Need for Speed: Carbon Review

-Eric Lee Lewis

Let me preface this review by saying that I hate racing games. I’m not a particularly competitive gamer. Sure, like most gamers, I have played Call of Duty and gotten sucked in, but that is the extent of my competitive gaming habits. I guess the real question is, “Why would you play Need for Speed: Carbon, Eric?” Simply put: when it comes to racing games the Burnout and NFS series are the only ones I can stand.

Need for Speed: Carbon does have a story, though it is hard to take seriously. The live-action actors are quite obviously trying hard to seem professional, but come off laughable at best. Not only is the acting a downfall, the wardrobe designer should have been immediately fired. Our main antagonist is dressed in what looks like a horrible anime train conductor outfit. While it is different, this becomes bothersome when trying to take the story as seriously as it tries to take itself.

Need for Speed has never been what some racing games try to be: a simulation. If I wanted to drive in real-world manner, I would just get in my car and drive. Instead, Need for Speed: Carbon is an arcade racer with a boat-load of customization. Maybe “boat-load” is an understatement. Anything you see on your car can be customized. If I had the ability to capture footage from my console, I would proudly show off my Empty Wallet Gamer-inspired Nissan 350 Z.

While games like Gran Turismo are all about the driving simulation and gorgeous graphics, the NFS series is about good graphics that just blur as you race. Now that I think about it, the Need for Speed games may have started the speed-blur effect with the Underground games. While the blurs may inhibit you from checking out the scenery, it’s not so bad. The cities are bland and all blend together. It’s hard to tell one area from another, but as previously stated, this game isn’t about graphics, it is about fun and it provides about 8-10 hours of campaign mode fun.

The campaign of NFS: Carbon is a mixed bag of events. Events are done to take over territory from other racers. While I had only mentioned the train conductor inspired antagonist earlier, there are 3 others that are just used as stepping stones. The characters range from stereotypical Japanese racer to stereotypical tough girl racer to another forgettable mini-boss that I can’t remember at the moment. The events are as follows; Sprint, Circuit, Speed Trap, Checkpoint, Drift, and Canyon races. I enjoyed doing these different race types for the most part, but they did get repetitive after the first couple of times.

The sound design in Carbon is stupendous. Every car seems to sound different from the next and will change as you upgrade engines and transmissions. Not only do the cars sound good, when you crash into an object it sounds like what you would imagine hitting that object would sound like. The only real drawback to the sound is the music. The music has a small variety, but tends to repeat the same song over and over. Yeah, there’s the ability to turn off certain songs. though it will just repeat another song multiple times.

It seems to be a reoccurring trend in racing games to be repetitive and Need for Speed: Carbon is no exception. I know that there isn’t much more to do in a racing game besides race, but a little more diversity in the world design would have been nice. Though NFS:C does have a lot of entertainment to present, the lack of variety does hold it back, if only a little.


Need For Speed Carbon Trailer

Are you a Need for Speed fan? How did you feel about Eric’s review?