Need For Speed: Carbon PlayStation 3
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Need For Speed: Carbon Product Details
Released on 23/03/2007
The battle for the city is won in the canyon as Need for Speed Carbon immerses you in the world's most dangerous and adrenaline-filled form of street racing.
For the first time in a Need for Speed game, build a crew and race in an all-out war for your city against rival crews and opposing car classes. You'll risk everything to take over rival neighborhoods one street at a time.
Each crew member has unique skills that you trigger during races to give you the winning edge over opponents. Call on a Blocker to create a distraction and slow down other racers or a Scout to lead you to shortcuts on the track.
As the police turn up the heat and force the races to the outskirts of the city, the battle ultimately shifts to Carbon Canyon, where territories and reputations can be lost on every perilous curve.
Use your creativity to design your crew's cars with the revolutionary new Autoscuplt™ car customization tool that gives you the power to turn every vehicle into the car you've always wanted. Represent your car class, your crew, and your streets in Need for Speed Carbon, the next revolution in racing games.
- Survive the Canyon: Leave the streets to battle rival bosses in the canyons outside the urban center. All-new Canyon Duel and Drift race modes are the ultimate test of skill and nerve, where one wrong turn could cost you more than the race.
- The City Is Yours for the Taking: Race for control of the city block-by-block by taking down rival crews on their turf, then defeat their crew leaders in life-or-death races in Carbon Canyon.
- Customize Your Dream Car: The revolutionary new Autosculpt™ car customization tool gives you the power to design and morph your car in every way imaginable.
- Represent a Class: Affiliate with the Tuner, American Muscle, or Exotic car classes and prove once and for all who makes the best set of wheels. A new physics model makes each car handle and drive differently.
- Build Your Crew: Strategically choose your crew members and use their skills on the road and in your garage to help you win races and customize your cars. Designate any member of your crew as a wingman and trigger his special skill to knock out your rivals.
- Over 50 Real-World Licensed Cars [confirm # is accurate]: Every car is tuneable so you can customize their look and performance to suit your crew.
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EA's Need For Speed games are becoming something of a regular festive fixture on the gaming calendar these days, and with good reason. 2003's NFS Underground reinvented the formerly forgotten racing franchise as a speedy and slick production with a distinct Fast and the Furious look and feel, and it's direct successor, plus last year's NFS Most Wanted, extended the formula, nabbing their year's coveted Christmas number one spots in the process.
Carbon may have been held off the top spot this Christmas by FIFA 07, but otherwise picks up where Most Wanted left off. However, that's not to say there aren't also a few noticeable changes this time around. In an effort to keep things fresh, EA have toned down the police presence, introduced a new team dynamic, and revamped the way you progress through the game's 10 hour-long singleplayer story.
In Carbon, it's all about taking turf; this time in the new neon-soaked setting of Palmont City. Driven along by the series' now-renowned GCI cutscenes, your goal is to conquer the city's four territories, each of which are broken down into separate zones that play host to a set of races. By winning two races in each zone, you'll gain control over it, and enough controlled zones will see you taking on a final boss race for the entire territory.
Race types themselves may sound familiar, but have been given enough of an overhaul that they don't feel like plain repeats of last year's efforts. Sprint, Circuit and Drift matches return, but the latter of these is now especially tricky thanks to Carbon's floatier drift controls. There's also new speed trap races, where the winner is the driver with the highest running total speed from all traps. It's an enjoyable diversity; not entirely original, perhaps, but nonetheless stops Carbon from feeling overly familiar.
The crowning glory of these, however, is also the most infuriatingly difficult. After capturing enough zones, races atop the eponymous Carbon Canyon will see you battling the rival crew's boss for ultimate control of his turf. These aren't just straight-up races though; instead you'll go through two rounds, first having to stay as close to his car as you can, and then reversing the roles with you trying to get as far away from his as possible.
There's no small number of cars, with everything from Subaru Imprezas to Nissan Skylines, Porsches, Lamborghinis and some incredibly rare concept cars.
Making it all the more difficult is that bosses frequently have a superior car, carve a nigh-on faultless racing line, and the fact that going ten second behind them leads to an automatic fail – not to mention having the police on your tail, or driving off the cliff-face completely, which is all too easy to do on the twisting canyon roads. It really does require mastery of the game's many autos before you can hope to get anywhere – especially as they can come back later on and re-challenge for their turf, meaning you have to sit through the whole ordeal again.
Thankfully there's no small number of cars here for the choosing, with everything from Subaru Imprezas to Nissan Skylines, Porsches, Lamborghinis and some incredibly rare concept cars in there. Despite the comprehensive selection of licensed real-world vehicles, though, Carbon never errs on daunting for non-petrolheads. It does so by using that finest of arcade racing conventions; breaking it's cars down into classes. Here, Tuners favour handling, Muscle cars offer raw grunt but prove difficult to control, and Exotics offer a range that's somewhere in between the two, allowing drivers to tailor their racing styles and improve their skills by moving up through the car classes as they progress through the game.
That's not the only element of personalisation on offer here, however. Carbon's biggest new addition is Wingmen; members of your crew who accompany you on races and can be used to differing effect depending on the type you choose. Of these, Drifters prove the least accomplished. The idea is that, as they slide into corners, drifting into their slipstream gives you a speed boost – an idea borrowed, it seems, from Sonic Riders. Like Sega's game, however, it often doesn't work as it should, mostly thanks to those abovementioned imprecise drift mechanics and frequent slamming into track edges.
It falls to the other two Wingmen types, then, to redeem the idea; something which they do to limited degrees. While blockers prove useful earlier on, their A.I doesn't seem to keep up as you get better at the game, and you'll soon be speeding off ahead of them, leaving them blocking opponents behind you in rather unhelpful fashion. Scouts, meanwhile, do their job of scoping out shortcuts to good effect, but again as you improve with practice, you'll find yourself driving right behind them, giving you almost no time at all to react when they suddenly veer off into a side street. Overall, the Wingman element is a nice idea, albeit relatively under-developed – though we can see it making an improved comeback in the inevitable sequel.
Scintillatingly speedy and effortlessly stylish, Carbon does the Need for Speed series proud.
Something which EA have continued to improve with each Need For Speed title has been car customisation, and Carbon's offering in this area is impressive. Like the car classes, it's instantly accessible, with parts bought using cash earned from races, and cars themselves either bought or won from rival crew members. There are perhaps fewer parts all-told than Undreground 2, but the new Autosculpt option makes up for that, allowing you to warp and play with the aesthetics of your ride. It's admittedly superficial, but nonetheless fantastic fun to play with, and sits well in such a style-conscious game.
And Carbon, like its Need For Speed brothers before it, is definitely that. Indeed, this release feels especially optimised for high-performance hardware, so 360 and PC owners really do get the benefit of that extra grunt under the hood, with car models, reflections and lighting all looking decidedly stunning. Current console versions do their systems credit, but look dated by comparison to their more expensive counterparts, such is the obvious gap that's appearing between current and next-gen hardware.
That gap is something which extends to extra options, with PC and 360 boasting an enjoyable eight-player online mode, and Microsoft's hardware featuring its own 20 car Race Wars game mode. PS2 owners and co. meanwhile have to make do with a less well-done two player splitscreen multiplayer, and a slightly stuttering framerate. It's a tradeoff, but not a damning one.
In the end, Carbon feels every bit a Need For Speed game, which is both it's foremost failing and it's biggest strength. It's an incredibly familiar formula, but one that changes enough to avoid feeling derivative. The Wingmen feature may not entirely work, and the boss battles in particular can frustrate, but it's still hard not to enjoy this year's offering from the EA games garage. Scintillatingly speedy and effortlessly stylish, Carbon does the Need For Speed series proud.
- Speedy, stylish and accessible racing fun
- Autosculpt and car selection are both fantastic for car fans
- Existing Need For Speed fans will lap this up
- The new Wingmen function doesn't work all that well
- Incredibly frustrating boss battles and dodgy drift control
- Non-NFS players won't find much different to change their minds here
Review by: Mark Scott
Version Tested: Xbox 360
Review Published: 22.12.06
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