Need For Speed Carbon Xbox 360 Review

The Need for Speed series has been around since just after the dawn of time, or so it seems, and yet again brings another high quality game, Carbon (so named as it has an area named Carbon Canyon, not due to carbon body kits). There’s always been something that gives the Need for Speed games the trend of not disappointing me. This instalment sees you return to the city from Need for Speed Underground 2 and follows on from Need for Speed Most Wanted with Cross (the cop from NFS Most Wanted) hot on your trail.

Soon you find yourself without your pimped to the max car and being given a new low level ride (hmmmm, hasn’t that started to become a little clich├ęd in NFS?) Now’s the time to choose your ride; will you drive Muscles, Tuners, Exotics? Each car class has its own style and advantages. Once you’ve picked your ride you race to unlock new gear, get cash and take control of parts of the city. Yes, that’s right; in Carbon you actually control turf and have to take it from rival crews. You yourself will eventually control a crew who join you in races (one at a time), offering you help in one of 3 ways; there are “Blockers” who will ram other cars to slow them down when you tell them, “Drafters” allow you to gain speed in their stream and then catapult yourself out at high speed, and thirdly “Scouts” map out the shortcuts! Both Drafters and Blockers only have a limited use, however.

Boss races are now a three stage affair that comprise of one normal race and a two part downhill race in Carbon Canyon, where you firstly pursue the boss as closely as possible to gain points and then switch rolls as he has to stay as close as possible to reduce the points you gained in part one. Those of you who have played the other recent chapters could either be impressed or disappointed (I think it’s ok my other half doesn’t like it). Drags have been dropped and drifts are back with a few minor changes and a whole new feel to the drift physics, which makes drifting more fun. Apart from the changes mentioned such as crew, boss races and no more drag, the racing style has not changed, and we see more ok acting in the FMVs. My one major disappointment is the music tracks that have been selected and the fact that tracks are related to car type. There’s a challenge section to the game which gets unlocked through playing the career mode, which is playable when not in career, that then unlocks new parts and cars and other bonuses in career (sounds like a lot of going in and out of career doesn’t it?), and the game expands with online play to add some online exclusive modes like pursuit, in which the players who are losing the race turn into cops and have to slow down the other players to gain “cop points”.

Need for Speed Carbon isn’t that different when compared to Underground or Most Wanted. It draws the two games’ elements together whilst adding only a few new features. The graphical improvements are minor but welcome, such as the improved speed blurring which is now less of a ‘whole screen going fuzzy when driving fast’ and more of a defined speed blur. The musical tracks don’t live up to the same standard as the other games in the series as they’re quite easily forgettable, but on the upside there has been major improvements to the sounds of the engines and the other racing sound effects. Likewise, the addition of crew members talking to you during the race can be both helpful and informative, but also annoying after a while. Another plus point is that police also make a ping sound and show up on your mini map, stopping them from sneaking up on you as easily as in Most Wanted.

The ‘auto sculpt’ feature is fun for anyone who likes to pimp their ride, giving you much more control over the looks of your aftermarket body parts. It allows you to modify the look of your custom parts using a slider system to tweak your chosen bodykit and car components, and the vinyls are now far more customisable, with both size and location able to be changed as well as being able to modify the layers, allowing you to re-order them whenever you like. Once your machine is pimped into an evil looking race demon you can go online and race or just show off your modding skills; the Xbox 360 handily allows you to pause the game at any time to take a picture of your car and then post it on the live service so everyone can drool at your uber pimping skills.

This isn’t a long game, and can be completed in around 10 hours, but I’d recommend that you don’t rush it; unlock everything, play with all the cars and don’t forget to have fun in the random “boy racer” encounters that boost your cash. Money is harder to scrape together if you plan on collecting a lot of cars, as after the first time you compete in a race you can only earn 10% of the cash in each subsequent race, and an over-eagerness to visually upgrade your cash will impact your parts upgrades due to a lack of funds.

I would class this game as a must play, and if you haven’t already played Need for Speed Underground 2 and Most Wanted then give them a try; Underground 1 isn’t quite up to the same level and you aren’t missing much by skipping it. This isn’t a difficult game by any means, but it is good fun. The storyline is predictable, the FMVs can be annoying after a while, the new content is limited and the game could have been longer, but the good points of having a crew, the continuation of the quality of gameplay and the improved graphics and physics make it a good game. This game is sure to please die hard fans and new players alike, but may be a disappointment to anyone who expects a completely new game or much of a change from previous ventures.

A must play but probably not a replay!

8 out of 10