How to enjoy this very slick driving game -- by unlocking its full potential.

User Rating: 8.5 | Need for Speed: Carbon PC
Having just trashed a different EA racing game (Burnout Paradise) I felt compelled to give a salute to NFS Carbon, which I love.

Now, hey, NFS Carbon takes place exclusively at night; and as such, I will grant you that the daytime game world of NFS Most Wanted looked better. However, Carbon's vehicles look better, there are additional excellent vehicles, they have better customization options -- and, most of all, THEY DRIVE BETTER. Carbon has some of the most satisfying driving dynamics I have ever experienced in an arcade racer. And did you hear the engine sounds? Forget it! The rumble and whine is pure gold! The various mechanical clunks and gasps as you switch gears on the different cars -- it's a gas! Pun intended! It's fun just to drive around in free mode, tearing it up, looking for trouble, seeing how long you can evade the cops (and how much damage you can do in your indestructible car).

And the night driving is not so bad; the lighting is excellent and plenty bright, the streets are alive, and the reflections are luminous. The "chrome" car-paint option looks great as well.

I'll keep the rest short, and my apologies for a skeletal, sloppy structure to the writing, but here's how I recommend you go about having fun with this game:

-- Play career mode straight-up till it gets boring or frustrating, then start messing around with cheats and hacks (in my case, I eventually "controlled' the whole map before cheating, but there were still some events I had not completed).

-- Set up more than one profile; you can only have six bought cars per profile, and I wanted more, and it's easy enough to switch profiles in-game and drive all your cars to your heart's content. I even copied some profiles and renamed the folder and the actual save file, so as to have duplicate cars that I could customize in different ways, easy as pie.

******* [NOTE: when creating or renaming profiles, avoid using digital cues to differentiate; for example if you have one profile named "GEORGE" and name your alternate profile "GEORGE2" or "2GEORGE" or the like, Carbon will simply continue saving under the GEORGE profile. Just go ahead and call the other one JORGE or JUGHEAD or REGGIE or MAGGOT.]

-- use Code Ripper's save editor on your profiles, to add money and unlock everything (after you're through messing with "career mode" straight-up). NFS Carbon is notoriously stingy with the cash flow; and ultimately, let's be honest, you want to drive all the cars, don't you? You do, trust me. So, after you feel you've milked the normal gameplay sufficiently, DO cheat and give plenty of cash and unlock all the goodies.

-- Buy cars and repaint them and stylize them and (like the man says in "River Kwai") be happy in your work.

-- Advanced: use Tsearch to hex-edit the the memory while the game is running, and add custom cars (Pagani, Audi, Koenigsegg, BMW, etc.) to the car lot, so you can purchase them and save your profile and keep them in career mode. (You can get the hex codes online, at numerous sites.) These are cars that are not otherwise available in career mode, without hex editing in one way or another. (I found the Tsearch method, editing while the game is running, to be the most straightforward; do a search for the free Tsearch utility.) There are some online tutorials on how to do this; if you want more explicit instructions send me a PM and I'll spell it out for you. BE AWARE that many aspects of these custom cars cannot be modified. You can change PAINT and WHEELS no problem. In most cases VINYLS are OK (I couldn't customize the vinyls on the custom Porsche, though, for example; and, with the BMW I could change the colors of the stock vinyl layout, but that was all I could do vinyl-wise to that car). Performance options are locked out on all the cars except for NITROUS on the Audi ONLY. Spoilers often look stupid or just plain wrong; and trying to so much as click through some of the body modifications for, say, the BMW, may even crash the game; these cars, after all, were not fully intended for "career" mode and its subsequent customizable options. But they run just perfectly fine there, and you can still change the paint and the wheels to your heart's desire, and haul ass through the streets.

-- Go find trouble, cause mayhem, be a maniac, ram the cops, stay "unbusted" as long as possible while totaling as many cruisers as possible. For this is fun, fun, fun. Oh, yeah, and you might want to join the occasional "normal" race with one of your prized cars.

Also, BACK UP YOUR SAVED GAMES REGULARLY, as you should always do whenever saving overwrites your entire profile.