Need for Speed: Carbon (GameCube) Review

By Adam Riley 06.12.2006 5

Review for Need for Speed: Carbon on GameCube

Each year we are treated to updates of Electronic Arts' various properties, one of those being the now immensely popular Need for Speed series. The franchise has actually been around for well over a decade, but only hit dizzy heights when the 'Underground' edition launched. Since then, Need for Speed has not looked back, already grabbing two lucrative Christmas No.1 placings in the UK and hotly tipped to do so again this year with the latest update, Need for Speed: Carbon. But with this being possibly one of EA's last ever GameCube iterations, is it really worth picking up as a final goodbye to the system?

Long gone are the days when you could simply buy a new racing game and jump straight in without any thought about a background story or different in-game characters. Nowadays, developers feel that due to heavy competition on the market, in order to justify a game's existence it should have some real purpose and meaning behind it. Therefore, Carbon (taken from 'Carbon Canyon') has some half-baked tale about 'owning the streets' and causing problems with rival gangs, having to face them in numerous racing challenges in order to build up your reputation and become king of the entire neighbourhood. Are you that bothered, or do you just want crazy-fast driving?

Now that EA has two fast-paced racing games under its belt (the other being Criterion's Burnout), ensuring both have distinctive identities that prevent people from assuming they are the same title with different names. Need for Speed does this by going for a dark, 'street' vibe, with real actors superimposed onto computer graphic backgrounds and working from there. EA definitely gives its best shot at making the game have a 'hip' and 'trendy' feel...whether it succeeds at doing this properly, though, I certainly am not the one to ask. However, with detailed locations, a wealth of impressive car customisation options so you can amend vehicles at your whim, as well as a solid frame-rate, it does not disappoint from a visual point of view.

Screenshot for Need for Speed: Carbon on GameCube

Even the EA Trax this time round has been strengthened, offering more versatility for gamers that do not want to be stuck with one particular type of music if they despise it. Therefore, you are able to choose from Hip-Hop / R'n'B, Rock or Electronic tunes to be played whilst working your way through the various menus and for when actually driving around the streets. Personally I preferred a little bit of Cars by Gary Numan...but at least there are other choices available for different tastes.

The actual game takes on a sort of Grand Theft Auto theme, except without the on-foot sections or violence. Once you have chosen which car you wish to start your career mode with it is straight out onto the streets of Palmont City to face whatever challenges await you. You start off with three main challenges available, with the objectives ranging from a race around a circuit for a set number of time to reaching a set location before the rest of the pack and even having to build up the highest speed at checkpoints around a course. But you do not have to deal with these different race types on your own as a partner will accompany you. These wingmen can be hired or fired from your 'crew' in-between races, depending on how useful they prove to be. For example, the first one you are presented with offers to block off opponents during races, whilst another one you can unlock early on finds out the quickest routes for you to take in order to shave vital seconds off your race time. Plus there are ones that help give you a nice boost, if you can manage to stay in-line behind them for long enough, that is (it proves awkward since the amount of straight sections are out-numbered by bends). It is a nice little addition and adds a real tactical aspect to races, with the timing of when they are used impacting on the outcome of many races. Get it wrong and you will have wasted a great chance to win...

Screenshot for Need for Speed: Carbon on GameCube

The handling of each vehicle depends on the stats it has, but in general the game is actually pretty easy to control. Within a short space of time you will be flying around the streets at ridiculous speeds, alternating between the accelerator and brake to perfect corners and even doing hand-brake turns to manoeuvre round ultra-tight bends. The sense of speed is lost at times, though, due to the blur effect being used constantly. For Burnout, when you unleash your boost the screen added a sort of blurring effect to imply you were going much faster, which worked really well. This, however, has basically been implemented on a permanent basis, negating the impact overall. So really the game does not always feel too speedy after all...(perhaps it has a 'need for speed' *groan*)...until you open up some of the later car classes, which do actually have a fair zip to them.

Anyway, once you have earned enough in the popularity stakes, you will be pitted against a 'boss' in a duel back up in the canyon, where you must stay within a certain distance of the boss for Part One, with vice versa being the case for Part Two. Beating each boss leads to you 'owning' more of the city and various story-led FMVs being unveiled, fleshing out your background and why your character left a bad taste in Palmont City's figurative mouth. The city itself is split into four territories, and with you choice of vehicle made (exotic, tuner or muscle cars), it becomes all about the racing. Unless you are doing one of the drifting challenges, that is, in which case it becomes all about the drifting...*ahem* In order to grab a-hold of a territory, you will have to take control of each of the zones, most of which may force you to race more than once in order to maintain control (annoying, but street crews will try to nab areas from you whilst you are busy elsewhere, fact of [gaming] life!). Overall, Carbon feels different enough from Most Wanted to warrant a purchase, whilst retaining enough of a link to its predecessor to make owners of MW feel at home. Quite a nice balance!

Screenshot for Need for Speed: Carbon on GameCube

And there certainly is a lot to do in the game as EA really does try its best to make sure there is sufficient content in the game to warrant that purchase for those people unsure about buying this as well as last year's Most Wanted. In addition to the main mode, you can unlock extras by achieving specific goals within the main game and receiving special cards. For example, there are over forty different cars to either earn or unlock and so much customisation you may not even know where to start! Once you have earned enough money you can have lots of fun amending your vehicle of choice to your heart's desire.

Screenshot for Need for Speed: Carbon on GameCube

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

It is definitely a tough call whether this is a better game than last year's Most Wanted. But whatever the case, it is definitely the finest racing game you can pick up for the GameCube this year and fun for racing fans in general. Give this more than a passing glance!


EA Games







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


Great review! (as always:D)

Not too bad...and hopefully the Wii version will do well with the additional horsepower and control scheme.

Avoid Games Like the Plague, productivity++

I thought it deserves a rent. It's actually pretty fun.

You forgot to mention that it's a load of derivative shite with a juddery frame rate that makes you want to kill kittens.

It's going to be shit and you jolly well know it.

Fantastic review as always Raz. Totally unbiased which is why in my opion when it comes to Nintendo games and products, Cubed3 reviews hold water more than everyone else, even over the "new" NOM.

Although I've seen bad press concerning the Carbon control scheme on Wii in other magazines. I'll wait until you guys review it before I finally make up my mind. If bite comes to crunch I'll just pick up the GC version.

The game that has been stirring a lot of controversey at the moment is Red Steel and it's review scores have seriously been a mixed bag with NOM giving it 9.1 and ign gave it 6 while GAMES TM gave it 5/10.

I'm really really disappointed at this but I'm waiting for the Cubed3 (Jedi) review team to deliver their verdict before I make my decision.

What can be said about you guys is that you don't possess the often times anti-Nintendo sentiment I get from SOME journalists in GAMES TM and you certainly don't have your Nintendo blinders on which is still often the case that I find with even the "new" NOM, hence when you review that game, it for me it will be considered the gospel truth.

ive got this for GC.....first its a preety fun game... but it gets boring preety quick... and story mode is so short... ive unlcoked everything on the game 4/5 days... so you might wanna thing when you spend your

I see all these people insulting the Nintendo corporation because of the lack of mature content. Yet there is something about Nintendo (at least their games) that strikes a certain unadulterated feeling of joy!!!  Pokemon Y - 1048-9263-5562

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