Need for Speed ​​Unbound: gaming and street art for Creative Director Kieran Crimmins

Need for Speed ​​Unbound: gaming and street art for Creative Director Kieran Crimmins

Need for Speed ​​Unbound

From the very first images, Need for Speed ​​Unbound proved different from all its predecessors. Electronic Arts' famous automotive saga returns with this unconventional chapter developed by Criterion Games and due out on December 2, 2022 on PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X | S. The operation carried out with Unbound is singular, because we are talking about a new chapter and that visually detaches itself from the production of both the past of the franchise and with the current competition. An artistic mix that combines street racing with street art and the contemporary music scene. Yet despite being all new, Unbound feels a bit like a homecoming to some players, back in the days when automotive tuning culture was rampant and Fast and Furious was a film with a sequel and spin-off all. 'active. We talked about this and more in the interview with Kieran Crimmins, the Creative Director of Need for Speed ​​Unbound.

Back on the road

Need for Speed ​​Unbound puts players back on the road Need for Speed ​​Unbound arises from a profound dualism: it is clearly a new creature, which however is not afraid to look at the past of the series, because tones and atmospheres are certainly those of Underground and Most Wanted, chapters particularly loved by fans. However, in the time that separates us from these episodes of the saga, the culture of the automobile has changed and tuning, the cult of the "souped-up car", has disappeared somewhat from the radar. We asked Crimmins, then, how Criterion approached the challenge.

"When we started working on Unbound we wanted it to be evident that the player's fantasies were at the center of everything. This is what we took from Underground and Most Wanted, the power fantasy of underground racing. Instead of recreating an old chapter on a one-by-one scale, however, we have taken its atmosphere, modified its content, because as mentioned, fashions and culture change ".

No more racing on the track, no happy and organized festivals in compliance with the law, with barriers for the public and everything in between. Unbound brings Need for Speed ​​back to the street, in a context of total illegality, where one clandestine race after another rushes through the city streets to defend its reputation as the best street racer on the square. Obviously it is absolutely not our intention to be moralists, also because, while Crimmins talked to us about the atmosphere of Unbound we nodded enthusiastically to his words, but a minimum of critical reflection on this aspect we felt we could do it with the developer.

Why it's true: video games are pure fiction and certainly a player does not become a criminal when exposed to a certain type of content. But that of Need for Speed ​​is a real illegality, within everyone's reach and that, paradoxically, many of us have also experienced. And there is no need to have competed in a clandestine race in the industrial area of ​​our city, consuming trains of tires to the sound of donuts: how many have we been fined for speeding? The thrill of the speed limit is democratic, and for this reason even the fantasy of the clandestine race becomes more difficult to approach on a creative level. "Obviously it's a video game, not a representation of reality. We certainly don't want players to decide to really drive like in the game!" Crimmins says. "What we want to do with Unbound is to create a compelling experience. We tried to reproduce the illicit nature using narrative elements, giving the player the feeling of being important, of competing for a high stakes, of having an emotional bond with your car and to be the best on the market with it ".

Everyone likes the thrill of speed To do so, Criterion has developed a narrative campaign with the aim of introducing the player to the world of Unbound, exploiting the elements already mentioned by Crimmins. Specifically, the creative director tells us: "We have a very talented narrative team that has taken inspiration from reality. They put in realistic stories, that someone may have actually experienced, that can seem authentic even after the writing process. In short, the first. what to look at in a good story is that the writing is sufficiently compelling and that the characters are well structured and interesting. So we always start from there, and then the real journey, the journey they face, is told through the relationships between characters and environment. I don't want to spoil, but there will be many conflicting situations in the Unbound campaign ".

The freedom of the street

Street art is at the heart of Criterion Games' inspiration For a good part of our interview, we chatted with Crimmins about the aesthetics of the game, far removed from any contemporary canon. The trend of arcade racing games is to opt for a hyper-realistic approach: the cars are perfect, reproduced in detail, with shiny dashboards and sparkling bodies. With Unbound, Criterion has made a very bold choice, using a more cartoon style for characters and special effects, keeping the silhouettes of the cars recognizable but enhancing some proportions. Inspiration, says Crimmins, always comes from the series' past. "When Underground came out, I remember playing it for the first time and being absolutely blown away, especially with respect to the innovation the game brought to the scene. And once again, that feeling of inspiration, individuality, cutting-edge creativity, is the core of the thinking behind Unbound. We didn't just want to create another Need for Speed, but a different and unmistakable Need for Speed. And don't get me wrong, all the past chapters are beautiful, but we wanted to create something that wasn't just beautiful. Unbound stood out, embracing street art in the broadest sense ".

The artistic choice was not only influenced by the team's need to create a visual breaking point, but also by the desire to bring that freedom and creativity typical of street art in the customization part of the car. All the body kits of the cars, the developer confirms, are real pieces and recreated in game as per the manufacturer's catalog: "We have many additional parts for the cars, the result of various partnerships with parts and spare parts manufacturers. These collaborations allow us to recreate objects in as much detail as possible, because we really want there to be realism in the game. If a player wants to buy a replacement for his car identical to the one fitted to his car in the game, he could do so. The creativity lies in the way all this is assembled ". The inspiration for all this is therefore street art, both visually and for the freedom with which it is created: the heart of Unbound is the road and everything that happens on its asphalt.

A $ AP Rocky is the voice of Need for Speed ​​Unbound Part of what is born, and was born, from the street is also the music. And as the automotive world has changed, so has the music world. But if there is one thing that a car game in general cannot go wrong with is the soundtrack. And if you've played the Need for Speed ​​chapters mentioned at the beginning of the article, you can't help but remember the openings, with Get low by Lil Jon and the remix of Snoop Dog from Riders of the Storm for the sequel. For Unbound, Criterion turned to A $ AP Rocky, famous rapper and companion of Rihanna.

A choice that we marry and that we also wanted to explore with Crimmins. "That with A $ AP was a perfect collaboration for us because we love his being a trend setter, not only in music but also in fashion and culture. Collaborating with him was a kind of perfect meeting, because the inspiration that he lives in the musical and artistic field is what we need. And it's absolutely true: the soundtrack of a Need for Speed ​​must be absolutely avant-garde. That's why we collaborated with him to release one of his original songs together , You and Me, which is the one featured in the reveal trailer and of course also in the game. He and his staff have helped us create an absolutely amazing playlist that I believe people will love for a long time.

We have said goodbye Crimmins very satisfied and full of hope for this Need for Speed: Unbound, because on paper everything is in its place.

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