Carbon is the tenth game in the Need for Speed series. It recieved less positive reception by its ancestor Need for Speed: Most Wanted.
Driving through East Canyon on a route to Palmont City, a flashback of what seems to be a race against Kenji, Angie, and Wolf comes to the player's mind. A police incident at the end of the race forces the player to make a hasty escape from Palmont. In present day, former Police Sergeant, now turned bounty hunter, Cross in his Chevrolet Corvette C6 chases the player down the canyon leading to his BMW M3 GTR being totaled. Shortly before Cross can arrest the player, Darius and his crew arrive. Darius gives Cross $150,000, and the player meets up with Nikki (Played by Emmanuelle Vaugier), an ex-girlfriend, on bad terms.
Darius tells the player with the help of Nikki to clean up his image by beating the rival racing crews to gain territory and to reclaim his reputation as a respected street racer in Palmont. Winning races one by one, the player acquires territories and ultimately districts from Kenji (Downtown), Angie (Kempton), and Wolf (Fortuna). After beating each racer, the player meets up with a former member of that racer's gang, who want to join the player's crew and reveal their observations regarding the night the player took off from Palmont.
Owning all three districts, Darius asks the player to meet up with him, where he reveals he was just using the player all along to get more territory. When Darius leaves, the player, on the brink of being arrested by Cross, is saved by Nikki who tells him that she now realizes everything that happened months ago after piecing together her view of the night and the viewpoints of the other racers. Realizing that Darius was ultimately liable for the player's fall that fateful night, the Player attempts to conquer Silverton, and oust Darius and his Stacked Deck crew, to clean up the player's reputation once and for all.
Winning races against Stacked Deck, the player gets his chance to meet Darius in the canyon. But he tells the player that he will, again, have to beat the previous three bosses (Kenji, Angie, Wolf) in the canyons and cities to battle him. Beating them, the player ultimately races against Darius and defeats him. At the end of the game, Darius says "enjoy it while it lasts, there's always someone out there who's a little faster than you are, and sooner or later they're gonna catch up..."
The game is set in the fictional city of Palmont. There are three major canyons: East, West, and Carbon Canyons. A major coastal metropolis area covers the southwestern part of the city. There are also some major rivers and a lake near Carbon Canyon. The city is divided into four distinct boroughs at the beginning of the game, Kempton (South Side), Downtown, Fortuna (West Side/Suburban Palmont), and Silverton (Resort/Casino Area, North Side). One for each of the major crews. However, when you complete the career mode, Palmont is no longer divided, because all of the city is the player territory. There is a highway system that goes down the middle of the city around all of Palmont. The city is featured in the MMO (Masively Multiplayer Online) game NFS: W, along with Rockport of NFS: MW.
The gameplay is based upon rival street racing crews. Players run a crew and can hire specific street racers to be in their crew and the active friendly racer is known as a wingman. Each hirable street racer has two skills, one which is a racing skill (scout, blocker, and drafter) and a non-race skill (fixer, mechanic, and fabricator). Each skill has different properties from finding hidden alleys/back streets (shortcuts) to reducing police attention. Cars driven by the wingmen are also different; blockers drive muscles, drafters drive exotics and scouts drive tuners. In career mode, players have to race tracks and win to conquer territories and face off against bosses to conquer districts.
Unlike Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Underground, Carbon had no drag racing. However, Carbon features the return of drift racing, a mode that had been included in two previous installments Need For Speed: Underground and Underground 2, but omitted from Carbon's predecessor, Most Wanted; and new style of event, Canyon Event, based on Japanese Touge races. There are four types of Canyon Events: Canyon Duel, Canyon Race, Canyon Checkpoint and Canyon Drift. A special point to note is that Lap Knockout race events are omitted, compared to previous installments.
Players can upload in-game screenshots to the Need for Speed website, complete with stats and modifications. NFS Carbon was the first NFS game to feature online exclusive game modes. The Pursuit Knockout and Pursuit Tag game modes are modes that allow the player to play as either a racer or a cop. Pursuit Knockout is essentially a lap knockout with a twist. The racers that are knocked out of the race come back as cops and it’s their job to try to stop the other racers from finishing the race through any means necessary. The player that finishes the race wins. Pursuit Tag begins with one player as a racer and the rest of the players as cops. It is the cops job to arrest the racer. The cop that makes the arrest then turns into a racer and has to try to avoid the cops. The player who spends the most time as a racer wins.
Control of the actual game play varies on among the different consoles. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 control steering through the use of their joysticks, while acceleration and braking as well as other controls can be configured and mapped to the different buttons on the controllers. Playstation 3, the Driving Force GT and G27 racing wheels can be used, as this is the first Need For Speed to implement force-feedback and the 900 degree turning radius. On Windows, joysticks and wheel controllers are supported, as well as those that support force feedback. The Wii lacks online game play, but fully supports the use of the Wii Remote.
Carbon features a new car customization option called "Autosculpt", enabling players to utilize aftermarket car parts and shape/mould the parts to their liking. Players can also have multiple customed vinyls as well. Performance tuning has been redone so that players, as upgrades are purchased, can tune the car for a number of different properties, such as higher top speed or higher acceleration. Unlike Most Wanted, all of Carbon's performance tuning/enhancing and car customizing is done inside the safe house. Boss Race is accessible only through the game's Career Mode. Most of Carbon's focus lies through various canyon races, which the game's theme is based on. Players have to race against other racers, drift through canyons, or even face off against an opponent in a one-on-one competition known as a "Canyon Duel", borrowed from Japanese Touge races.
As with Most Wanted, cops are everywhere in Carbon. Police chases can break out at any time, including when in Free Roam mode, when racing, or just after a race is completed. Some races do not have a chance of a police pursuit, such as Canyon races, and Checkpoint races. As with Need for Speed: Most Wanted, there are 5 conditions. Players have to be careful to avoid getting pursued by state or federal authorities. The Collector's Edition features three additional heat levels. Although the pursuit system is similar to Most Wanted, this feature has been reprogrammed in Carbon to ensure that police were not too dominant in arrest tactics in high pursuit levels. Some of the police tactics (such as the spike strips) while at the same time to make pursuits much harder to escape once a pursuit initiates.
Players can choose from many licensed cars divided into three classes as follows: Tuners, muscle cars, and exotic cars. Each car has its own characteristic ranging from easy cornering to well-balanced road performance. Players must choose a class to start career mode on which the set of unlocks will be different. Players can also unlock cars that are reserved for quick races as the players progress throughout the game and earn reward cards.
By default, hip hop/grime songs are played when the player is driving an exotic car, electronic songs are played when the player is driving a tuner car, and rock music is played when the player is driving a muscle car, though, this setting can be turned off. These songs were released by EA in very limited quantities on a special edition disc.
The songs played within the safe house and other game menus, as well as a small number of races were composed by Ekstrak, and was released widely by EA, and is available from online retailers such as iTunes, as well as hard copies.
Other music, most played in major races, such as Race Wars and Canyon Battles have been widely released akin to the Ekstrak release. This actual soundtrack consists of music composed by Trevor Morris, who has gone on to work with Steve Jablonsky for the 2007 EA RTS game, Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars.
Need for Speed: Carbon was first shown in EA's montage at Nintendo's E3 2006 conference and booth and was the cover story in the Game Informer magazine issue of July 2006. Carbon is the first in the Need for Speed series to be released for all seventh generation consoles. Carbon features some of cars of its predecessors; namely Need for Speed: Underground 2 and Need for Speed: Most Wanted, but also incorporates many new additions including the Audi Le Mans quattro, the Chrysler 300C SRT 8, Chevrolet's Chevelle SS and the Toyota MR2 Spyder. Carbon features the Canadian actress and model Emmanuelle Vaugier as Nikki, the player's main source of help and ally in the Career storyline. The game is now available for use with Mac OS X.  Need for Speed: Carbon debuted at number one on the UK All Format Gaming Chart on its first week of release, beating Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer.
The Need for Speed: Carbon Collector's Edition features 4 exclusive cars, 10 pre-tuned cars, 6 new races, 3 unique challenge events, 10 unique vinyls and a Bonus DVD showing the making of Carbon and showcasing all the cars used in the game. The Collector's Edition also features alternate box art and metallic finish packaging. Although the Mac edition doesn't display the Collector's Edition title, it contains all Collector's Edition features. The downloaded version of the game features the Ultimate Performance Kit, 2006 Pagani Zonda F and the 1971 Dodge Challenger.
Many magazines reviewed the game well. PC Format gave it a score of 7.8 out of 10, saying that it was "engaging enough," but lacked innovation. IGN gave it a 7.9 and 8.2 for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 versions respectively, 2 out of 10 possible points. "It's not revolutionary, it's not brilliant, but it's good, deep racing,"(one review went as far as to call it a "GTA ripoff" considering the crew and gang system being too similar to Grand Theft Auto:San Andreas) said IGN. GameSpot gave praise for adding more movie clips, customization and solid gameplay but was critical about frustrating boss battles and under utilizing police chases. Wii is also praised for its motion controls but lacks online play.
Another major criticism of Need for Speed: Carbon was that with its release, many of the anticipated cars such as the Porsche 911 Turbo and Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 were inaccessible in game. After much criticism from common Need for Speed forums such as NFSUnlimited.net and NFScars.net, EA's representative later discussed this as a minor problem made during the late production of the game, and respectively, EA released packages of the locked cars available for download for $5.00 USD on the game's website.
Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the game an average score of 8.0. Hyper's Daniel Wilks commends the game for its "large gameworld" but criticises it for its "easy, drift course mechanics suck [and] cutscene 'actors'".
Windows Vista issuesEdit
The unpatched Windows version of the game has compatibility issues when playing under Windows Vista and crashes after the EA Logo screen, although most issues have been resolved in patch version 1.4. According to EA's Website Support page, they have not released any games that are supported under Windows Vista and suggest changing the compatibility mode to Windows 98 to play EA games if necessary.
In versions prior to 1.4, the game will load with both 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows Vista if the compatibility mode is changed to either Windows 98 or 95. However, the game still crashes frequently. Deleting or renaming the MOVIES folder, however, alleviates the problem. This has also been linked to the 1.3 upgrade patch. Some users have also successfully run the game out of the box on Vista 32-Bit RTM, which suggests that the issue may have been related to issues in Vista's pre-release code