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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Game Review 18:Need for Speed Carbon (Collector's Edition)

EA’s long running series, Need for Speed, returns this year on all major platforms, this time being Need for Speed Carbon. Need for Speed Carbon has made some changes to the previous game in the series, Need for Speed Most Wanted, some bad, some good. We will discuss about the good points first. The first change you will notice upon starting to play Need for Speed Carbon is that it has vastly improved graphics. It is visually stunning, cars are highly detailed, texts are clearer, and the overall image polished and more pleasant to the eyes. The second change you will notice are the icons representing race events on your minimap. They are now represented by stars of various colors. Thirdly, all the races take place in the night. Of course, the previous two changes do little to affect gameplay. The major ones include extra car classes, the ability to hire crew, the storyline, and the gameplay. Need for Speed Carbon allows you to choose from 3 car classes: Muscle, Exotic and Tuner. Each class of cars has its own strengths and weaknesses, so you will have to buy wisely. Need for Speed Carbon also introduces one new gameplay element: Crew, which will aid you in winning races. As you progress further into the game, more racers will offer to join your crew. There are many types of crew members: Drafters, blockers, scouts and so on. Each of your crew member is unique, some offering discounts on car parts, while others give you more points when you win. This is a nice addition, by the fact that your crew member (only one can be in the race with you) helps you all the time. Be it offering encouraging words when you are lagging behind, or helping you boost your speed, or helping you knock opponents’ cars away, and at times, your crew member will help you win the race as well. It takes either you or your appointed crew member coming in first place in a race to win it. In other words, even if you are in last place, and that your crew member takes the number 1 position, you win the race as well. Needless to say, the storyline varies from the one in Need for Speed Most Wanted. In Need for Speed Most Wanted, the game requires you to climb up the blacklist and there are a total of 16 levels and 15 bosses. Not so in Need for Speed Carbon. The game involves you conquering territories from rivals. You do this by beating bosses of each territory (there are a total of 4). Good news! Because Need of Speed Carbon does away with the irritating bounty system (a system where you gather points by evading the police and winning races). Instead, each territory is divided into 4 to 5 parts, with each area containing 3 to 4 racing events. Win 2 of these events and that particular area is yours. Once you have conquered all the areas, the boss will challenge you. In a way, it makes the game simpler. Need for Speed Carbon also places less focus on cop chases. Yep, you will not be seeing the cops often. In Need for Speed Most Wanted, cop chases were necessary to gather bounty, but all is different in this game now (although Sergeant Cross still has a place in the storyline). And even if you are being chased by cops, your crew member will divert their attention to themselves, so you have a greater chance to evading the cops. Wait, there is one last major addition. 2 new race events are available: Drift racing and canyon racing. Drift racing is kind of lame, and it is difficult to win too. Canyon racing is included in each boss battle and can be quite challenging as well. Nevertheless, you should have no problems winning the canyon races. In the first lap, you stay behind your opponent’s car and keep as close to them as possible to earn points. Overtake them and hold it there for 10 seconds and you will win. In the second lap, the opponent’s car will follow behind and you will have to make sure that you are far in front of the opponent to chalk up maximum points. The idea is original, innovative and most important of all, enjoyable.

Now, for the bad points. As I emphasized earlier, cop chases are rare and the bounty system are gone. This takes the flavor out of the game, a flavor present in Need for Speed Most Wanted. It makes the game so much easier. For hardcore gamers looking for challenging (or hard) games, nope, Need for Speed Carbon is not going to be much of a challenge to you. Let’s put it in this way: It is easy and you will find yourself conquering areas quickly. There are fewer areas to travel through as well (or at least I feel). The place feels small, and I feel that Need for Speed Most Wanted is better in terms of offering content. Yep, content – single-player content, to be exact. Need for Speed Carbon is lacking in this aspect, with the multiplayer saving Need for Speed Carbon from getting an average score. There is a new mode. The last person to reach the finish line becomes the cop. Kind of like a cat and mouse game.

Overall, Need for Speed Carbon looks ‘hipper’ and ‘cooler’ with the music and the introductory cut scenes introducing each new crew member. It has got that ‘baby-ish’ sound when playing the clip and I feel that it is hilarious. Look (or hear) out for that. However, if you are looking for the Need for Speed Most Wanted experience with all those Hollywood-like cop chases, Need for Speed Carbon isn’t it. Move on. Even the destructible objects and cooldown places have been reduced. Need for Speed Carbon is not about cops; it is about taking territories and engaging your crew for some aid. Yes, Need for Speed Carbon retains the intriguing storyline, which I cannot find in any other racing game. Racing games do not need storylines, but Need for Speed Most Wanted and Need for Speed Carbon (the only 2 Need for Speed games I have played) have them, which is a bonus, and also the reason why I gave Need for Speed Most Wanted a 9.8 score. It is special. The Collector’s Edition comes with an extra DVD, featuring behind the scenes and all those stuff.

Overall score: 9.6/10

Good points: No bounty system, less repetitive than Need for Speed Most Wanted, music is hip and cool, stunning graphics, new race events, and new multiplayer race mode
Bad points: Too easy, and lesser content than Need for Speed Most Wanted


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