Saturday, April 24, 2010

Video game number one hundred and eleven: Need for Speed Carbon

Video game review number one hundred and eleven in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is"Need for Speed: Carbon".

I was a big fan of Need for Speed: Most Wanted, the game that came out right after this one (and also, the last of the Need for Speed series to sport the "outrun the cops" feature. Outrunning the cops has always been my favorite part of this game...and once they took it out, they basically took the heart right out of the series. I don't think the NFS games will be great again until they add that feature back in.

I've been playing a lot of Forza 3 lately (they released a car pack with the new Mini Cooper concept and somehow, that got me interested again) playing Carbon was a big step down. The driving controls in this game are slippery, and you rarely feel like you're really in control of the car. It's not like the Burnout series, where the car moves so fast you're just sort of along for the's more like the streets are a frying pan, and you're a cold slice of butter. You slip and slide around corners, never feeling a real connection with the road. Crashing causes no damage to your indestructible basically, your driving skill doesn't matter in this game. Like a kid on the Autopia at Disneyland, you can drive however you like, but the rails will eventually take you where you're supposed to go.

I wasn't about to start the career (you can race various street gangs for control of the city). Instead, I wanted to jump right into the freeroam mode and start up a pursuit to see how fun it was to outrun the cops in this one. The answer? Not very.

Finding a cop is hard. I crashed into civilians, wrecked property and sometimes parked right next to my crime hoping that they'd show up, but the cops never came. The only way to find them seemed to be to drive around until your radar detector started sounding, or until you just happened to drive right into one. Once you find the cops, it's on....and you get to run.

I found the cops a little too easy to ditch, and in order to get the one achievement I was able to earn (survive a chase for 12 minutes before escaping)....I had to slow down and let them catch up to me quite a few times. One time, I actually lost them and had to actively go find another cop to keep my pursuit counter going. I couldn't find one (even though 10 had just been chasing me) and that was 8 minutes down the drain.

Overall Score? 3/10. The cut scene graphics are cool (and there's a plot) but the driving itself is not much fun at all. I have no desire to play this one anymore.

Achievements? You get them for playing through the career (which I had no interest in doing) or playing online (which you'll need to earn money to buy good cars for first). I played three or four online matches in my starter car...and I could barely finish the race before the timer ran out. Lame, lame, Lame.

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