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Need For Speed Carbon PC DVD-ROM & PlayStation 2

Published by Electronic Arts
Developed by Electronic Arts
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £34.99 (PC) £39.99 (PS2)

The Need For Speed series has taken many forms over the years. We’ve had the Hot Pursuit games and the Underground titles and several others in between. Each version of the game has had its own characteristics that have helped to make each version something different. Need For Speed Carbon is no different in this respect and whilst the game has some similarities to previous versions it also has a few original twists of its own that help to make it feel slightly different from any previous version in the series. This year we’ve been able to look at both the PC and PlayStation 2 versions of the game.

The game is set in Palmont City and the idea of NFS Carbon is to conquer each of the different territories that make up Palmont City. You’ll take territories by claiming the blocks in those territories. This is done by winning the race events in those blocks. You’ll begin your career by choosing one of three different cars. There are three different car classes in NFS Carbon. There are Tuner, Exotic and Muscle cars to choose from and they all have their own pros and cons. There are quite a few events to take part in such as checkpoint races, circuit races, drift races etc. There are also a few where the police are involved, arguably there aren’t enough of them, such as pursuit evasion and trade paint events. Of course you’ll have bosses to deal with too and they can be tricky. You can choose to go straight to the events or simply free roam Palmont City. Naturally you can modify your car too. Outside of the Career mode there is also a  Quick Race mode, a Quick Match mode, a Challenge series mode, a Custom Match mode and of course an Online mode which allows you to gain XP and level up. Levelling up allows you to access exclusive cars and additional customisation options.

The main difference between NFS Carbon and other NFS titles is you have your own crew and can employ them as wingmen during races. You can have three crew members at any one time and each comes with race and career bonuses. Neville for instance will earn you extra cash from each race. Each crew member also has specific roles to play when used as a wingman. There are three wingman roles to play as. The types of wingman are drifter, scout and blocker. Blockers get in the way of other drivers, drafters allow you to enter their slipstream allowing you to benefit from the reduced drag and scouts highlight shortcuts to allow you to complete races in the quickest time possible. The use of these wingmen is limited though. They can be useful at times, especially the blockers, but most of the time you can get along fine without them.

Graphically neither the PC version nor the PlayStation 2 version looks that great. Naturally the PC version looks better when played at the highest graphical settings but in truth it could have looked better. Some details on the PlayStation 2 version such as the road textures look extremely basic. To make matters worse the frame rate isn’t that great on the PlayStation 2 version and even on a decent PC the frame rate tends to fluctuate somewhat although it never seems to drop as low as it does on the PlayStation 2 version at times. Naturally the load times are quicker on the PC version but they certainly aren’t bad on the PlayStation 2 version.

Support for deaf gamers in NFS Carbon is pretty poor. The game begins with the usual supermodel delivered disclaimer, about the need to drive safely in real life, which isn’t subtitled. The introductory cutscene also isn’t subtitled. In fact none of the game’s cutscenes are subtitled meaning you’ll miss out on the game’s story which to some extent is disappointing although in truth you don’t play the NFS games for their rich storyline. Comments from various characters during the races are not subtitled. The tutorial you’re given from Nikki about using your wingmen is not subtitled although you do receive brief text messages that sort of get the point across. On the positive side you’ll receive text messages from time to time that explain what needs to be done and any important communications you receive are shown in text too. In short the game’s rather disappointing in its support for deaf gamers.

Need For Speed Carbon is another good addition to the series. To a certain degree, probably because of all the night time races, it feels more like a follow up to one of the NFS Underground games than a sequel to NFS Most Wanted.  On the whole the game doesn’t feel significantly different from other recent titles in the series. The wingmen are certainly something different but it’s a feature that will probably fall by the wayside for future instalments. It’s a shame both the PC and PlayStation 2 versions have frame rate problems. Although it’s a problem that’s bearable in both versions it’s a shame it couldn’t have been sorted out. Likewise it’s a shame that subtitles couldn’t have been added to allow deaf gamers to have enjoyed the story. Disappointingly these were also problems with last year’s NFS Most Wanted.

Overall Game Rating 7.4/10

Deaf Gamers Classification

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NFS Carbon is a game that will please fans of the last few games in the series. It does a few things differently but it will certainly seem a similar experience if you've played NFS Most Wanted or any of the NFS Underground games. The game really needs to be subtitled though.