previews\ Sep 3, 2006 at 8:00 pm

Need for Speed Carbon - 360 - Preview

Right from the beginning, I want to say this - Need for Speed: Carbon isn’t intended to be NFS: Most Wanted 2 or NFS: Underground 3.  I recently was invited to visit Vancouver and meet with EA Black Box, the developer of Need for Speed: Carbon.  Electronic Arts this time around is taking the players out of Rockport and placing them in the canyons.  What in the world could EA have up its sleeve to keep the series fresh?  Street racing has been done to death, cop chases are common in Need for Speed titles, and car customization isn’t brand new either.  Well, two words are all that is needed to describe EA Black Box’s feature they are heralding as the new “it” mode.  RIIIIIDDDGE RACER!  Actually it is titled canyon racing.  I know, I know, very funny. 


EA is putting all their chips on the table in anticipation that canyon racing wins over the majority of racing fans.  This is the first time canyon racing has been introduced into a video game that I can recall.  The concept of canyon racing is quite simple - one racer will speed through the tight curves of the canyon as fast as they can while the other tries to keep up.  If the front car escapes or pulls away, s/he is declared the winner.  If the tailgater remains close enough during the race, s/he is the winner.  The concept is comparable to the game of chicken; you can not hit the other car!  If you hit the other car, you automatically lose the race (in real life this is).  If you ask me, canyon racing is the ultimate form of dare.  Do you dare to race at high speeds while dodging oncoming traffic?  Do you dare to risk your life as you could possibly fly off the cliff? 



How will it all translate into the video game art form?  EA is incorporating two runs for the race.  The first run will have the tailgater rallying up points as they stay within the perimeter of the lead car.  The closer they are, the more points they will tally up.  After the run is concluded, it’s time to reverse roles - the front car becomes the tailgater, staying as close as possible, to attempt to beat the rival’s previous set score as it dwindles away on the screen.  Unfortunately, one realistic aspect of canyon racing has been removed – the traffic.  EA had tested the mode with traffic inserted, but in the end it proved to be too difficult to stay within the appropriate distance of the lead car.


If canyon racing isn’t the style of racing that appeals to you, EA also is reintroducing drifting back into the Need for Speed franchise.  EA Black Box made the decision to bring back the Drift Mode for this year’s installment after taking a year off.  A new physics engine and scoring mechanics have been inserted to reestablish the mode to gamers.  The trick for drifting this year is to maintain high speeds (represented by a speed bar on the top of the screen), while keeping your tires in the bonus zones as you drift around the corners.  If you have the bar in the blue, you are driving at the right speed to earn the highest points for your drifts.  There will be multipliers included to linking drifts one after another, along with bonus scoring zones if you are closer to the walls.  If you happen to hit the walls, there will be penalties tacked onto to your score.  The bonus scoring zones work when you have two or all four of our tires in the zone.  On top of all this mayhem of drifting around corners, you are allowed to your use your NOS to speed up your car to avoid hitting the walls.



The last thing I want to speak about is the most important factor in any racing video game – the cars themselves.  EA has divided all the cars in Carbon into three classes - each class is unique on its own and players are asked to pick one when they start the story mode.  The classes include muscle cars, tuners, and last but certainly not least, the exotics.  The muscle cars will be able to get a quick jump at the start with their high accelerations.  The exotics top out at the highest speeds, but aren’t the best when it comes to handling.  The tuners are capable of taking the corners at brilliant speeds without ever worrying of losing control.  The cars all differentiate from one another and the story mode even has three different stories as you pick each different car class.  Here’s a short list of the cars revealed so far in Need for Speed: Carbon.


1 - 1995 Mazda RX-7

2 - 2006 Daimler Chrysler Dodge Viper SRT-10

3 - 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS

4 - 2005 Aston Martin DB9

5 - 2004 Lamborghini Gallardo

6 - 2004 Porsche Carrera GT

7 - 2004 Mazda RX-8 

8 - 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX MR

9 - 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX STi 

10 - 2008 Daimler Chrysler Dodge Challenger Concept

11 - 2006 Daimler Chrysler Dodge Charger SRT-8

12 - 2007 Ford Shelby GT500

13 - 2006 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3


EA is set to announce a new batch of cars in the near future, so we will make sure to update you on the new cars released when the information is provided.  Need for Speed: Carbon is turning out to be a golden delight for every type of racing fan out there.  Do you like tuners and customization?  EA has you covered.  Do you like exotic cars that speed up to over 170 miles per hour?  EA has you covered.  Do you like loud muscle cars that sound mean and beat the opponents off the line?  EA once again has you covered.  Need for Speed: Carbon definitely is heading in the right direction, no doubts about it.

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