Need for Speed: Carbon is a racing video game in the Need for Speed series, developed by EA Canada and EA Black Box for the PC version, and published by Electronic Arts. It was released in October 30, 2006 for PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance and GameCube, November 16, 2006 for PlayStation 3 and November 19, 2006 for the Nintendo Wii.
Despite looking like a rehash of Most Wanted (2005) (because they use the same engine), this game introduced a lot of great features, a lot of which are inherited by following games.
Canyons (one of the biggest selling point) are executed very well. It can be presumed that this game rode on the hype of Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift & Initial D series. Way darker color scheme (than Underground 2), destructable guardrails, and spooky soundtrack (by Trevor Morris) make driving in canyons very thrilling and engaging.
A new game mode called Canyon Duel is introduced, where in the first turn you must chase your opponent's car and in the second turn, the opponent chases you, and you must get away from your opponent and reach the finish line before your score goes to zero.
Crew system (another one of the biggest selling point) were added into the game, where your crew will do certain actions to help you in the race. Some will find shortcuts in the track, while others will crash other racers in the race. Also they have secondary features (eg. Nikki reduces car purchase costs by 10%, while Yumi reduces upgrade costs by 10%.) Crew races also have their exclusive dynamic soundtrack (also by Trevor Morris).
The starting path and order of career mode, as well as the unlocks will depend on the player's starting choice. For example, if the player chooses the Exotic Career (Alfa Romeo Brera), they will start their career in Fortuna (exotic cars dominated territory), and exotic supercars will be unlocked faster and earlier.
Performance customization is improved. Now you can tune individual parts of the cars like engine, transmission, suspension, nitrous, tires, brakes and turbo/supercharger.
Autosculpt is introduced, a feature where you can alter the shape of the front bumper, rear bumper, side skirts, spoilers, rims and even increase or decrease the size of exhaust tips.
Paints and vinyls customization are also largely improved. Now you can pick colors from the spectrum instead of just some fixed colors. Also a lot more paint types are introduced. Vinyls are also freely movable & deformable instead of just some fixed presets like previous titles.
The story, like Most Wanted (2005), is great enough for a racing game. Although being a direct sequel to Most Wanted (2005), you don't have to play that to understand this game, which is very convenient.
Expanded car list with most of the cars from Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005) either returns or are updated to newer models. Most notably, Nissan returns after being cut from Most Wanted.
Despite not being realistic, drift races in this game is extremely fun and satisfying.
Online only modes like Pursuit & Pursuit Knockout is very fun to play.
Challenge series is improved. Despite being shorter, it now features all kinds of race modes, making it much less repetitive.
The introduction of reward cards (assignment-based system where completing all 4 in a group unlocks a certain stuff) makes this game's endgame session much more fun. in Most Wanted (2005) the only endgame thing to do is farming pursuit milestones which is repetitive, while in this game you get to do many more things.
However, this system is pretty broken. See "bad qualities" below.
Impressive licensed soundtrack, like in previous games.
The soundtrack plays depending on the player's car class (Hip Hop/Grime for the Exotic Supercars, Rock for American Muscle and Electronic for JDM Import Tuners)
The PSP version (Own the City) is the best PSP NFS game of all, despite not having things such as canyons and Autosculpt for PSP's limitations.
This game has arguably the darkest storyline of the whole franchise, despite its briefness.
This is the only PSP NFS game (and one of the very few PSP racing games in existence) to have free roam mode and with police chases.
Because EA demanded Black Box to make this game for the 7th generation console AND release it on time (the game was completed on October 13, 2006 according to the in-game files), this game is very visibly rushed with a lot of features being underdeveloped/cut. Notice that this game is significantly shorter than Most Wanted (2005) despite having so many new things. These can be discovered through datamining and promotional materials. Unfortunately this buried the very first seed of EA "torturing" developers (according to their own words) to finish things that are straight-up impossible, and it flourished wildly in the following years, nearly killing the franchise.
The idea of different car classes sounds cool on paper, but it was so exaggerated that the cars are both unrealistic and unbalanced. For example, Tuners are super underpowered, and Exotics become lumps of lead that accelerate very slowly & often refuse to turn (even the famously agile Lotus Elise 111R suffers from this). Muscle cars turns out to be extremely useful in most situations if one can handle them properly.
Although this game retains all the pursuit mechanics in Most Wanted (2005), cops are totally irrelavant except doing certain missions. Plus, some important numbers (e.g. fines, infractions, and total bounty) don't show anywhere. Players who haven't played Most Wanted (2005) can expect to be confused.
Some opponents have Rubberband AI, though this is more balanced than in the prequel. However, cops do actually have noticeable Rubberband AI compared to Most Wanted.
Rubberband from crew members are extremely wild. This can be both productive and counter-productive.
Drag racing is gone in favor of Drift events.
Some of the features on the 6th gen console version are absent, like Race Wars, and some aftermarket parts.
Licensed music only plays in free roam and checkpoint races.
If you are playing with the game's language set to Spanish, the reward card Fast Wheels says you must obtain $50,000 in Cost to State, which is very misleading. You must actually reach $200,000 to obtain the reward card.
Some cars can only be driven in Quick Race mode or are impossible to unlock, despite having hidden price tags. however, they can be made usable in Career Mode through modding.
The Nissan 240SX (S13) is really powerful and it is really useful to defeat the bosses.
There is a rumor that Carbon was actually supposed to be the Underground 3.