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X360: Need for Speed: Carbon
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by Rob Williams on November 9, 2006 in Gaming

One of the most popular racing franchises is back with their thirteenth installment. The game takes the best of “Underground” and “Most Wanted” to deliver an exhilarating experience.

Xbox 360 Specifics, Conclusion



Xbox 360 specifics include gamerpoints, of course. If you recall Most Wanted, you will know that all of the goals had to do with simply beating the game, potentially making it very easy to earn all 1,000. This has been changed in Carbon, and the difficulty to acquire all of them amped up. Once I beat the game, I only had unlocked around 100/1000 gamepoints.

The reason being, this game offers a lot more side-quest like gameplay that allows you to earn gamerpoints and reward cards. Yes, reward cards is yet another addition to the game, but it’s actually quite fun to take advantage of. Essentially, you will begin the game with 20 or so empty reward cards (alongside 10 online specifics), each being divided into four sections. Each of these sections contains a goal for you to accomplish. Simply put, if you complete all four of the goals on a given card, you will unlock whatever it is that card offers. Some are of course easier than others, and some are insanely difficult and will require a lot of skill.

I have to compare this game to Most Wanted in most respects, because I’m sure it’s built on the same engine. Given that though, the graphics are not as crisp as what MW offered. The road, car models and people all looked better in Most Wanted, but various other things have been improved. Character animations have been kicked up a notch, and is far more realistic than any previous game. I almost wonder if EA Blackbox is taking tips from EA Sports titles.

One thing that is rare to see in games, is character voices matching up perfectly with the face and mouth. Carbon improved a -lot- on this, but not with every character. The first crewmember you unlock, truly looks like he is speaking. It’s very lifelike. But, other characters you unlock later on don’t seem to be as impressive. Overall though, great showing from EA on the animation department.

Being a 360 title, it’s no surprise online play is offered here. You can play any of the modes online, with the addition of cops and robbers. This is pretty self explanatory. You are the cop and chase after a racer… and if you remain in his area for 10 seconds, the tables are turned and you are an escaping racer.

I didn’t get to try out the online play as much as I had wanted though, because most of the time I would be unable to find a game room, and when I did find one, it was unbelievably laggy. Others around the web have been reporting similar issues, so I am not alone there. Hopefully EA will fix whatever is lagging up the game, or release a patch to remedy it. Online play should easily be one of the biggest parts of this game, especially since the majority of the gamerpoints require you to play this way.

I have one last gripe about Carbon, and that’s the fact that rubberbanding is back. Rubberbanding is when the AI unfairly has the ability to catch up to you faster than you know is possible. For instance, in one race I managed to get 10 seconds ahead of the opponent, because I caused a wreck that slowed him down. Continuing down the track smoothly, taking shortcuts as I seen them, he caught up to me before the race ended and proved to be less than a second behind. If this happened only during one race I would assume it’s a player (me) issue, but I noticed it throughout every “important” race in the game. Most Wanted suffered from this problem, and clearly EA didn’t do much to ween it out.

I am not entirely bashing Carbon though. NFS is my favorite racing series and will likely be for quite some time. As a fan, minor things tend to annoy me, especially if I had hoped EA would rid the problem. All of that aside, Carbon is a racer you should own if you love the series, or are looking for a new racer to play. Though the Canyon races don’t add much to the game, the reward cards and challenge races really add to the replayability. Some of these challenges are not easy either, so you can expect to get many hours of gameplay here.

I am awarding NFS: Carbon an 81% and look forward to the next release.

    Pros

  • Carbon is more of what fans love… with some cool additions.
  • Lots of replay value. Prepare to sit for a while.
  • Reward cards and challenge races encourage you to stick around after you beat the career.
  • Car customization has been amped up, thanks to autosculpt.
    Cons

  • Graphics not as impressive as Most Wanted.
  • Some of the FMV acting is poor.
  • Rubberbanding!
  • Online play can be -very- laggy.

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1. Introduction
2. Xbox 360 Specifics, Conclusion