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Need for Speed Carbon
(hx) 01:55 AM CET - Dec,11 2006

Need for Speed: Carbon is the latest installment in the Need for Speed series. Despite it using the same engine like the previous game, Need for Speed: Carbon has a very different look from Need for Speed: Most Wanted, which took place in a nicely varied city. Now, Need for Speed: Carbon takes the action to the canyons; as the game's motto declares "What starts in the city, ends in the canyon!" To be more exact, the game takes place during a perpetual night in a city divided into territories controlled by rival gangs driving candy-colored cars. Win enough matches in a zone (two to be exact), and your team can claim the region. Win enough regions and the territory is yours for the taking...

The majority of your time you will spend in the game's career mode. You'll begin by choosing a starter car, from one of three classes. Each car class has its own properties - Tuner Cars (their strongest point is handling - most cars are from Japanese companies), Muscle Cars (their strongest point is acceleration - most cars are from American companies) and Exotic Cars (balanced in handling, acceleration and top speed. - most cars are from European companies). The class you select determines what goodies you earn for winning races in career mode. This provides some incentive to play through career mode multiple times

There are more than 50 licensed and fully customizable cars available to race. In the game you'll find: 2006 Alfa Romeo Brera, 2004 Aston Martin DB9, 2003 Audi Le Mans Quattro, 2003 BMW M3 GTR, 2006 Chevrolet Camaro Concept (CE edition only), 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS, 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS, 2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, 2006 Chrysler 300C SRT8, 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T (CE edition only), 2006 Dodge Challenger Concept, 1969 Dodge Charger R/T, 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8, 2006 Dodge Viper SRT-10 Coupe, 2005 Ford GT, 2006 Ford Mustang GT, 2003 Infiniti G35, 2007 Jaguar XK (CE edition only), 2006 Koenigsegg CCX (CE edition only), 2004 Lamborghini Gallardo, 2004 Lamborghini Murcielago, 2007 Lamborghini Murcielago LP640, 2001 Lexus IS300, 2004 Lotus Elise, 2006 Lotus Europa S, 2007 Mazda MAZDASPEED3, 1999 Mazda RX-7, 2003 Mazda RX-8, 2005 Mercedes-Benz CLK500, 2005 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG, 2004 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, 1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX, 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT, 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX MR Edition, 1992 Nissan 240SX (CE edition only), 2006 Nissan 350Z, 1999 Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R, 2006 Pagani Zonda F (CE edition only), 1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda, 1969 Plymouth Road Runner, 2006 Pontiac GTO, 2004 Porsche Carrera GT, 2006 Porsche Cayman S, 2007 Porsche 911 Turbo, 2006 Porsche 911 GT3 RS, 2005 Renault Clio V6, 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, 2007 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX STi, 1985 Toyota Corolla GT-S, 1993 Toyota MR2, 1998 Toyota Supra, 2005 Vauxhall Monaro VXR, 2006 Volkswagen Golf R32.

Once you chosen a car, the game introduce you to one of the new concepts in Carbon, that being team racing. Many races will let you take a wingman in with you. There are three classes for wingmen. Blockers will run interference for you, spinning out opponents at your command. Drafters will let you pull up behind them and sit in their slipstream for a while, giving you a boost of speed from the clean air. Finally, there are scouts. These guys point out shortcuts in the game world. They have bright neon trails behind their cars to make following them easier, this works well in the early going, but as the cars get faster, following a scout gets to be more difficult. Having a wingman helping you out seems like a good idea, they're handy to have, but sometimes you'll wish that they would just hang back instead of driving so aggressively.

The free-roam aspect allows you to drive around the city looking for races, finding challenges and provoking the cops. The cops in Carbon are more tenacious then ever. Pursuits are longer and far more difficult to end then in Most Wanted. It is a nice feature but can be frustrating when you are racing and the cops are trying to stop you. If you don't like cops, you can move from event to event through the game's world map, and avoid the cops almost entirely. The races themselves are your standard fare, consisting of the Sprint, Circuit and Drift matches, the latter of which has undergone a complete overhaul. Clearly, EA has been watching the last installment of The Fast and the Furious franchise, but unlike in the movie, drifting in Carbon is very difficult. Drift matches now require an incredible amount of skill to complete as your car slides around as if you're racing on a sheet of ice. In the Underground series you could at least control your drift to some degree, but in Carbon the slightest tilt of the stick results in your car sliding uncontrollably in all directions.

Finally, there're the Canyon Duels, the newest and biggest mode in Need for Speed Carbon. Based on points rather than finishing the race first, Canyon Duels pit two cars against each other in two stages, with one car chasing the other in the first, and then reversing it for the second. The player's car is in the "follow" position during the 1st stage and his goal is to stay as close as possible to the lead car without going over the edge of the cliff. The closer you are, the quicker you'll earn points. During the 2nd stage, the player's car is in the "lead" position and you are trying to get to the bottom of the run as fast as possible while putting as much distance as you can between you and your opponent. They really get the adrenaline pumping, and it's all too easy to crash through a barrier and into a +50 freefall :-D

There's also a plethora of cosmetic changes that can be made, simply to make your car look that bit different from everyone else on the street. Auto-sculpt is by far my favorite feature. It allows you to customize parts on your cars. Spoilers, bumpers, skirts, hoods, you name it, you can tweak them all using a series of sliders. Admittedly, the effect is purely visual. But hey, it's pretty cool! Besides, there are also a lots of bolt-on aftermarket parts that you can purchase for your car, so if you don't want to take the time to fiddle with sliders to make a part look just the way you want it, you can simply buy one pre-built.

One thing I found disappointing was the extremely short career mode. If you are familiar with previous Need For Speed games, you should get around career mode in about 8-10 hours. Once career mode is completed, the only thing left to do is complete challenges to unlock additional cars and parts for your cars. Challenges include completing races under a limit of time or engaging pursuits that last at least the target time provided.

Despite its flaws, Need for Speed Carbon is a good arcade racer with a lot of enjoyable moments to offer. It's not as good as Most Wanted or Porsche Unleashed but it's still one of series' highlights. If you're searching for a good racing game this is it.

related links: demo, patch v1.3, cheats, unlocker, savegame editor, trainer +3 (CE), trainer +16 (CE), trainer +17, NFSPlanet (unlockers, etc), Need for Speed Carbon DVD

Minimum system requirements: Windows 2000 SP4 / Windows XP SP2 (32-bit), CPU 1.7 GHz or better, 512 MB RAM, video card with 64 MB memory - NVIDIA GeForce3 / NVIDIA GeForce4 (Ti series only) / ATI Radeon 8500, DirectX 9.0c compatible Sound Card, 8x DVD drive (Europe) / CD drive (North America), free HDD space: 4.7 GB for CD/DVD versions / 11 GB for EA Downloader version (5GB for download, 6GB for install)

snd: 5/5 - well done, greatly altered engine effects, realistic cop radio chatter, solid soundtrack (typical EA sports/racing mix)
gfx: 4/5 - cars look amazing, pretty cutscenes mix in-game style graphics with live-action actors, slow motion replay of crashes, no damage model, all night maps, no replay
playability: 4/5 - still pretty good arcade racer, +50 cars (three distinctly different car classes), autosculpting, PhotoShoot mode, online multiplayer through EA (up to 8 players / 4 players co-op) - but No LAN option, very little true innovation, AI feels very basic, a few odd bugs
genre: arcade racing
platform: PC (also available on PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox, GameCube, DS, GBA, PSP)
release: November 2006
developer: EA Black Box
publisher: EA
Overall: 78%

last 10 comments:

xxxx(02:30 AM CET - Dec,11 2006 )
I like this one better than MW only cuz I can customize, but the lack of LAN play does suck. I believe it can't be done either without EA putting it in. Even more lame. Like every PC game nearly, this one is being exploited to hell online. People want more freedom running servers.

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