Need For Speed Carbon Review for Wii

On: WiiXbox 360PS3PCDSPS2XboxPSPGBACube
Carbon on the Wii doesn't make great use of the Wii's controllers
Carbon on the Wii doesn't make great use of the Wii's controllers

Carbon on the Wii doesn't make great use of the Wii's controllers

EA struck a chord with speed hounds in 2003 with the street racing success Need for Speed Underground. Naturally, strong sales brought us a sequel, a handful of shoddy replicas (SRS and Juiced come to mind), and eventually the release of last year's solid Most Wanted, which launched alongside the 360. Now, a year later, EA has brought back the street racing franchise with Need for Speed Carbon, a direct sequel to Most Wanted featuring the same over-the-top FMV sequences, intense police chases, and a heavy emphasis on speed and customisation. With EA being strong supporters of the Wii, it's no surprise that a version of game also launched alongside the system, but is it more than a quick port?

NFS Carbon on the Wii is more or less a 'carbon' copy of the game that's appeared on almost every platform going, but it does feature some quite drastically different controls. The default method is to use the Wii-mote, with the d-pad position on the left. This is then tilted to act as a steering wheel. It's a control scheme that other racing games on the Wii have implemented, but that doesn't mean it's automatically the best option for racing. It simply doesn't offer the precision or sense of control that's required.

Another four control set-ups are available, and these all make use of the Nunchuck and Wii-mote. In these cases the Wii-mote is used as a gas-pedal, tilting forwards to accelerate, while a few set-ups also map break to pulling up on the Wii-mote. Steering is either handled by tilting the Nunchuck (which feels completely wrong) or by using the analogue stick, and the latter is by far the best option. By using the analogue stick to steer, the 'Z' button to break and the Wii-mote 'pedal' to accelerate, the game is playable, but there's no question that it plays significantly better with a standard controller on other systems.

A general lack of thought in the menu navigation is also worth mentioning. Considering the default control scheme uses the Wii-mote on its side, it would have made sense to map the directional controls to the d-pad in the orientation the controller is being held, but this isn't the case. This means that pressing 'up' is actually 'right', 'right' is 'down' and so on. It's a slight niggle, but another example of the controls not being thought out enough in the port over to the Wii. Unsurprisingly, there's also no online play, with multiplayer games limited to two-player split-screen, and the modes missing in the current-gen versions are also missing here.

'... there's no question that it plays significantly better with a standard controller on other systems.'

Picking up directly after Most Wanted, Carbon pits players in a city divided by four territories and the surrounding carbon canyons (hence the name), with the objective being to take over all of that land and win your ex-girlfriend back, naturally. The bulk of your time with Carbon will be spent in its 10-hour Career mode. Here players have the choice to pick one of three car classes: Tuners, for those of you who prefer handling over speed; Exotics, cars that excel in both acceleration and top speed, and take the corners reasonably well; and Muscle cars, which excel in raw power, but are difficult to control.

Most Wanted was all about intense police chases and one-on-one racing, but Carbon is all about taking over territory. The map is divided into four sections, each with multiple zones to control. Win enough matches in a zone (two to be exact), and your team can claim the region; win enough regions and the territory is yours for the taking.

The races themselves are your standard fare, consisting of the Sprint, Circuit and Drift matches, the latter of which has undergone a complete overhaul. Drift matches now require an incredible amount of skill to complete as your car slides around as if you're racing on a sheet of ice. In the Underground series you could at least control your drift to some degree, but in Carbon the slightest tilt of the stick results in your car sliding uncontrollably in all directions.

If you can work through the control issues, the game is a solid racer.

If you can work through the control issues, the game is a solid racer.

At least in the standard races you'll have the help of your crew members to even the odds. Crew members are split up into three groups: scouts, blockers, and drafters. As the name suggests, scouts race ahead of you and snipe out hidden shortcuts and alternate paths; drifters speed ahead of you, allowing you to drift behind them before slingshoting past at the press of a button; and blockers zoom past your opponents and purposely stop in front of them, ultimately blocking them from advancing ahead of you. As helpful as the wingman feature might sound, it actually ends up being a hindrance on your performance. For example, in order to fully take advantage of a drifter, you need a solid straight away, and with Carbon's many twists and turns, trying to set up a good drift can send you into the side of a guardrail more often than not. Similarly, the blockers often have a hard time keeping up with your car, and as a result, the only blocking they do is on the cars closest to the back of the pack. The scouts are the most useful of the bunch, but even then, they often make quick last minute turns into the many alternate paths, giving you only a split second to react and change your direction.

While the race missions aren't any different from previous instalments, EA has included a few curve balls in the form of the speed trap races, where the winner is determined by the cumulative amount of MPH reached after hitting each trap (similar to Test Drive), and the canyon races, where you duel it out in a two-part match with a crew boss atop one of the city's enormous canyons. Part one of the canyon matches has you racing as closely as possible to your opponent - the closer you are, the more points you earn. In the second race, the roles are reversed and the crew boss follows you. Whoever earns the most points at the end of two rounds is the victor.

Similar to Most Wanted, which packed some seriously challenging battles, especially near the end of the game, the canyon races are awfully difficult as the crew boss in question often drives a much better car than you (you can earn the car's pink slip if you're lucky at the end of the match) and is an overall better racer, taking corners perfectly and earning seemingly periodic speed boosts despite the nitrous option being disabled for the match. To make matters worse, if your opponent gets ahead of you by 10 seconds, or if you happen to drive right off the cliff, it's game over. Granted, this also applies to your opponent as well, though getting that far ahead of the boss is near impossible. The camera also tends to shift to the car's left side unexpectedly around certain bends, resulting in numerous crashes and plenty of lost time.

Visually it's largely the same as the PS2 and Xbox versions

Visually it's largely the same as the PS2 and Xbox versions

When you're not duelling it out atop canyons, chances are you'll be indoors customizing your ride. The Underground series introduced a level of car customization that was unheard of for its time, and Carbon continues to up the ante, adding a few new bells and whistles for good measure. As you win races and earn cash, you also unlock additional parts which can then be bought and added to your car. The number of parts is lacking in comparison to Underground 2, but what Carbon lacks in parts, it more than makes up for with the new Auto-Sculpt feature. You can dynamically sculpt sections of your spoiler, rear and front bumpers, skirts, and so forth by adjusting a series of sliders. Though it's an admittedly aesthetic feature and has no bearing on your overall race performance, it's sure as hell fun to tinker with and will easily eat up an extra few hours on top of the game's single-player bout.

Wii Carbon looks pretty comparable to the PS2 and Xbox version of the game, so it's not an especially impressive Wii title, but runs in widescreen and 480p Progressive Scan. Music is typical street racing urban stuff, and you'll know if that's your kind of thing based on what's been included in previous Need for Speed titles. It's generally pretty inoffensive stuff, but certainly isn't for everyone.

Need for Speed Carbon is one of those games that simply isn't best played on the Wii. Racing games are yet to prove themselves on the system, and Carbon is another that suffers due to the Wii's controllers. Control issues aside, it's another solid racer from EA, and the Auto-Sculpt feature is absolutely fantastic. If you've been following the series up to this point, and were a fan of last year's Most Wanted, Carbon should be right up your alley, but the Wii version shouldn't be the version you play.

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fghjgh's Avatar

fghjgh@ fghjgh

???????????????? plzzzzzzzz help
Posted 11:39 on 23 August 2010
fghjgh's Avatar

fghjgh

can you use the wii wheel for this game??
Posted 11:37 on 23 August 2010
matt_flangan's Avatar

matt_flangan

i love the mother fucker mostly the muscle
Posted 22:39 on 07 April 2010
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Big G

I already have Mario Kart (the greatest) for my Wii but fancied a "serious" racer too. I did my research and Carbon generally seems to get the best reviews. Do not buy Cruisin by the way, it is as bad as they say. Carbon is fun - shame there are no computer cars on split-screen 2 player, but single player is a lot of fun and steering is fine using the Wii wheel after a bit of practice.
Posted 23:02 on 14 October 2008
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Anonymous

i have had carbon for 2 days and it is the best i got a lambo.the gets realy easy after first 3 races
Posted 16:32 on 17 July 2008
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Hacman

I just got this game tonight, have played it once and can't wait for the wife to go to bed so i can play again. I think it rocks and love just the free driving part and getting in and out of police chases, trying to see how many cops i can get to chase me. So far i have had 28 and am now going to beat that !!!
I would strongly reccomend this game to anyone.
Posted 21:29 on 23 January 2007
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mikmin@ Spiros

Totally agree Spiros! The control is totally transparent and precise, far better than any of the wheels I've ever tried. I guess I'd be faster with thumbsticks than the Wii mote, but I've been racing with thumbsticks for a long time now. Going back to PGR with thumbsticks felt like a step backwards.

The menu control should know that the wii mote is being held horizontally and switch the buttons round, that is the most annoying glitch.
Posted 17:58 on 29 December 2006
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Spiros

See what they do is like try 3 levels and make a desicion and thats not right i bought it and yer its hard to learn but like after 5 races or so and like learning how to actually use the remote u see how responsive and easy it becomes ive had it for 3 days and i drive like i would on any other console its so easy and precise Buy it u wont be disapointed. :)
Posted 17:57 on 28 December 2006

Game Stats

Need For Speed Carbon
6
Out of 10
Need For Speed Carbon
  • Decent visuals
  • Typical EA gloss
  • Pretty much a straight port
  • Wii controls aren't great
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 08/12/2006
Platforms: Wii , Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC , DS , PS2 , Xbox , PSP , GBA , Cube
Developer: Electronic Arts
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Racing
No. Players: 1-2
Rating: PEGI 12+
Site Rank: 943 3
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