Need For Speed Carbon is the tenth game in the hugely popular Need For Speed franchise. It came out in 2006 for PS2, PC, Xbox, GameCube, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii and DS. It was released by Electronic Arts and developed by EA BlackBox. I got this game when I was in 4th grade and I had no idea it existed. Since then I’ve played it multiple times on both PC and PS2 but never actually finished it, just recently I finally managed to beat the PS2 version. How is the game like? Is it as good as the older games? Let’s find out.
The story picks up what’s left from NFS Most Wanted. You are the Most Wanted driver who successfully escaped Rockport and now you’re entering Palmont City, a place where you’ve been before. You remember what happened. It was a huge race against Kenji (played by Ken Kirby), Wolf (played by Shaw Madson) and Angie (played by Danielle Kremeniuk), leaders of the 3 later main crews in the city – Bushido, T.F.K. and 21st Street. Your then-girlfriend Nikki (played by Emmanuelle Vaugier) was there, holding a bag full of money. You were racing for Darius (played by Tahmoh Penikett), who lend you his Toyota Supra. Everything went smoothly, until cops attacked the other 3 racers with EMP. Cops were everywhere and they started arresting everyone. Nikki couldn’t make it to your car, which was completely ignored by the cops, so she threw the bag into your Supra. You managed to escape the havoc by using the back alley and you looked into the bag. Instead of money, there were just newspaper scraps. Something wasn’t right. Where was the money? Darius then advised you to get out of the city. After Underground, Underground 2 and Most Wanted, you tried entering Palmont yet again, but guess who’s back? Your old enemy, Sergeant Nathan Cross (played by Dean McKenzie). Because he failed to arrest you back in Rockport, he got fired from Rockport PD and now he’s a bounty hunter. When you were trying to escape him, you didn’t notice the canyon was under construction and you totaled your BMW M3 GTR. Cross almost got you, but Darius came to the “rescue” and paid Cross your bounty. Then Nikki arrives in her Ford GT and she’s incredibly angry at you after what happened at that race. Darius asks her to help you form a crew and take over some territories of Palmont. You then get to select your first car, you get your first crew members Neville (played by Chris Gauthier), Sal (played by Elias Toufexis) and depending on your car, you get to conquer your first territory of Palmont. The story is actually well told, it keeps you guessing what actually happened during that race. The cutscenes are really well done and well acted, with the actors placed in the virtual world of Palmont, just like Most Wanted. And in-game, all bosses and Neville are motion captured, which still looks good even today.
SPOILERS FROM NOW ON
After defeating a boss and conquering their territory, one of their crew members can join your crew. They also tell you the details about what happened at that race. Yumi (played by Melody) overheard the police, who were told to not hit your Supra, Colin (played by Steve Lawlor) saw Nikki get knocked down and her bag changed and Samson (played by Noah Danby) saw a Chrysler 300C blocking the alley you escaped in. Darius then wants you to meet him by the old courthouse to celebrate your victory, well, in reality, he betrayed you and turned you to Cross. In the nick of time, Nikki saves you and joins your crew to also get revenge on Darius for lying to her and manipulating the race. Kenji, Angie and Wolf then join Darius‘ crew, Stacked Deck. After conquering Silverton, the last district of Palmont and defeating them yet again, it’s just you versus Darius. You defeat him and with the words „Enjoy it while it lasts,“ he leaves Palmont, you and Nikki alone.
It’s not a racing game without them. Some of the cars came back from Most Wanted. Carbon has all kinds of cars divided to 3 tiers – from old classic muscle cars like Camaro SS or Shelby GT500, to JDM tuners like Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 and Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX, to aggressive looking exotics like Lamborghini Murcielago or Aston Martin DB9. The car list is PERFECT and all of the models are very detailed for a 2006 game. The number of cars is pretty much even for every car class. It’s truly for everyone , each and every car handles differently. Exotics have the best top speed and average handling, muscle cars excel at acceleration but are heavy and have the worst handling, and tuners are light, handle like a charm and accelerate pretty well, so there’s a best car class for everyone and for every race type. Plus, you can unlock even more cars for Quick Race through Reward Cards. We’ll get to that later. For now, let’s take a look into…
Carbon’s customization is really great. In fact, a lot of it also came back from Most Wanted. You can select your performance parts from 3 packages – Street, Pro and Race. No individual parts like in Underground 2, but speaking of, you can tune your performance parts yet again. What’s that? Does your car oversteer or understeer? You want more acceleration or top speed? You got it. Visually, you can customize you car either with aftermarker parts (bodykits, hoods, roof scoops, spoilers and real life rims, like in MW) or with Autosculpt, which are bumpers, side skirts, wheels, hoods, roof scoops, spoilers and exhaust tips (if you have a muscle car, you can also change the height of your roof), that you can actually resize to your liking, meaning you can create your own parts. On top of that, you can combine both types of customization. No neons this time, unfortunately. For the first time in the series, a vinyl editor was added, so you can actually make your own car. And of course, you can change the car color, rim color, window tint and ride height.
As mentioned before, NFS Carbon takes place in Palmont City, which is divided into four districts – Kempton, controlled by 21st Street, is a muscle car area located on the south- it has a lot of straight roads to test your car’s top speed and acceleration. Downtown, Bushido‘s territory, has the role of „chinatown“. It’s located on the east and has a lot of tight corners – perfect for tuners. Fortuna is on the west, it’s a coastal area with wide corners and winding roads for exotics and it’s owned by T.F.K. And lastly, we have Silverton on the north, a casino area which combines all of the road types mentioned above. Darius is the boss of this district. There is also a small district which is separated from the city called San Juan, where Nikki and Neville will show you the basics of the gameplay. Overall, the city feels alive, despite the lack of pedestrians. It’s bright, detailed, colorful and all of the driving takes place at night. Oh, and I can’t forget the thing Carbon is famous for, the canyons. Palmont is in the middle of 3 canyons – Carbon, East and West canyons to be exact, with tight corners and breakable barriers, from where you can actually fall off. San Juan and canyons aren’t normally available in free roam, only in races, but with a use of a out of level glitch you can free roam on these areas.
There are 7 event types. Circuits, which are enclosed routes with two or more laps, sprints, races from point A to point B, checkpoints, where it’s just you versus the clock and you get bonus time when passing through a checkpoint, speedtraps are like sprints, but there are speed cameras on certain areas, so you must score the highest combined speed to win, and drifts, where you must achieve the highest amount of points by, you guessed it, drifting either on a drift track or in a canyon. In circuits, sprints and speedtraps, there is now a crew member who races with you. There are 3 types of skills for the wingmen (and winggirls) – blocker, who will attack an opponent marked with a target symbol, drafters, who give you a speedboost if drafted, and scouts, who will search for shortcuts. All of these are really useful, especially when you race in a Speedtrap event, then a drafter or a scout can come in handy, because drafters give you the mentioned speedboost and scouts are always faster than you (cause rubberbanding, yo!) As for the canyons, you can either do a Canyon Sprint, Canyon Drift as I mentioned, or a Canyon Duel, which was inspired by touge races. It has two stages. In the first one, you’ll be chasing the opponent , the closer you get to him, the more points you get and when you collide with him, you’ll lose 5000 points. Second stage consists of the opponent chasing you. The closer he gets to you, the more points you lose. If he crashes you, 5000 points will be added. If you pass him and hold the lead for 10 seconds in the first stage, you‘ll win and the second stage will be skipped. If he passes you or you fall behind, you have 10 seconds to get back into the race. Fall off a cliff and the race is instantly over. Bosses will challenge you for a Circuit race and a Canyon Duel. If you defeat them, you can choose 2 bonus markers, just like in Most Wanted. You can get a get out of jail token, an extra impound strike, a cash bonus, unique visual upgrade or the pink slip for the boss‘ car. As for the cops, there are also back from Most Wanted, along with pursuit breakers, which you can crash into to destroy cops or stop racers for a while. There are 5 heat levels, 1 has basic Civic Cruisers, 2 has Undercover Civic Cruisers and roadblocks, 3 has Pontiac GTOs + light Rhino SUVs, 4 has Undercover GTOs, heavy Rhinos and spike strips and 5 has Federal Corvettes and Cross. When you get busted, you’ll pay the fine and an impound strike will be added onto your car. Get 3 of these and you can’t use your car ever again. If you use a get out of jail token, it will be like the chase has never happened and only affect your pursuit stats. When you are close to evading them, you’ll enter cooldown mode. Find a hiding spot, it will fill faster and you will successfully evade the police. In free roam, you can be challenged to a short sprint race by other crews, these have 1000 prize cash for winning. Only two racing options remaining outside the Career. Challenge Series are made of various event types with bronze (easy), sliver (medium) and gold (hard) difficulty settings. If completed, a bonus visual part (or car in Collector’s Edition) is unlocked for you. And lastly, we have the reward cards, which act like achievements. Each card consists of 4 tasks and again when completed, a bonus visual part or a special car is added to Quick Race, these cars cannot be tuned or customized.
Aaand the soundtrack. Every car class has its own. Exotics have hip hop, tuners have electro music and muscles have rock, but luckily, there’s an option to have all the genres playing regardless of which type of car are you driving. The menu music was composed by Ekstrak, again with every car class having its own menu theme. You can hear the licensed songs only in checkpoint races and free roam, on races, however, a score composed by Trevor Morris can be heard, giving the races a thrilling atmosphere. I think it’s a tradition that no matter how good or bad a NFS game is, there’s always an awesome soundtrack guaranteed. The car sounds are reused, I don‘t see a problem with that. Who can be bored of the sweet Viper purring, or the classic 350z noise?
What happens when you mix the best from Underground 2 and Most Wanted? This game. It’s just awesome, from the car list, to the soundtrack, to the races… I definitely recommend picking this one up. The only downsides are the police chases, they are useless unless you want some more fun or you want to complete the Reward Cards, and the Career is very short, you can complete it in 2 hours at minimum. Not to mention that there was going to be much more content, just watch any “NFS Carbon beta” videos in YouTube. Nevertheless, you SHOULD play this game.
I give Need For Speed Carbon a 8/10.
That’s it for this game, I hope you enjoyed reading this review as much as I enjoyed writing it. What do you think about Carbon? Let me know :) I’ll see you with a review of another classic game, Juiced.