Each of the past few years we have seen EA continue with one of their extremely popular racing series, Need for Speed. EA has really managed to make this a real leading competitor in the art of video game street racing titles, and has really gained a following of gamers who have embraced the game and the genre as well. Now many years after EA’s first crack at it, we have their latest game from EA, which is Need for Speed Carbon for the Xbox 360. The big question is can EA continue to improve the series, and make Need For Speed Carbon another worthwhile purchase? Read our full review to find out!
Over the past few years we have seen the Need for Speed franchise really evolve over time from just a run of the mill racer to really one of the best open ended street racers on the market. Year after year, the developers have gone and really improved the series in numerous ways and really has kept gamers intrigued by their series. Now being that this is the second year of the Xbox 360 gamers is really expecting a true next generation racing experience. Can Carbon provide that experience?
The last few Need for Speed games have had some back-story, but like most things based off street racing really didn’t have a whole lot of depth behind it. In fact last year’s game (Most Wanted) was literally just a stripped down version of any Fast and the Furious movie, with little plot and little reason to care. EA has tried with Carbon to try and expand on the story with a lot more cut scenes with even more style then last year’s game. The game takes place in Carbon City (hint the name Carbon), which is a much more interesting city to drive in then last year’s Most Wanted game. The overall story in Carbon is extremely stylish, but still does get the basic idea fulfilled.
The career mode starts off, with of course you on the bottom and you are going to have to work your way up to the top to make yourself known in the world of street racing. The biggest addition to the career mode is the team based strategy that has been implemented with the new "crew" feature. Now what the crew does offer up is a much more strategic experience that gives you an extra pair of eyes to help you be successful in the race. Also the game has put a much heavier emphasis on drifting, something other racers have successful at doing and Carbon really nails a fine median between too much drifting and just the right amount.
The overall feel of the career mode is really what we have come to expect from the series, with very little left for surprises. The game is all about getting new cars and tricking them out something that has been improved a bit this year. There is this new auto sculpt feature that allows you to create your own spoiler to kind of customize it to your liking. The rest of the customization is pretty much like we have seen it in the past with some upgraded menu’s to help the process along.
There is an online experience on the 360 version, which is really a great experience one that has been a good extra mode to check out after the career mode. It is also a good way to show off all of your hard work offline. There is a good deal of modes to choose from and the gameplay online is good but not perfect. I did experience some problems with lag but nothing that was to detriment for the experience.
Overall Carbon is just a good solid sequel to last year’s game, although one thing many will say is that not a lot of changed. Sure the game takes place in a new city and there are some new strategic changes with the crew that does add some to the races, but overall the format of Need for Speed is still 100% intact in this game. Which means if you like previous Need For Speed titles, this game continues to impress.
Similar to what we saw in the gameplay department the visuals in Need for Speed are still very similar to what we saw in the first Need for Speed on the 360, which isn’t bad once again. The biggest change that I found with the visuals was the level of detail on the cars, which you can really see the developers went to great lengths to really beef up and make them the prime centerpiece. Carbon City is better than what we had in Most Wanted last year, but it still just didn’t feel like all that original of a place. The visuals hold up nicely and continue to shine well on the 360.
What you find with Need for Speed Carbon is a game that continues a franchise that has been extremely successful over the past couple of years. Once EA took over the franchise we have seen a large number of folks really jump on the bandwagon and enjoy a very open ended experience that made it extremely accessible to customize your ride. This continues in Carbon with the new crew feature that works nicely and a very smooth ride, online and off. This isn’t a brand new experience, but it is one that continues to impress and entertain for hours on end.
Need for Speed Carbon is not so much a carbon copy of last year’s game, it is more of just an upgraded version with a new city and some new features. Is this a bad thing? No, not at all as fans of the series really already know what they are getting into, and if you have like it in the past you will definitely continue to like it in Need for Speed Carbon.
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