EA finally released a trailer for the newest installment to the Need for Speed series, and while it’s certainly different, it does give off deja vu. Unbound will be the next entry to the NFS series, and it isn’t the first time the NFS series took a new direction in artstyle.
We won’t be focusing on the gameplay, cars, maps and other gameplay aspects; rather, the direction that EA has taken for the game. We could only judge the game from the recent trailer and a few screenshots, so it’s safe to say that this may not be the final product. Needless to say, the graffiti/comic book effects in the trailer seems to be implemented in the game, and this is sure to divide the NFS community. Previous (modern) titles never had anything like it, with a bigger focus on realism for everything outside of its physics and car handling (with the exception of NFS Payback, which was a whole Fast-and-Furious-esque experience).
Up until now, almost all depicted characters in the franchise were depicted realistically thanks to motion capture, and in the case of renowned titles Most Wanted (2005) and Carbon, were real actors playing their part. We can’t confirm whether or not this will be final, but we assume it will be. Unbound’s people will be cel-shaded; a lost art in modern gaming that only saw the most usage in several 2000s games. Cel-shading is a great way to emulate minimalistic graphics, which goes in tandem with games that are made with some form of manga/comic styles in mind. Seeing cel-shaded people in a racing game won’t be the first, but it does feel strange having this artstyle sit next to the cars, which are depicted realistically. Personally, I don’t mind how they look, and it certainly stands out from its competitors.
One comment that effectively inspired this analysis was how the newest game looked like an older title; that being Nitro. It was EA’s attempt at introducing the franchise to younger players, with deformed cars reminiscent of Facebook game Car Town and a much more ‘arcadey’ handling. It was only released on Nintendo’s Wii and the DS, which does explain why it isn’t talked about as much as other NFS games. It had one distinctive feature that most NFS games never touched on: graffiti. The game had a huge focus on coloring the maps with the players’ chosen motifs and car color, and I couldn’t help but think this was somewhat like Splatoon on wheels. Despite that, I have played the DS port, and though it isn’t the best, it was different, in a unique way that never felt like it belonged to NFS, as it was such a blaring contrast to the entire series.
p dir=”ltr” style=”line-height: 1.38;margin-top: 0pt;margin-bottom: 0pt”>NFS Unbound might not be for everyone, but we can’t immediately assume that everything in the trailer is gameplay footage. We’ve only got one trailer and it only showed 2 seconds of what seems to be actual gameplay, so fans of the franchise will have to wait longer for EA to drop more info. Regardless, to see such a drastic change from the teasers and leaks that were spread to the internet might be a shock for the fandom, especially seeing cel-shaded ASAP Rocky. As a guy that’ll be watching on the sidelines, Unbound will certainly be an interesting addition to the franchise, assuming that Criterion Games is capable of pulling it off just right.