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Saturday 1st April

Gaming: Need for Speed Unbound arrives this December

New NFS is a collision between cars and comic art

Published: 07 Oct 2022

With the nights already closing in and the smell of Pumpkin Spice wafting unbidden through the air, you'll forgive us for assuming we weren't going to get that long-awaited new Need For Speed game this year. Surprise, Need for Speed Unbound is coming and it's coming soon, 2 December 2022 to be exact. That's still plenty of time to rewatch the first four Fast and Furious movies in preparation, though.

The first thing you'll notice from these screenshots is the distinctive new art flourishes that accompany the action. Inspired by street art and comic books, tyre smoke looks hand drawn and a car launched through the air might spontaneously sprout hastily scribbled wings. It's going to divide the audience like a hot samurai sword through butter but, for what it's worth, we're into it. The only thing we're not sold on is the relatively simplistic character models, who look a bit like they escaped from one of those aeroplane safety videos that reminds you to take high heels off before you jump on the inflatable slide.

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What we are absolutely, unequivocally here for is the Frankenstein's monster of a Mercedes 190E driven by real-life rapper A$AP Rocky in the game. Clearly the customisation options have been overhauled to match the larger-than-life aesthetic and we're looking forward to losing hours picking the perfect smiley face aerial topper.

The action takes place in a new city called Lakeshore, which appears to be a fictionalised take on Chicago, and apparently kicks off after the robbery of a priceless car at a local auto shop. The heat system from Need for Speed Heat, which saw you gambling by building notoriety with the police, makes a welcome return and you'll be attempting to win a street racing championship called The Grand. Hopefully the name doesn't refer to the overall prize fund, because that would barely cover our aerial topper budget for the year.

There are guaranteed to be series fans who are currently furious at the sharp left turn into cartoon visuals – and do let us know in the comments if the bile is currently rising in your throat – but having played variations on this particular Need for Speed format for the better part of two decades, we're prepared for a modest shake up. And at least we don't have long to wait to find out if it all hangs together. Now where did we leave that DVD copy of Tokyo Drift...

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