Need For Speed Carbon PlayStation 3
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Out Now
Those looking to pick up a racing title with their PlayStation 3 are, to a certain degree, spoilt for choice. Formula One: Championship Edition, Ridge Racer 7 and of course Need For Speed Carbon are available and to have three such games ready to purchase on launch day can only be good news for those looking for a racing title to play on their brand new PlayStation 3. All three titles are the latest in a long running series and fans of those series will all know pretty much what to expect from those games. Last year we reviewed the PC and PlayStation 2 versions of Need For Speed Carbon and it's fair to say we enjoyed both titles. Let's take a look at what the extra power of the PlayStation 3 can do for the game.
The game is set in Palmont City and the idea of NFS Carbon is to conquer each of the different territories that make up Palmont City. You’ll take territories by claiming the blocks in those territories. This is done by winning the race events in those blocks. You’ll begin your career by choosing one of three different cars. There are three different car classes in NFS Carbon. There are Tuner, Exotic and Muscle cars to choose from and they all have their own pros and cons. There are quite a few events to take part in such as checkpoint races, circuit races, drift races etc. There are also a few where the police are involved, arguably there aren’t enough of them, such as pursuit evasion and trade paint events. Of course you’ll have bosses to deal with too and they can be tricky. You can choose to go straight to the events or simply free roam Palmont City. Naturally you can modify your car too. Outside of the Career mode there is also a Quick Race mode, a Quick Match mode, a Challenge series mode, a Custom Match mode and of course an Online mode which allows you to gain XP and level up. Levelling up allows you to access exclusive cars and additional customisation options.
The main difference between NFS Carbon and previous NFS titles is you have your own crew and can employ them as wingmen during races. You can have three crew members at any one time and each comes with race and career bonuses. Neville for instance will earn you extra cash from each race. Each crew member also has specific roles to play when used as a wingman. There are three wingman roles to play as. The types of wingman are drifter, scout and blocker. Blockers get in the way of other drivers, drifters allow you to enter their slipstream allowing you to benefit from the reduced drag and scouts highlight shortcuts to allow you to complete races in the quickest time possible. The use of these wingmen is limited though. They can be useful at times, especially the blockers, but most of the time you can get along fine without them.
Whilst the PlayStation 3 version of NFS Carbon is visually superior to the PlayStation 2 and the PC version it's by no means as good as you would expect. Textures are more detailed and car models are a little sharper but it's easy to see that this isn't a game that was designed from the ground up to take advantage of the PlayStation 3 hardware. The character models, for example, are extremely disappointing and are only fractionally better than they were on the PlayStation 2.The frame rate was disappointing on the two versions of the game we saw last year, so we were hoping the PlayStation 3 version would offer a rock solid 60fps. Sadly it doesn't and there are some noticeable dips in the frame rate. However, it's still a far smoother experience than the PlayStation 2 version and this makes the handling far more satisfactory. Load times aren't bad either, which is certainly an improvement on the PlayStation 2 version.
Support for deaf gamers in the PC and PlayStation 2 version was poor and sadly it's exactly the same in this PlayStation 3 version. The game begins with the usual supermodel delivered disclaimer, about the need to drive safely in real life, which isn’t subtitled. The introductory cutscene also isn’t subtitled. In fact none of the game’s cutscenes are subtitled meaning you’ll miss out on the game’s story which to some extent is disappointing although in truth you don’t play the NFS games for their rich storyline. Comments from various characters during the races are not subtitled. The tutorial you’re given from Nikki about using your wingmen is not subtitled, although you do receive brief text messages that sort of get the point across. On the positive side you’ll receive text messages from time to time that explain what needs to be done and any important communications you receive are shown in text too. In short the game’s rather disappointing in its support for deaf gamers. As you probably already know the Sixaxis controller is not equipped with force feedback. Playing the game without the tactile feedback that force feedback provides was certainly strange and it's something that will only disadvantage deaf gamers as hearing gamers have the benefit of being able to hear the tyres screeching etc. At the time of writing it looks as though Sony will eventually release controllers with force feedback and I certainly hope this is the case as its absence definitely provides a poorer experience for deaf gamers.
Need For Speed Carbon is a good beginning to the series on the PlayStation 3, although with that said there is a certain degree of disappointment with the game. The game is essentially identical to the other versions of NFS Carbon so if you've played the game on any of the other formats you might not want to purchase the game again simply because it's on the PlayStation 3. The graphics do look better but they are not the standard you'd expect from the PlayStation 3. Neither is the frame rate, which fails to remain constant although it's certainly an improvement on the PlayStation 2 and PC versions. Support for deaf gamers is just as poor too, which is very disappointing. However, if you are a fan of the Need For Speed series and didn't pick up NFS Carbon on any other format then you'll be happy with what NFS Carbon has to offer because even with its problems it's still a solid launch title.
Need For Speed Carbon is certainly a good start to the series' life on the PlayStation 3. However, the game doesn't really take advantage of the console's power. The car models are improved somewhat but they don't look as good as they could have. All things considered, it's a good launch title and if you haven't played a previous version of Need For Speed Carbon you're going to enjoy what it has to offer.