Need For Speed Unbound moves away from the street racer fantasy


NEED for Speed Unbound released yesterday (December 2), and there was a shocking short time between official announcement and release.

Less than three months in fact, which was apparently a choice made by marketing, to help release pressure from over-hyped releases. 

A new era for Need for Speed.

It comes with a new cel-shaded style, though this is apparently the only part of the new Need for Speed that is rooted in fantasy.

We spoke to the game’s creative director, Kieran Crimmins, about the game, and how the decisions behind the changes came about.

He says: “It’s a completely reworked handling model and physics system”.

The cars now drive completely differently, on a new game engine made specifically for the latest generation of consoles.

However, Crimmins assures us: “We’re well known for our arcade racing sensibilities so when you play it, it should feel the same.

“But also the depth and the mastery you can achieve with the physics calculation that we’ve completely upgraded.”

The series has long had its roots in street racing culture, which has long been glamorized by movies like The Fast and the Furious.

While Unbound will be “Very loosely based on reality, but not completely uninformed by it,” there is definitely a change from the fantasy the series is known for.

Speaking in more detail, he says: “Need for Speed fits in a funny space in that sense, I believe the best Need For Speed games were heavily based in a kind of street racing fantasy.”

Underground, Heat, and the original Most Wanted are strong examples of this fantastical influence.

Crimmins explains: “There’s a fantasy behind that about being an illicit street racer. 

“Betting all your money with an underground group of people, racing with the cops trying to shut you down.” 

However, in the upcoming game the team doesn’t want to disregard the reality of the culture entirely. 

He claims: “It’s a fantasy loosely based on reality. 

“We do a lot of research with street racers in different communities, we have documentaries, behind-the-scenes stuff, and interviews with people from the LA street racing scene and the Chicago street racing scene, and they talk about the gritty reality of those scenes”.

The art style goes against this idea, as Crimmins says: “We really don’t look to fully recreate the reality. 

“What we try to do is transpose it into this fantasy space, where not only is it a bit more accessible for everyone, but also it’s a bit hyper-real, a bit heroic.”

Over the past few generations, the racing genre has become a crowded one, with many different takes and levels of realism out there, but Crimmins thinks Need For Speed still stands out amongst the crowd. 

He explains: “I think Need For Speed as a brand has always been known as a bit of a trendsetter, a bit of a rulebreaker, something different every time. 

“We’re gonna do our own thing and do it very, very well.”

Need For Speed Unbound was released on December 2 for PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S.

Written by Ryan Woodrow and Georgina Young on behalf of GLHF.


Did you miss our previous article…