Arriving in EA Blackbox, Vancouver, Canada, I expected to see some what of a Most Wanted 2 themed game. I had seen the teaser trailer online and expected to see a lot of drift racing similar to Underground with a very similar most wanted feel. What I was shown may have some similarities to its predecessor but it was definitely more new than old.We began by viewing some of the storyline behind Need for Speed Carbon. You have just come out of Rock Port only to meet up with some new faces. There is a clouded memory that is haunting you and as before there is a girl. But what you also get in this version is friends or crew members. These folks are here to help and they had some comic relief along the way.
The artwork is stunning. We were given the opportunity to see the landscapes via the Xbox 360 and the graphics were outstanding. While the game is played completely in the night, the lighting is done very well to give you good visibility while still maintaining the ever looming darkness. The art team for Carbon really had there work cut out for them too. This game is coming out on every platform available. I think they have done a good job getting the Next Gen look up to par and keeping current gen graphics on a level that does not destroy the machines.
We were then given a look into the name Carbon and the idea behind it. Carbon was derived from Carbon Canyon in California. The name ties directly into one of the new modes and main focus for the game. Canyon racing is huge and great time was spent by the developers studying and living in the canyon racing scene to get a feel for what sets canyon racing apart. The canyon races are literally on the edge with drastic elevation changes, blind corners and big consequences.
The racing is generally kept to big races in career mode and is done in 2 phases. In the first the challenger starts behind the other car and attempts to keep up. The closer the challenger is the faster points accrue. Fall too far behind for too long or drive off the edge and it is game over. However if you can pass the other racer the race will quickly end in victory. The second phase puts the challenger in the lead. The other car then will take points away at an increasing rate the closer it stays to the challenger. To win a canyon challenger you must finish the second phase with more than 0 points left.
Carbon brings other new modes of play in as well. Drifting has been resurrected and it is back in a big way. The scoring system has been totally redone and the feel is much more natural. The scoring is split up into speed, angle and distance from the edge or wall. The close zones on corners offer the highest rewards. Winning a drift is the same as it was before. The most points takes home the trophy.
Another great addition is crews. Your crew will assist you in the career mode. There are two classes of crew members. The first class will help out in the races. You will be able to have a blocker who can take out your opponents increasing your chances of wining, a scout who will highlight shortcuts to the finish, and a drafter who will get in front and provide you with a speed boost. The second class of crew members will help you in the garage. You will be able to have fabricators who can customize the look of your ride, mechanics who will help the performance, and fixers. Having a couple of fabricators will unlock more custom parts and having more than one mechanic will increase the number of performance options available. The crew is limited to 4 members and you will be given the option to always trade and mix and match to fit the current situation.
In the beginning of the game you will need to choose one of the three classes of cars. You can be exotic, tuner or muscle and your choice will affect the storyline you follow.
Each one of the car classes belongs in a certain part of the city. The exotics territory will have tracks that give an exotic car advantages when racing and the same holds true for the other classes. Picking a class does not necessarily lock you in to it for the rest of the game. You will need to switch between classes to advance and win but the primary class will determine you preference and storyline.
Cops have gotten a little smarter in this version thanks to a more advanced AI. The cops will engage you during races and continue pursuit after the race is over. They will also engage you during roaming. I noticed that they are better at setting up perimeters when searching for you and the best part is they will focus on high traffic errors. If you race a lot in one particular part of the city the cops will beef up patrols in that area. So in addition to the heat on your car they have added heat levels to zones in the city. This will make it pretty easy to find cops and adds an extra level of difficulty into the game.
Back in the garage the folks at EA Blackbox have added an incredible feature called AutoSculpt TM. This feature was really great. Basically it allows you to customize the look of a part, vinyl, and paint available for your car. Each piece has the ability to be moved, adjusted and rotated to allow a very unique look for each car. Seeing it in action is the only way to get a real appreciation for it but I must say this was one of the more jaw dropping features added.
The folks over at EA Blackbox presented an absolutely outstanding Community Day. We were given a chance to play the game some and see how they made it. The results are stunning. In addition to seeing the console version we were paid a visit by the PSP developers who are working on the PSP version titled NFS CARBON: Own the City. This version will have 29 cars in it and allow up to 2 crew members. The game is very different from its console brother but it offers great game play.
For more information about the Need for Speed Carbon visit the official website at www.ea.com/nfs/carbon.
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