Generally favorable reviews - based on 53 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 53
  2. Negative: 0 out of 53
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  1. Dec 14, 2022
    Unbound is everything a fan of the franchise could want and an example of how to revamp a series without losing any of the essence of what a good Need for Speed is. More than just an excellent arcade racing game, Criterion leaves players with shining eyes as they imagine how much better this could be in the future.
  2. Dec 3, 2022
    Need for Speed Unbound is what we all needed. In a world full of racing games trying to be the next iRacing or a sim in general. Unbound says, ‘Hey, I’m really just here to have a damn good time,’ and hands you the keys.
  3. Jan 19, 2023
    Need for Speed was seriously starting to look dead and buried – and here comes the rescue party! The combination of beautiful, realistic-looking graphics and effects borrowed straight from an anime works surprisingly well, the story doesn’t get in your way and the driving model hits exactly the right spot. Even the open world is fun! This is how you make an arcade racing game.
  4. Dec 7, 2022
    Need for Speed: Unbound represents the return of Criterion as a top tier developer. The result is one of the best arcade racing games of the last few years and also, a great Need for Speed experience.
  5. Dec 6, 2022
    Need for Speed Unbound is a pleasant surprise, one of the best releases of the year and also one of the best and boldest games in the series. It's an easy recommendation for any racing games fan and we hope that EA and Criterion continue to improve the formula delivered with this title.
  6. Dec 5, 2022
    At the end of the day, Unbound is one of the best racing games this year, and the return of Criterion has proved to be the winning card for EA. It’s a fun game to play, there’s no doubt about it, and proper support for new-gen consoles means it could stay around for quite a long time.
  7. Dec 5, 2022
    Need for Speed Unbound is the best arcade racer of 2022, and a real statement from EA and Criterion. Why it’s snuck out with so little fanfare will be one of the mysteries of the year.
  8. 90
    Visually astounding with a weighty handling model and some super clever design, Need for Speed Unbound is easily the best Need for Speed in years. Though the single-player story campaign is a little less inspiring than it needs to be both in terms of its plot and content, Need for Speed Unbound nonetheless sets a resoundingly solid foundation for the Need for Speed franchise to evolve into the future and is essential for fans of both the series and the street racing genre at large.
  9. Dec 9, 2022
    One of the best games I’ve played all year, and one of the best entries in the Need for Speed series. The driving is sublime, the cars are gorgeous, the art style is striking, and the soundtrack is exceptional. Despite falling short in a couple of facets, Unbound is a must-play racer.
  10. Dec 20, 2022
    The story paints something that feels all too real-world with things like police corruption and right-wing smoke screening. Combined with real-world visuals of the city mixed with gorgeous graffiti-like special effects, it all mixes into a fantastic racing experience that is hard to quit. The only gripe is an incredibly slow progression system.
  11. Dec 12, 2022
    Need For Speed Unbound is easily one of the best racers I’ve played in recent years and a modern highlight of the series. Through great gameplay, a true sense of progression, an engaging visual style, and a well-crafted open world the game manages to cement itself as one of 2022’s most unexpectedly shining stars. A few knocks for cliché story beats, a samey soundtrack, and a few minor bugs shouldn’t be enough to keep players from driving over to the streets to Lakeshore for some stylish, speedy fun.
  12. Dec 2, 2022
    Need for Speed Unbound is a fun racer with a comic book look that challenges and motivates, but exaggerates a bit when it comes to police and story.
  13. Jan 5, 2023
    Need for Speed Unbound is a visually appealing game accessible to anyone. Hardcore fans are going to enjoy it a lot, and casual fans too. Thanks to this great work, Criterion has the window open to present new ideas like the one we saw in Unbound.
  14. Dec 11, 2022
    The best atmosphere since the days of Underground and Carbon. We love his visual and sound excesses and all the new ideas (the structure of the story mode, its surprising difficulty and its renewed and slow progression system). Control continues without convincing us (just Heat 2.0), but this is the way. Unbound gives us hope in the NFS saga.
  15. PLAY
    Feb 11, 2023
    Terrifically fast, well-balanced street racing that really makes the most of PS5. Not quite as cool as the new art stylings would suggest, but still a fine game. [Issue#23, p.68]
  16. Jan 6, 2023
    Need for Speed Unbound is the best modern NFS to date. It is still riddled with issues like rubberbanding and weird drifting physics, but it still provides its players with the best handling system in years, with grip racing finally back. With the best visual design NFS has ever had and some interesting campaign decisions, it gives hope that the series is back on track to becoming something great.
  17. Jan 3, 2023
    Need for Speed Unbound is a highly enjoyable and splendidly polished arcade racer. Criterion has picked meticulously through almost 30 years of NFS legacy, stitching together its finest elements to create a brilliant, feature-packed amalgamation that offers compelling gameplay, deep design, and dazzling aesthetics. Simply put, Need for Speed Unbound is one of the best entries in the history of the franchise.
  18. Dec 15, 2022
    Need for Speed Unbound is one of the best entries in the series since the golden days of Underground and Most Wanted. There are tons of new changes that give the game a unique spirit and the main focus on street racing combined with a generous vehicle list make this a solid arcade racing.
  19. Dec 8, 2022
    Criterion has certainly made its mark with this latest entry in the Need for Speed series, injecting a bit more fun and polish into the template created by Ghost Games. The result is an arcade racer that truly stands out from the crowd thanks to its visual flair and thrilling police chases. Providing you take the time to tweak the handling to your preferences, and you don’t mind the hip hop-driven soundtrack, Need for Speed Unbound is likely to be the most entertaining racing game you’ll play this year.
  20. Dec 7, 2022
    Like a friend that refuses to grow up, Need for Speed: Unbound brings the franchise back with all of its inherent silliness and ill-advised driving. And, just like that friend, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Its story is forgettable, and its characters are more than a little irritating, but it’s a solid arcade racer that hopefully acts as a springboard for the franchise.
  21. Dec 6, 2022
    Need for Speed Unbound brings plenty of style and builds upon the high stakes dynamic established in 2019’s Heat to create an engaging and enjoyable open world racing game. The large emphasis on story falls flat once again particularly during the slow opening hours, and the online mode lacks some of the best aspects of the single player mode, including police and Takeover events. Fortunately, the excellent performance and smart overhaul to the turbo system ensures the moment-to-moment gameplay always feels great, and the huge amount of unlockable vehicles, customization options and optional activities and collectibles means there’s always plenty to do each time you make the trip to Lakeshore City.
  22. Dec 5, 2022
    Need for Speed Unbound feels like a breath of fresh air. The arcade-style racing has seen quite a significant improvement from its predecessor, and the game’s general styles and sensibilities definitely make it one of the most unique-looking racing games out there.
  23. Dec 5, 2022
    Despite one or two small complaints, Need for Speed Unbound is a great arcade racer, finally getting the series back on track. The versatile handling feels fantastic, and the single-player offers a highly engaging campaign, pitting you against the cops and other racers in equal measure. The much talked-about cartoon effects succeed in bringing some flair to the experience, and it all runs wonderfully at 4K and 60 frames-per-second. If you can forgive a slightly underwhelming backdrop and a barebones online mode, the minute-to-minute action make this more than worth taking for a spin.
  24. Dec 4, 2022
    Beyond its unique art style, Need for Speed Unbound doesn’t do anything to reinvent the steering wheel, but it doesn’t need to. This is Need for Speed, so you know what you’re here for - fast races, cop chases, and more cars than you know what to do with. Unbound is all of that packaged in the series’ most stylish entry to date.
  25. Dec 2, 2022
    With Unbound, Criterion take a big step in the right direction and delivers gripping action races paired with exciting police chases.
  26. Dec 2, 2022
    Need for Speed Unbound is a great showcase for a new generation of hardware. Criterion has delivered a high quality, breathtakingly fast open-world street racer that is both technically superb and strangely familiar.
  27. Dec 2, 2022
    Need for Speed Unbound does not reinvent the wheel, but it does tune it. Criterion Games wanted to stand out with its new artistic style and has succeeded. We are not facing the best driving game of the year, but we do see an NFS that wants the saga to return to the highest categories. Fun, fast and furious.
  28. Dec 13, 2022
    The latest title in the NFS franchise came back with fresh visuals. While driving on the road without any concerns and making to the top of street racing are always fun, even the lowest 'relaxing' difficulty seems not so relaxing for those who trying to enter the franchise for the first time.
  29. 75
    Need for Speed Unbound marries classic NFS gameplay with a hot new graffiti-inspired aesthetic. Gameplay-wise, it’s a safe approach that sticks to what has always worked for NFS, with police playing a big part during races and open-world exploration. Thankfully, the visual shift does a lot to make this racer feel fresh, taking it in a different direction from the likes of Forza and Gran Turismo. Those looking for an arcade racer with some attitude should check out Unbound, as it wins far more than it loses, and looks great doing it.
  30. Dec 28, 2022
    With a distinct and interesting artstyle, which mixes a realistic car and city with streetart cartoon drawings for special effects, NFS Unbound definitely sets itself apart from the rest. The game sports a Souls-like mechanism of risk vs reward and a day-night cycle that work, but also hinders progress through the storyline. the races are fun and the many collectibles are well integrated. The near-mandatory police chases quickly become a nuisance and we wouldn't mind if those didn't make a return.
  31. 75
    There's a lot to like in Unbound, but some of the characters and the tedious police chases bring down what is otherwise a thrilling high-speed race through Lakeshore.
  32. Dec 11, 2022
    Unbound succeeds where NFS Heat had failed, namely to give a little life and flavor to the discovery of the open world called Lakeshore City.
  33. 75
    Need for Speed: Unbound is a particular project, capable of forcefully bringing street culture back into fashion, the contemporary one of generation Z, but unable to create new spaces of playful expression. Everything that revolves around the characters in the story and our avatar works like a god, from the style chosen to describe them to the guide system, from the soundtrack to the graffiti-style special effects, in contrast with a Lakeshore which, despite its vibrant technical, remains an ordinary and almost anonymous city, a hub with a few collectibles scattered around that act as glue for a rather lazy play structure.
  34. Dec 6, 2022
    Need for Speed Unbound is the franchise’s best entry in a decade, although the competition for that title wasn't particularly stiff. The game offers polished tech, good (if slightly dated) open-world design, and a varied array of events and challenges, but still lags behind the current open-world racer pack leaders. The fantasy of becoming an underground racing champ is also hampered by a restrictive, ill-considered progression system. Nostalgic fans will find plenty to like here, and more general players might want to consider a test drive once the game is marked down, but “need” may be a strong word to attach to Criterion’s latest.
  35. Dec 6, 2022
    A totally cool game for racing games fans. With new ways of driving, in-race betting and enhanced challenges. Undoubtedly Need for Speed Unbound gave fans something they expected but sadly it's not perfect as it doesn't support all wheels which is a total waste.
  36. Dec 5, 2022
    Need for Speed Unbound is a fun racer with some new event types and an unusual yet undeniably attractive visual style. However, it doesn't do a ton to set itself apart from other racers that are currently out there and its story mode can be quite limiting.
  37. Dec 11, 2022
    Need for Speed Unbound could have been one of the best entries in the legendary series. It has great visuals, an good soundtrack and a lot of collectibles, but fails to deliver a better racing experience. The progression system is a mess and there are more police chases than actual races.
  38. Dec 19, 2022
    Need for Speed Unbound sees Criterion put its spin on the formula laid down by its predecessor and the result is a stylish racer that is mostly fun but sometimes frustrating.
  39. Dec 16, 2022
    As a standalone title, or if it's your first NFS, it's not bad, but it's not the kick-start the series needed. If you're looking for a game to kick back and play race after race, Unbound has enough content to keep you glued to the screen.
  40. Dec 14, 2022
    While Criterion has successfully returned to the genre, it feels like the developer is being held back from delivering a truly colorful and over-the-top experience it's previously achieved in games like the Burnout series. The team should take the driving mechanics and the cartoony visual flairs from Need for Speed Unbound and turn those features up to the next level in their next arcade racer.
  41. Dec 13, 2022
    Need For Speed Unbound delivers everything fans of the series will want, with a cool new art style too. But due to some woeful voice acting and a lack of spectacle, it fails to deliver on the aesthetic it hoped to achieve.
  42. 70
    Need for Speed Unbound is a refreshing entry in the franchise, with new visual effects that enhance its sense of style. But for all the good that it does, it commits the cardinal racing game sin by periodically forcing the player to slow down, resulting in a fun, but mixed gameplay experience.
  43. Dec 7, 2022
    Need for Speed Unbound is not trying to be an ultrarealistic simulator or even a super comprehensive open-world online racing game experience. It wants to be a stylish, tough, and rewarding ode to street racing culture. While it’s not the best in its genre due to some weak writing and eventual repetition, Need for Speed Unbound is a surprisingly entertaining racer in a year that hasn’t seen much racing game excitement since Gran Turismo 7.
  44. Dec 7, 2022
    Put that unfairness together with the annoying tendencies of the cops in Need for Speed Unbound, and the entire experience is full of peaks and valleys that curtail the progress that this game is supposed to be making. Beyond its art style that stands tall on its own, Need for Speed Unbound feels less like an innovation and more like a new body kit installed on an old engine. When the competition is already miles ahead, what this series needed was a nitrous boost of epic proportions, but sadly, it doesn’t seem like it will ever catch up.
  45. Dec 7, 2022
    Need for Speed Unbound is a game that favors glamor and style over substance. It’s an absolute visual and aural treat. Don’t get me wrong, the art direction is phenomenal, especially with the combination of unique cel-shaded effects and photo-realistic graphics. I mean, they even got A$AP Rocky to feature. I keep wanting to push the pedal to the metal and thoroughly enjoy what the game has to offer, but the endless bloat and grind to get there is beyond disheartening and frustrating. Criterion has promised free content updates in the future, so here’s to hoping it satisfies the needs of the Need for Speed community. But what Unbound has to offer at this moment is a high price tag, a cliche narrative, and an average racing experience.
  46. Dec 6, 2022
    For every well done aspect of Need for Speed Unbound, there are two or three that leave something to be desired. The narrative doesn't have to be the main focus, but it's lazily done, via offscreen dialogue that takes place while you're in the menu. The new Takeover events don't deliver the fun they promise, and the police chases leave much to be desired, but the core gameplay, along with the soundtrack and vehicle customisation, is so good that there are moments when you forget all about it. At 300km/h, it all gets a bit blurry, doesn't it?
  47. Dec 4, 2022
    Need for Speed Unbound delivers a controversial "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" style, with cel-shaded characters within a realistically rendered world, but gameplay-wise the beautiful open world of Lakeshore City is somewhat not much interesting to explore.
  48. Dec 2, 2022
    Definitely a step in the right direction for the series, with really good ideas, that can become repetitive in the long run.
  49. Dec 3, 2022
    It's ironic how a product called "Unbound" is, in contrast, still so harnessed by the canons of traditional open world racing games, resulting all too similar to its direct predecessor. Need For Speed Unbound is a solid title overall , provided, however, that you approach it without too many pretensions. Net of some structural problems that can make you turn up your nose, the game manages to entertain, thanks to a deep customization of the vehicles and a multiplayer that works properly. The original sin, however, lies in the wanting to insist on a slightly lazy playful formula. production that unfortunately does not deviate from the trend that starts from Burnout Paradise and links all the Need For Speed released in the last decade, son of a repeated life a little indolent. There is therefore a need for Electronic Arts to get back on track and engage the turbo as soon as possible, if it wants to return to excel in the panorama of arcade driving games.
  50. Dec 14, 2022
    Need for Speed Unbound can be called one of the better games in the franchise thanks to its fine gameplay and fun races. At the same time, we can't ignore the fact that the police feels unbalanced and the game suffers from a lot of pop-in. Also, the balance between cars is not good and the checkpoints are awkwardly placed in certain races. Every positive point also has a negative counterpart, which ultimately makes it nothing more than a mediocre racer.
  51. Dec 11, 2022
    Need for Speed unbound offers some genuinely cathartic, high-speed thrills, but it does little to turn heads besides wearing its flashiest colours.
  52. Dec 7, 2022
    I can live with many of Need For Speed Unbound’s faults. Admittedly, there were fleeting moments when I enjoyed the routine of earning cash, upgrading, outrunning police, and climbing Lakeshore’s underground racing ranks. But, when a Need For Speed game spits in the face of people that use wheel and pedal setups, it’s tough to feel a need for anything other than a need to play a better game. There’s a foundation here to build upon, but EA and Criterion have their work cut out for them if they ever hope to compete with the giants of the racing game scene.
  53. 60
    The best Need For Speed in a decade – but that says far more about the moribund state of the franchise than it does this workmanlike new entry.
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  1. Dec 6, 2022
    Heat, a solid game that built up a dedicated audience, probably didn’t get the fairest shake in public opinion after it launched three years ago. Electronic Arts reorganized its action-racing development in response. Unbound arrives with the same lack of glamour, the same diminished cachet, but it is so much more fun, and so much more worth my time racing and running from the law, that the game feels like racing’s comeback player of the year. [Polygon Recommends]
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 524 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Dec 3, 2022
    I dont really see this game being any different than nfs heat. i dont know why this game gets so much hype. also i hate the fact that thisI dont really see this game being any different than nfs heat. i dont know why this game gets so much hype. also i hate the fact that this idio* named LPRIPPER just tries every single way to idolize this game so much. probably paid guy. his image of lashing on ppl doesnt help either Full Review »
  2. Dec 2, 2022
    EA got so lazy. Just like Dirt 5 and Grid Legends almost feel like the same game, Unbound is like an S version of its predecessor. Same game,EA got so lazy. Just like Dirt 5 and Grid Legends almost feel like the same game, Unbound is like an S version of its predecessor. Same game, "Different" improved graphics. Boring, not original, not worth the money. Been playing this franchise since the 1st game was out, I'm 41 years old and can safely say that for me, this is the least favorite one i have every played . Full Review »
  3. Nov 30, 2022
    Take positive reviews with a grain of salt, the game is barely out and the NFS community is already prepped for damage control. It's mostlyTake positive reviews with a grain of salt, the game is barely out and the NFS community is already prepped for damage control. It's mostly the same as Heat with minor tweaks and improvements, but a 70 dollar price tag for this game is laughable. If you enjoyed Heat you'll find some enjoyment with Unbound, since it recycles much of its car list, drifty car handling, and mediocre police chases. Also, there is no way to completely remove all stylistic effects.

    If you are expecting a return to early 2000's gameplay, you wont find it in Unbound. Consider waiting for a sale if you really want to try it as the game is in no way worth full price.
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