26 Nov, 2006

Need for Speed: Carbon Review

360 Review | Do you feel the need?
It's funny how things quickly change in gaming, the Need for Speed series used to stand for mediocrity. In the 90's EA would release a new Need for Speed title every year, without all that many changes. EA rested the series and a few years ago they resurrected the franchise with Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2. Ever since Hot Pursuit 2's success we've been given a yearly Need for Speed title, thankfully though the series no longer stands for mediocrity. This year EA have released Need for Speed: Carbon is it a fun game or is the series slipping into mediocrity once more?

When you first get into Carbon it feels near identical to Most Wanted except for the fact that you’re racing at night. Carbon is actually more of an extension upon Most Wanted than you think, the story mode in the game picks up directly where Most Wanted ended, your player (who was escaping Rockport at the end of Most Wanted) has arrived at Palmont City, when Cross, who is now a bounty hunter chases after you and tries to shift you off the road. Before Cross can take you in Darius comes in and saves you and once again you begin as a nobody and have to work your way up to own Palmont City.

What did you say about my mother?

What did you say about my mother?
In Carbon’s career mode, Palmont City is divided up into four regions which are each dominated by different crews. You’ll need to start from the beginning, winning races will acquire a certain part of the territory. Acquiring territory is as simple as winning each race event, you won’t need to win each event in a linear fashion though, so you get to pick and choose which races you take part in. A lot of the same race types have been recycled from Most Wanted including checkpoint, circuit and spring. If you take over enough territory then the crew boss will challenge you for the territory.

Boss races have two parts. First you’ll need to beat the boss in a basic event, all you’ll need to do is come first and in doing so you’ll be able to face off in one of the canyon courses. The canyon races have two parts, first you’ll need to chase the boss down the canyon and stay as close as possible, the second time around the boss will be chasing you down the canyon and you’ll need to try and stay as far away from the boss as possible. The game awards points for how close the cars get to each other. If you get ahead of the boss for more than ten seconds then you automatically win, however if the boss gets ahead of you for more than ten seconds then they’ll win. The canyon races are also quite dangerous, so if you fall off the cliff then the race ends automatically. The canyon races are really quite entertaining, although they’re definitely a challenge.

Need for Speed Carbon also lets you hire wingmen to help you out in a race. As you progress through the career mode you'll unlock wingmen which carry out different tasks for you, blockers will block the cars in front of you, scouts will hunt out the best shortcuts and drafters will let you slide behind them gaining slipstream. However, the crew members aren't particularly helpful, more often than not they'll get in your way during a race or they'll sit back for far too long so when you want them to block they're nowhere to be seen.

I'll take either.

I'll take either.
The car selection in the Need for Speed titles has always been very impressive and Carbon is no different. There are more than thirty licensed cars and they're divided up into three groups; tuners, muscles and exotics. All three groups feel uniquely different to each other. If you're after a new car then you may win the pink slip to a bosses car or you can go to the car dealer and purchase one with the money you've earnt from winning races in the career mode. Just purchasing a car is only the tip of the iceberg though, as Carbon features a large range of upgrades, some performance, some visual. Visual upgrades like decals, spoilers and body kits are all available for purchase and and performance upgrades gradually become unlocked as you progress through the career mode. The game also includes an autosculpt system. Using autosculpt allows you to modify your parts a lot more accurately, unless you're really dedicated you're more likely to just purchase a part and install it.

Outside of the career mode Carbon features online support through Xbox Live. The game supports up to eight players and includes a variety of race modes including pursuit tag and pursuit knockout. In pursuit tag there is one player who is against the police, the objective is to avoid all of the police cars for as long as you can, the player who avoids the police cars for the longest amount of time wins. In pursuit knockout the last person to finish in each lap becomes a cop car, when you're a cop car you can try and take out the rest of the other cars, which is surprisingly entertaining. You're even able to take your pimped out car online.

If you want a break from the career mode then there is the mandatory quick race option as well as a challenge series. The challenge series includes thirty six increasingly difficult races, these are tied into the achievements so you'll need to complete them if you want to get everything out of the game. Speaking of the achievements, they're scattered around quite well, but it takes a while before you get any achievements at all in career mode. You'll need to play online to get all 1000 points.

That's the money shot.

That's the money shot.
Graphically the game looks very impressive, the city is a great backdrop for the races and the cars look fantastic when they've been customised. Racing in the canyon races is impressive, because often you'll be taking in the background view, which can actually be hazardous to your driving. We did encounter a few frame rate issues occasionally when things began to become intense, but the frame rate issues don't happen often enough to be a major problem. The audio appears to have been recycled from Most Wanted, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The voice acting is okay, but the wingmen do become a little bit repetitive.

If you blitz through the career mode then the game can easily be completed in under ten hours, however if you take your time then you'll be able to play the career mode alone for at least fifteen hours. The challenge series lives up to it's name and it will take awhile to get through every race. The online play is extremely addictive, so there is plenty of content to keep you going.

Need for Speed Carbon isn't a massive improvement upon it's predecessor but it's still an enjoyable game. There are a few basic inclusions that don't fundamentally change the series all that much, the canyon races are a lot of fun but are ultimately a gimmick. Despite this, Need for Speed Carbon extends upon Most Wanted and provides more races and more challenges, any Need for Speed fan is sure to be pleased with the game.
The Score
The game hasn't changed that much, but it didn't really need to. Pure arcade fun. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Need for Speed: Carbon Content

More Need for Speed content released
08 Dec, 2006 This time with content exclusive to the Marketplace.
More Need for Speed Carbon downloads released
16 Nov, 2006 Though not for free.
More Need for Speed Carbon premium content released
08 Nov, 2006 Worse than a traffic fine.
7 years ago
It would be good if I couldn't get 350,000+ in one drift. I wish they made it harder and more canyon and drift races.
7 years ago
not really, i has fun with this for a couple of days then got bored. ill probably go back to it later.
7 years ago
Personally, I can't play racing games for overly long (1-2 days most). I find that when I just race over and over again, I soon lose interest because it's pretty much all the same. You drive around, enter races, win them, drive around, enter races...... I suppose it would be more entertaining online (if you verse noobs or newbies, it would probably turn into a dodgem car tournament). ;-D
7 years ago
Yeah I think you are about right with that review Luke. Need for Speed Carbon is a good addition to the franchise but it doesn't really bring anything different to the table. What you said at the end there about it not having to is spot on too, I think. Most Wanted really nailed EA's intentions for the franchise I think so Carbon following this same path is a good move on their behalf. It wasn't as good as Most Wanted but it was good and that's the main thing. icon_smile.gif
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