Need for Speed Carbon Review

Need for Speed Carbon continues the Need for Speed (NFS) series’ tried and true formula of combining high-speed arcade street racing with the story of a young up and coming driver racing his way to the top. Now a “tried and true formula” can mean that you get more of a good thing or that the series is stuck in a rut. Even though Need For Speed Carbon only adds a handful of innovations to the franchise, overall the game is of the “more of a good thing” variety. Now it’s up to you to decide whether or not that’s a good thing for you. Good thing you’ve got me to let you know what’s in store for you in Carbon…

NFS Carbon takes place in the fictional town Palmont City, which kind of looks like the city of Miami transplanted into the California foothills and given a Las Vegas makeover. There’s a lot of city here for you to explore, from canyon backroads and sleepy residential streets to downtown grids and super highways. Illegal street racing is big in Palmont City with everyone except the cops and minivan crowd, and the racers have aligned themselves into gangs and divided up the city in an ongoing turf war. To beat the game, become the top racer in town, learn the secrets of your past, vindicate yourself to your friends, earn the respect of your rivals, etc., you’ll need to takeover the entire city for your gang. Each territory features a few race events that you can enter. Win the majority of race events in a territory and it becomes yours. While you’re out racing for territory so will your rivals and it is quite probable that you’ll have to re-run some complete events to defend your territory. At times it can be annoying to be forced to re-run races that you’ve already beat, but at least the game doesn’t bog you down with constant territory defense.

Take all of the territory from a gang and you’ll face the gang’s leader in a final duel for victory. These are three part races that force you to win a regular race in the city and then travel to one of the canyons outside of town. There you’ll compete in two checkpoint races in which you must try to stay as close as possible to your rival followed by a race with the two of you switching roles. I found the leader races to be a little much and wish there weren’t so many hoops to jump through to win.

You can just hop in your car and drive around exploring the city, pull up your map and set your GPS to guide you to your next event, or simply jump to the next race. There is an advantage to taking the time to drive around the city and between the events, though. First, since the races take place on the streets of the city (hence the name street racing) it gives you a chance to scout out the courses and look for shortcuts. Second, it’s the only way to be challenged to random races by rivals and unlock some bonuses that can be used to upgrade your ride.

Once in a race you’ll be able to take advantage of one of Need For Speed Carbon’s new feature: wingmen. Wingmen provide support for you during races and come in one of three varieties: blockers, drafters, and scouts. Blockers will sacrifice themselves by crashing into one of your competitors when you order them to do so. Drafters provide draft for you to catch and use to slingshot yourself forward at high speed. Lastly, scouts will show you where all the shortcuts are for a race. Scouts are the least useful of the three as you’ll be able to spot a lot of the shortcuts yourself and you’ll often be moving to quickly to be able to make the cut to hit a shortcut by the time it’s pointed out to you. The drafters don’t help that much either as they essentially serve the role of a reserve of NOS and there simply aren’t enough straightaways to take advantage of the speed boosts. Blockers’ ability to take out your competition can prove useful in tight races, although they seem far better at taking out cars behind you then in front. Overall, the wingman concept is a nice idea; it’s just that it doesn’t add that much to the races here.


Also reviewed on:
  •  · PlayStation 3 
  •  · Wii