat-and-mouse chase that happens when it’s a must to outrun the cops and make it to a secure home in an effort to financial institution your cash. Unbound does not try to reinvent the wheel, however what’s right here maintains the sequence’ latest high quality, even when there are some unsuitable turns alongside the way in which.
As is now customary in Want for Velocity video games, Unbound includes a relatively forgettable story about getting again at a former pal who stole your trip. There’s little level in delving into particulars as a result of, finally, it is inconsequential. Cutscenes are sprinkled in now and again, however for essentially the most half, the story is simply form of there, occurring within the background as you drive across the metropolis, so no less than it is unobtrusive. There’s some enjoyable incidental dialogue now and again, together with one mission the place you are touring with a “weeb racer” who spends the entire journey telling you concerning the historical past of anime and the way it positively is not a cartoon. Rapper A$AP Rocky additionally makes an look (as a result of why not?) and it seems like he was given a microphone and free rein to say no matter got here to thoughts. It is a second that stands out in a recreation that is stuffed to the brim with ancillary dialogue. Apart from this, the story is comparatively straightforward to disregard, but it surely does achieve giving impetus to the sport’s construction.
Unbound takes place throughout 4 in-game weeks. On the finish of every week, there is a sequence of qualifying races that finally result in a grand finale the place your goal is to precise revenge by successful the entire thing. There is a buy-in for every qualifier, so you may spend the times main as much as every one participating in numerous races and occasions in an effort to earn sufficient cash to enter and improve your automobile alongside the way in which. Apart from racking up stacks of money, every of those occasions additionally catches the eye of the native police drive. Should you’re busted by the cops earlier than making it again to a secure home, you lose all your winnings and should transfer on to the subsequent day, including pressure to every run-in with the regulation.
Want for Velocity Warmth adopted the same construction, however whereas that recreation featured authorized avenue races all through the day and unlawful avenue races at night time, Unbound takes the illicit route 24/7. This implies there isn’t any respite from the police’s consideration, and any cash you make throughout daylight hours must be banked at a secure home earlier than you possibly can transition to the night’s races. Your warmth stage carries over, too, and solely resets when you’re performed for the night time, so it is as much as you the way a lot police presence you wish to accumulate all through the day earlier than the solar disappears over the horizon. Evening occasions are inclined to characteristic considerably larger payouts, however they typically require a selected stage of warmth or a sizeable buy-in if you wish to take part. You’ll be able to nonetheless earn cash taking up smaller occasions, however the elevated threat of the bigger occasions comes with large money prizes. You are pressured to weigh up your choices when deciding what to do on a day-to-day foundation.
These selections are extra impactful throughout the early recreation when the automobiles you are driving aren’t fairly as much as snuff. Unbound is surprisingly difficult in its first few hours, and I respect how onerous it makes you’re employed to attain victory. You are competing towards drivers which can be merely quicker than you, racing in souped-up automobiles that your preliminary junker cannot sustain with. You start by butting heads with these in the back of the pack, however you possibly can place a wager firstly of every race that you’re going to end above a sure driver, providing you with the prospect to earn some further money whereas setting a goal to beat even in the event you’re not competing for first place. Ultimately, as the cash begins flowing in and also you’re capable of afford extra car upgrades, you possibly can see the hole shut as you begin attaining larger finishes and selecting up victories. You are made to work your means up and the tip result’s a palpable and satisfying sense of development.
Unbound’s driving mannequin can also be versatile sufficient to permit for a few completely different racing kinds. Every automobile’s dealing with falls into one in every of three classes: drift, grip, and impartial (which sits in the midst of the opposite two.) Should you love careening round corners sideways, a automobile that emphasizes drifting will make life simpler. However, in the event you desire slowing down and hitting the apex of every nook, a grippy automobile is advantageous. Whichever type you select rewards you with a bit of nitrous for pulling these cornering methods off efficiently, which makes each viable. Regardless of which automobile you select, nevertheless, they’re all stricken with a extreme case of understeer. This makes it really feel such as you’re attempting to steer a bus across the metropolis, however I discovered that you would be able to alleviate the problem considerably by going into every car’s dealing with settings and transferring the slider for steering sensitivity to “excessive.” It isn’t a super answer however does make the dealing with really feel extra responsive and exact.
Like different arcade racers of its ilk, Unbound is constructed round accumulating NOS by performing completely different actions corresponding to drafting behind different racers, driving into oncoming visitors, and getting airborne. You could have a standardized nitrous meter that may be consumed in a single go for a prolonged pace increase, however Unbound additionally introduces one other sort referred to as Burst Nitrous. Because the title implies, this allows you to activate a brief burst that operates off of its personal cost system. Drifting, as an illustration, will replenish this separate meter, letting you explode out of a nook with a fast surge of pace. It is a enjoyable new addition that offers you extra alternatives to make the most of nitrous whereas additionally incentivizing dangerous driving.
The one draw back is that the AI does not at all times play honest. Different drivers tend to match your tempo everytime you deploy nitrous, whether or not they themselves are boosting or not, which dilutes the delight that activating NOS ought to invoke. The main AI automobile will generally zoom forward as effectively, ending the race greater than 30 seconds quicker than everybody else. This occurs seemingly at random and seems like reverse rubber banding, providing you with no probability of catching up.
Different frustrations revolve across the police, notably early on. You could have little recourse in the case of preventing again, so police chases can final for a great lengthy whereas when your automobile’s not the quickest. This ramps up the stress even additional and the pervasive feeling that you just’re severely outmatched is not a damaging, but it surely’s disheartening while you lastly evade seize solely to enter one other protracted chase when a police automobile spawns in entrance of you. Undercover cops really feel notably low cost as effectively, since they do not seem in your radar. Even in a while, when escaping turns into a lot simpler, Unbound floods the streets with extra cops which makes getting from race to race a tedious affair.
A few of these points have been additionally current in Want for Velocity Warmth, doubling down on the notion that Unbound is a lateral transfer relatively than one which pushes the sequence ahead. It is no worse nor higher than its predecessor, making for one more thrilling arcade racer that is nonetheless held again by a couple of annoyances. It is one other constructive final result following the low level that was Want for Velocity Payback, however Unbound is unlikely to emerge from the shadows of the style’s hottest video games.