The race types are fairly basic, with standard circuits, sprints and the excellent speed trap race carried over from Most Wanted. Drift challenges have also been thrown back into the mix, and these are most definitely the hardest to complete. Clearly EA has been watching the last instalment of The Fast and the Furious franchise, but unlike in the movie, drifting in Carbon is very difficult, just like in real life. The basic principles of sharp turn in, lift off oversteer and a generous handful of opposite lock are all present, but pulling that all off using a game controller isn’t that simple. There’s something terribly wrong when I find it harder to pull off a manoeuvre in a game than I do in a real car – perhaps it’s time that I invested in a steering wheel for my 360!
Where Carbon does depart from previous NFS outings is the canyon races. Once you’ve challenged a turf boss for their territory, you have to race them through the city, and then out of town in the canyon. The canyon races really get the adrenaline pumping, and it’s all too easy to crash through a barrier and into a 400ft freefall. A boss battle canyon run is split into two halves – first up you’re chasing them down the hill, trying your best to keep as close as possible. On the second run you’re in front and you have to put as much distance between you and them as possible. This is without a doubt the most challenging part of the game, but it’s still not too much of a challenge. And that’s the main shortcoming of Carbon – it’s just a bit too easy.
The problem with Carbon is that as long as you’re a half decent driver, you’re never going to lose a race. The AI just feels very basic by modern standards, and even if you start at the back of the grid, you simply hit the nitro, pass the pack and then cruise to first place. Obviously things get more challenging as you plough through the game, and you’re going to have to make sure that you have the right car, with the right mods to win some races. But in most cases you’ve saved up so much money from the early part of the game, that if you do find yourself outgunned, it’s just a matter of cruising back to the safe house, adding some more firepower and heading out to race again.