Need for Speed Carbon - Own the City Review by: EideticMemoryTry to Remember...
One year after the release of its popular predecessor Need for Speed: Most Wanted
, this game was released. Although many of us were looking at it for the PSP and NDS by this point, EA did release a port for the GBA.
Released in 2006, Need for Speed Carbon: Own the City
features a plotline where the main character, controlled by the player, works with teammates within races and tries to solve the mystery behind a car crash that killed his brother and left himself in the hospital with severe memory loss.
Despite the marketable improvements upon Most Wanted
, gameplay issues makes this game slightly worse.
Let’s dive in to see why.
Improved Graphics, Yet Particular Faults Persist - 8 / 10
While the 3D layout of Most Wanted
left us wondering whether the graphics had in fact reached the full potential of the GBA, the designers continued to surprise us by introducing even finer detail into the maps. On the other hand, the open layout and courses aren’t impressively better than in Most Wanted
and they share many of the same faults.
One of the most prevalent of these faults is approaching turns. Until you’ve played the course several times or become adept at using the minimap, the turns approach much too quickly for you to decide which direction you need to go. If it’s your first time on the course, you’ll likely hit the wall while turning or go the wrong way into a dead end cavity. Trust me, it’s a terribly annoying way to lose a winning race.
One nice improvement in the graphics was the remaking of the HUD. It interferes less with vision, both by its compactness and transparent background. The fonts are much clearer and the HUD only fills up two corners of the screen, whereas before you had to learn to watch three corners while also looking at the road.
Just like before, the designers did a really impressive job for this particular console, and the added improvements, while not comprehensive, do push this category’s score close to the top.
8 / 10
Garbled Gangster Rap Music, but Other Improvements - 6 / 10
Most find repetitive music annoying, and for the most part, I do too. Yet in Most Wanted
, I thought it fit perfectly and wasn’t that terrible at all.
Here in Own the City
, on the other hand, there -isn’t- repetitive music, but I’d bet that most who hated the music in the last game, would prefer that to this one’s terrible music. It’s gangster rap, and while I have nothing against that in itself, the lyrics are garbled, and the music quality was really affected by its compression.
In-race sound effects have improved. While it’s still hard to hear the music behind the loud engine, the engine actually sounds like its supposed to, versus it sounding like a bunch of noise that makes you mute the game without a second thought. That might be a slight exaggeration, but the difference in quality let me keep my volume up without being that bothered by it, whereas I could not do that before.
Other sound effects don’t have much improvement, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were simply grabbed from the previous game. But as the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
6 / 10.
Addictive - 6 / 10
Once you get into it, this is an addictive racing game. It definitely upholds that reputation for addictiveness that Need for Speed
games are known for. However, particular changes make gameplay more frustrating, and that definitely detracts from the addictiveness.
It doesn’t have as steep a learning curve as Most Wanted
, which is an improvement. It’s easier to get hooked onto this one, especially with the added plotline. While the plot is secondary to the game, it does make you want to keep playing.
6 / 10.
Mystery Awaits - 7 / 10
There’s a clear plot to the story with vivid pictures, text, and sound effects in between races. During a race, your brother crashes and you hit a truck, landing you both in the hospital. Your brother dies and you lose your memory. Morbid, right?
Still, your friend Sara reminds you of who she is and for some odd reason decides to put you behind the wheel of her car to get back in shape. As it turns out, she was your brother’s girlfriend and has reason to suspect that the crash wasn’t by accident. You keep racing with these teammates as support, trying to find the truth behind your brother’s death.
For a racing game, it’s definitely impressive to have such a story, whereas most racing game don’t have a real plot at all.
7 / 10.
Little Depth - 4 / 10
You play in a linear fashion in Career mode, going from one activity to the next. That’s less freedom than in Most Wanted
and results in less depth. There’s about the same variety of minigames as before, except with new additions such as an interesting race “hunting” minigame.
Overall, NFS Carbon: Own the City
had less gameplay than its predecessor, lowering this category’s score.
4 / 10.
Easier, but Not Really - 8 / 10
Control issues are the archenemy of any racing game fan. Most Wanted
really set itself apart from other GBA racing games with its easy-to-control cars. However, this release is inferior in my eyes, and that’s due to the addition of drifting.
While the designers were hoping to improve the race experience, they instead made switching directions very difficult. If you’re about to turn left and realize that you need to turn right, trying to switch only makes your car drift uncontrollably into a wall and, in most cases, costs you the race. There are a few instances in which drifting is actually helpful, and even then I’d rather have it as a combination of buttons, versus how it is currently.
On the other hand, the opponents are much easier than in the last game. Now, you don’t need to rely on many tactics, and being adept at turning is often the most important skill for winning. You’ll still need to play through each course a few times so that you don’t crash often, but a single wall slam isn’t enough to lose. This is a clear reduction in difficulty from Most Wanted
, where a lack of tactics would leave you thirty seconds or more in the dust.
So while AI difficulty was reduced, the addition of drifting makes controlling your racecar much harder.
Check it Out - Overall: 6.7 / 10
Graphics : 8 * 25% = 2.0
Sound / Music : 6 * 25% = 1.5
Addictiveness : 6 * 25% = 1.5
Story : 7 * 5% = 0.35
Depth : 4 * 10% = 0.4
Difficulty : 9 * 10% = 0.9 (Optimal difficulty was 7/10)
Sum = Overall Score = 6.7 / 10.0
was 6.8 / 10.0)
In conclusion, this is a really nice game for the GBA, but it is slightly worse overall than its predecessor. For every step up in improvements, there was also a step down. When it comes down to it, I would rather play Most Wanted
than Own the City
, but for others it really depends on what you look for in a racing game. If you’re willing to sacrifice better control over your car for a nicer graphics and a cool plot, then you might find this one more to your liking.
But either way, you’re looking a great racing game that’s definitely worth trying out if you’re looking for neat titles on GBA.