Need for Speed Carbon Review
Launch title games are a very mixed bag. Sometimes you have a game that clearly would not have been possible on the previous generation consoles, something like Call of Duty 2 for the 360. Then there are the games that seem to only show up as launch titles because they have built a following of loyal gamers and companies want to make sure they are represented ASAP on the new hardware; think of 80% of all launch games. With the release of EA's Need for Speed: Carbon as a launch title for the PlayStation 3 you must be wondering which category it falls into...read on to find out.
Actually, Need for Speed: Carbon falls into a third category of decent launch games with graphical improvements. There isn't a whole lot of new gameplay in Carbon that makes you think next-gen, but at the same time the game isn't a bust. It is, more or less, the same game you've played before on older consoles but with better looks.
I admit that I am a shallow dude and that this depthlessness wants to see lots of cool looking graphics on the new consoles. Like most people, I believe, it's the first thing that I notice about a game and I really want to see something special when it comes to the next-gen games. The problem here is somewhat my problem, somewhat Sony's. My part is that I have a TV (a Sony) that only displays HD signals of 1080i and 480p, not 720. Sony's problem is that they do not up-convert 720 signals to 1080 signals but instead down-convert them to a 480 signal, so all I'm left with is a rather PS2 looking game. So that unfortunately means that I can not make too many comments on the game's next-gen graphics. What I can do is say that I have played Carbon on the 360 and it does look great and I will assume that on a 720 TV the PS3 will look very similar.
The safest thing I can say about Carbon is that if you played and enjoyed the past Need for Speed games then by means go and pick up a copy. If you only kind of liked the past games and were hoping that there would be something new with the series when it made the jump to next-gen, well you will be disappointed especially if you were hoping to use Sony's new SIXAXIS controller to steer the cars. I thought it would have been a no-brainer to have used the motion sensing abilities of the controller to steer, but I guess EA just didn't see it that way. Instead what you get is a very lame attempt to use the controller. Here's the deal, you use the regular analog stick to drive the car, which do respond well, and when you are in a very sharp turn you can tilt the controller turn the car a bit sharper. It's like taking the turn to 11 instead of 10, and while this might make Spinal Tap happy I found it rather stupid. Might as well have mapped one of the buttons to this ability. But other than that the controls handle fine, just like that have in the previous PS2 games.
Carbon has a story mode that takes a page out of the GTA games. Basically you try to take over the city one section at a time. The city is divided into three areas and depending on what type of car you initially start off with (muscle, exotics, or tuners) determines where you start in the city (Kempton, Fortuna, or Downtown). Your goal is to take over each area of town by winning races until you meet the boss of the area. The race against the boss is a new race called a Canyon Race and this is a nice variation from the city races. A Canyon Race is you and the boss racing down a windy mountain where the race is over if you happen to go off the edge. After a ton of city races it's nice to see a different type of road even if it is a little more intense. What hasn't changed is that everything happens at night including the Canyon Races. So be prepared to see a ton of neon and lots of shiny reflections off the cars.