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PlayStation Plus Just Added 2022’s Most Stylish Arcade Racer

Driving games can loosely be divided into two sub-genres: simulation and arcade. The former category includes the likes of Gran Turismo or Forza (not the Horizon series) and focus on more realistic racing. But the latter is all about fun over realism. 2022’s Need for Speed Unbound, the latest release in the long-running racing series, is squarely in the arcade sub-genre thanks to its flashing aesthetics and open-world racing that prioritize making the player feel like the coolest racer on the block. It’s a hell of a good time and with its addition to PlayStation Plus there’s never been a better time to hop in the driver’s seat.

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The name of the game in Unbound is style. Your car, how you race, and your customizable protagonist are all about looking as cool as possible. When beginning Unbound, the first thing you do in story mode is design a protagonist. That’s pretty unexpected, given that most of your time in a racing game is spent looking at the back of a car and not a character. But this game wants you to put thought into who your racer is and how they look. Even more surprising is that the game gives your unique character plenty of screentime, so it’s worth the time investment.

This personalization extends to your car, too. Whether it’s changing out the vehicle itself or fine tuning parts, materials, and paint job, designing your car is an extension of your style and personality in the game. This is highlighted by graffiti-inspired screen effects that appear during races when you’re boosting and pulling off big jumps. It all leans into the fun side of the arcade racer.

Not to be outdone, the racing of Unbound is a thoroughly satisfying affair. Pulling many of its mechanics from its immediate predecessor, 2019’s Heat, Unbound is a world of illegal racing with a constant sense of danger. There is a day-night cycle but unlike in Heat, which lets you race during the day without worry, racing in Unbound comes with a risk of police interference at any time. Every race can end with police chasing you, and if you don’t get away then you will lose your hard-won prize money. It adds an extra shot of adrenaline to switch from a fast-paced race into a high-speed pursuit. The variety of races on offer in Unbound’s open world make it a perfect playground, and drifting and speeding through obstacle courses is a particular highlight.

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