X06: Need for Speed Carbon Updated Hands-On

We check out an updated build of EA's next street racer.

BARCELONA, Spain--We'll admit it: We were late to the Need for Speed: Most Wanted party. After spending most of the Xbox 360 launch window playing racing games such as Project Gotham Racing 3 and Burnout Revenge, Most Wanted slipped under our radar. However, just a few minutes with the game recently told us that we had missed something special the first time around. After playing an updated build of Need for Speed Carbon here in Barcelona for X06, we can safely say that we will not be making that same mistake twice.

The build of Carbon we checked out let us play single races, and we explored the game's career mode for a bit, as well. The most impressive aspect of the quick race was the 19 other cars vying for the checkered flag against us. Most Wanted players will remember the very short cutscenes that accompany races in that game; they're still here in Carbon, and there's a real sense of drama and excitement when you watch that long line of cars queue up for the start of a race that will certainly feature a few exciting first corners.

Of course, most of those 19 other cars are merely fodder for your hot rod to slice through. In the handful of quick races we tried out, we were up front and battling for the lead within the first lap, though it must be said that the artificial intelligence of the top group of cars is no slouch. The track we played didn't have much in the way of shortcuts that are so ubiquitous in the NFS series, but we still had a tough battle on our hands trying to get in the lead position.

The race itself took place in your typical NFS setting: a dank and relatively dark urban-industrial area that was mostly devoid of oncoming traffic. Because the race took place at night, it lacked some of the sunny luminosity of the previous game's events, instead opting for a slightly edgier and more dangerous nighttime atmosphere that suited the game just fine. The car's controls (for the record we drove a suped-up Audi LeMans Quattro) were just as squirrelly as we remember them from Most Wanted. Nitrous controls and the ability to slow down time temporarily to navigate tricky sections of road were also in place. There wasn't much of a need to use any time trickery, however, as the general lack of traffic meant that we could zip through the course more or less unimpeded.

After claiming victory in the single race, it was time to take on the career mode. As in the previous game, Carbon's career mode is made up of a slew of different challenges that dot the map along a number of different sections of town. You can choose to enter these challenges either by accessing them on your map or, also like Most Wanted, exploring the world in free-roam mode and running into them while you drive around. Of the various challenges we saw noted on the map, some were familiar standbys, such as checkpoint, circuit, sprint, speed trap, and boss race, and some were new, including drift challenges and something called race wars. No, this isn't an Ice-T song; it's a new challenge mode found in Carbon that pits you against a rival crew. Presumably, this is one area in the game where the Carbon's team-oriented approach comes in to play, as you recruit a team of talented wingmen to help you take over territory from rival street racers. After we took the crown in the race war we ran, we were treated to a nice in-game cutscene, where a female rival drove up to us and advised us to, "go back where we came from." The bad news is that the cutscene drops the cheesy-yet-compelling visual style and hammy acting from Most Wanted. We miss Josie Maran already.

The other new challenge mode was drift, and it played much like a drift challenge in PGR 3. The challenge we tried out took place in a relatively small track shaped more or less like a figure eight. The idea is to score as many drifting points as you can by keeping the tail end of your car sliding and your rear tires smoking around corners. The longer you drift, the more bonus multipliers you'll rack up--keep a drift going for a while, and you'll earn some major points. The physics in drift-mode challenges has been ratched up to make for maximum sliding, and it's a bit tough to get a handle on right away. With a little practice and a lighter-than-normal touch on the steering wheel, we had the kind of drifts going that would make even Sean Boswell proud.

While Need for Speed Carbon doesn't look like a dramatic departure from Most Wanted, that might just turn out well, as the previous game in the series had a sweet mix of challenge, depth, and gorgeous graphics that kept gamers coming back, even if they were late to the party to start with. We have the same high hopes for Carbon and will be keeping our eyes out as the game approaches its release in late October.

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57 comments
Lokey112285
Lokey112285

Played NFS:Carbon demo, It sucked big time. I think it is one of the worst games EA made.

payback_56
payback_56

Yea, after playing the demo a few more times, i actually dont mind the game now, u just have to get used to it, as for the drifting, thats what i was saying, it sucks, u always drift, even if u want to just build up a little speed, as soon as u turn a little, ur drifting!! Also, the racing felt slow to mean, the cars seem very heavy, after trying it a few times u get used to it, but it just felt off, as for the canyon racing, i thought that was pretty cool, nice speed, and fun to play, overall i think this game will turn out to be good, maybe even great if people can get past the auto-drift feature, and the slower racing with heavier cars...

dutch215
dutch215

The game is one of the best NFS I have played

wbx31
wbx31

Played the demo from XBOX Live. Just awful, the races are well done but there is some lag in frame rate which leaves a sort of slow and unease game-play architecture in the technical sense. The drift races puts your car ALWAYS in drift! This is very frustrating and almost not playable. The racing-feel in the normal races are good but the drop in frame rate makes it an utter disappointment!

payback_56
payback_56

The demo has landed, on live, its ok, I expected more, the game has a great feel in terms of atmosphere, feels a lot like tokyo drift, and the bot abilities, and teamwork stuff is cool, but the driving neeeds help... In the circuit race, it seemed like the cars were moving slower, and in drift, the game auto drifts for u, it gets annoying, like if u try to just build up speed, but have to turn a little bit, ur automatically drifting even if u dont want to, that kind of sucks, at least to me... Also, anyone else drive stick? Its hard to tell when to shift, when they didnt just keep the regular tach like before??? Some of the cars dont have super loud engines, or fade out when around other cars, so its hard to hear, and hard to see with the new tach... Just my take on the demo...

NND1
NND1

NFS Most Wanted Was HOT!! Keep it commin' EA and all you Hayterz don't have to play Carbon at all.

Super_Kev
Super_Kev

THIS IS GONNA BE DA BEST GAME IN DA SERIES BY FAR. FIRSLTY COS MW WAS CRAP AND SECONDLY COS DA NFS SERIES IS JUST COMING TO LIFE (FOR ALL THOSE PEOPLE HU FINK IT DIED AFTER HP)

KEELr
KEELr

That Carbon demo that hit markedplace today was absolutely horrible! So thanks EA, those $50 will be spent on Rainbow Six Vegas instead!

bloodhound333
bloodhound333

I liked UG and UG2...................but i also liked MW................the police chase in it is reaaaaaaaaaaal fun.............................i don't think Carbon will be VERY much diff. but its gonna be gr8 as far as the trailers ive seen...............................they've added a LOT more features in the online though

BMAN0201
BMAN0201

The NFS series did not die. It took another direction. If you like the good ol' days, then go back and revisit those games.

houndtooth
houndtooth

wow to vs 19 other cars in quick race.. cool

Zemper
Zemper

Hell no "adijan" EA SUX LIKE HELL, THEY JUST **** THE BEST GAMES EVERY EXISTED Iam TALKING ABOUT "COMMAND & CONQUER" And they are continuing doing that.

_Sam_
_Sam_

I don't think NFS has died

liversnot
liversnot

i first played need for speed on the 3DO that was the best game ever for me at that time. i liked the playstation port less then the 3DO version. nfs 2 was bad, the controlls were to hard i kept hitting the walls and got bored really fast. hot persuit was pretty okay, and i really liked NFS high stakes, me and my friends got into taking each others cars and such was pretty fun, but i must agree teh underground series is NFS's saving grace, had they kept up with the orginal formula they would have gone under really quickly. keep in mind the racing games that come out now we are comparing to NFS underground. i hope carbon again redefines the genre, while keeping more of the same familiar stuff.

Jebril
Jebril

No NFS did not die after Hot Pursuit it was born after Hot Pursuit, have you played any of the games before HP? Yeah they sucked a lot they weren't racing sims and they weren't aracade physics just crap physics. I want NFS to stay in the tuner(ricer) buisness because their the only people who make video games like that good, I mean other than Midnight Club but yeah if I want a racing sim there's Forza, Gran Turismo, and Project Gotham (which is an arcade racing sim). All good titles for me to get.

fkholmes
fkholmes

Faelas The NFS series died after NFS 3 Hot pursuit... Agreed.

jwrebholz
jwrebholz

High Stakes was the pinnacle of the series. HP2 was good but not great. All the rest (especially this recent bent with Underground, Most Wanted etc) just plain bites. Way too arcade-ish. In High Stakes you could tell the difference immediately between a Mercedes, a BMW or a Porsche. Not so anymore. EA is increasingly becoming the Wal-Mart of video games. Big names, watered-down crap for the lowest common denominator.

Wolverine77
Wolverine77

The madden fromula- same thing as the last edition with a couple tweaked features, a new roster, and better graphics. But most wanted was so good I wont complain

Faelas
Faelas

The NFS series died after NFS 3 Hot pursuit...

GFofgaming
GFofgaming

To me, NFS series died after NFS 5(The best in the series), the hotpursuit 2 was the worst. Gre4t i have the same opinion, hardly any different from MW.

Gre4t
Gre4t

Umm.. it sounds exactly like Most Wanted to me..? 'New' drift challenge? Uhh.. NFSU anyone? How can you say it's new?

crisstophe
crisstophe

BEST GAME IVE EVER TRIED MAN GOTTA BE A WINNER

KronikKilla
KronikKilla

Speaking of late to the party... I just bought Most Wanted for my PC a week ago, it is a great game, but I have a feeling Carbon will be better, the Race Wars thing could be interesting online.

DontEatCream
DontEatCream

Everything looks terrific, but I don't see too much potential in the race wars mode... it seems like a contrived excuse to squeeze a extra, unneeded race type into the game, if ya ask me.

Igwababa
Igwababa

This is a perfect example of taking an ultra popular franchise an keeping it going without destroying it like some other franchises.

OfficialBed
OfficialBed

sweet, ill be getting this for sure!

bongsyas_23
bongsyas_23

Whoa this looks awesome. It sounds like this game is gonna be more deeper than Most Wanted was. And the 19 cars you're up against doesn't sound too bad either.

halofreak360
halofreak360

I can't believe they are still making the Need for Speed games, or of the racing games in general. Sure its fun to play them, but there is so many spin offs to the racing genre. And it seems to me that the new racing games only have slight changes to them and slight graphical improvements. I think its a waste of $60 to buy another NFS game.

bongsyas_23
bongsyas_23

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

DJ-PRIME90
DJ-PRIME90

Can't wait. I was pleased with Most Wanted, though I doubt this one will be like it since there seems to be only 1-2 NFS games in each console generation that is all about beating the cops and stuff like that.

Maester-Slayer
Maester-Slayer

Alright, this game sound sweet, i hope it has the same system requirements as most wanted, and I really hope it will come out fo tthe PC. Cause this game sounds soooo sweet. I want it!

simon50
simon50

I hope this is more like the Underground games than most wanted.

karmaortiz
karmaortiz

this sounds like a pass for me if the controls are the same. i hated the controls in mosted wanted, but if they bring back the level of customization that was in NFSU2 and the other features like 0-60, 1/4mi, and dyno test then maybe i'll give it a try. because its more about the cars to me then a crappy story with lame actors.

Deimos27
Deimos27

Heh. Lets see how this turns out. Underground was good... Most Wanted was a bit of a letdown... Hopefully this turns out good...

michaelareb0001
michaelareb0001

Most wanted was a solid game to begin with and the advanced effects they put in the 360 version was just enough to make it worth my next gen money. I liked the location of that game more than the underground series, they were too much Fast and the Furious than NFS. Can't wait for a truly next gen Need For Speed.

khamsaiumn
khamsaiumn

this game doesn compete with forza 2, they are completely different game. Forza is a simulation racing game, NFS series are arcade racing games. i didn't like most wanted a much as the underground series, but we'll see how this turns out.

jd14
jd14

i loved the most wanted so im lookin forward 2 this

xXHackettXx
xXHackettXx

I didnt really like Most Wanted that much, plus how is it going to compete with Forza Motersport 2?

Banana_Kid
Banana_Kid

Last I checked, this game didn't have Razor Callahan. Last I checked, I didn't care about this game.

nistergribber
nistergribber

Sounds like a rehash of Most Wanted with a little Tokyo Drift throw in -- though I did like Most Wanted so, I think I'll just keep playing that (Until I get my external HD-DVD drive and then I can Tokyo Drift in style!!)

GodsBusy
GodsBusy

@bubnux Underground 2?!? Underground 2 was terrible, much worse than the first one. And for the record, Need for Speed: Porsche for the PC (not the console versions) was the best NFS ever made. Carbon looks good though.

bubnux
bubnux

NFS Underground 2 was the best NFS ever made, Most Wanted was a huge letdown, I hope that this one lives up to the franchise.

doomhesoka55
doomhesoka55

"Race wars" it sounds good! but the thing is why every time its all time night or all time day? !!!!!!