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Need for Speed: Carbon

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Need for Speed: Carbon is a multiplatform racing video game and the 10th installment in the Need for Speed series. It was developed by EA Black Box and published by Electronic Arts.

The game reimports night driving and features a large quantity of customisation options as seen in Need for Speed: Underground 2.

Need for Speed: Carbon's plot is a continuation of the events from Need for Speed: Most Wanted. It also uses several gameplay mechanics from the game such as the pursuit system.


The player has a flashback to a race on the night they left Palmont City whilst driving through a Canyon. Cross suddenly slams into the back of the player's BMW M3 GTR. It is revealed that Cross was fired from the Rockport Police Department for letting the player escape. Cross has now became a bounty hunter and hunts down the only blacklist member that was not apprehended.

Nfs carbon opening

The player crashes their BMW M3 GTR into a truck whilst attempting to escape Cross. Cross apprehends the player before they can get out of their car but another character known as Darius arrives in an Audi Le Mans quattro.

Darius is the leader of the most powerful crew in the game - Stacked Deck. Darius tells Cross to leave as he will 'deal with you'. In the background another character known as Nikki arrives in her Ford GT. Nikki is revealed as the player's ex-girlfriend.

The last time Nikki saw the player was in the race against Angie, Kenji and Wolf (at that point in time they wern't the crew leaders of the city). She was meant to give a bag of money to the winner but the race was interrupted by the PPD during the closing straight.

The player attempts to save Nikki but she is dragged away whilst she throws the money into the player's car. The only person to get out without being arrested is the player. Nikki hates the player for what happened on that night and is now a main member of Darius' crew.

Nfs carbon cutscene

She agrees to help the player start up their own crew in the city after instructions from Darius. Darius wants the player to help him remove all the other racing gangs in the city for Stacked Deck.

The player is given a car and a short tutorial. Darius tells the player to meet him at the City Courthouse after owning 3 of the 4 city districts.

Darius instructs Cross to arrest the player once they meet with him. Although Nikki pays the bounty to Cross after Darius leaves. Part of the arrangement is that Nikki races with the player. Nikki has also realised that the person who stole the bag of money, tipped off the cops to the race and only allowed the player to leave the ambush was Darius.

At the same time, Darius receives a call from an unknown source saying that Nikki freed the player from Cross. Darius prepares his 'motivated' crew. This crew consists of Wolf, Angie and Kenji in their new Tier 3 cars.

The player must race Angie, Kenji and Wolf in their new cars after owning the Stacked Deck territory. The player must race against them in the City and on a Canyon. The player is then allowed to face Darius after beating the combined efforts of the previous crew leaders.

Nfs carbon darius leaving

Darius hands over his Audi R8 Le Mans Quattro to the player, gives them some advice and then leaves Palmont in a Stacked Deck Jaguar XK after being beaten by the player.


Need for Speed: Carbon uses the EAGL3 game engine utilised in Need for Speed: Most Wanted with some slight modifications. The gameplay is similar to previous titles, although Need for Speed: Carbon introduced some new game features as well.

Need for Speed: Carbon takes place at night both in and around the fictional Palmont City which is split into four large districts. Each of these precincts has a unique setting.

Career ModeEdit

The career mode in Carbon greatly differs from previous titles. Players have the goal of taking over a metropolis called Palmont City with the help of their racing crew.

Territories of Palmont City are owned by four major crews as well as several smaller ones. Players need to challenge one of the bosses of the main gangs in the city in order to take over a whole district.


The player will encounter smaller crews that will randomly attack the player's and major crew's territories.

Boss Bonus CardsEdit

Similar to Need for Speed: Most Wanted, players may choose from a selection of hidden rewards upon defeating a crew boss. Four hidden cards with question marks appear along with two visual customisation cards.

The hidden cards include either the pink slip to the boss' car, coupons, additional credits or extra impound strike markers. These will be randomly selected and only two of these cards can be picked.

Free RoamEdit

Main article: Palmont City

Players are able to compete against AI street racers outside of race events.

It is impossible to start a race with them until one of them appears and stops near the player. These races are sprint races that can have their distance chosen by the player.

AI racers don't freely cruise around like in Need for Speed: Underground 2. They appear randomly and directly confront the player.

Race TypesEdit


Any race mode listed below is selectable in both Career and Quick Race Mode.

  • Circuit - Players compete with rivals in closed circuits with a set number of laps.
  • Sprint - Point A to Point B races. Sprint races in the city can be played by up to 8 players. Sprint races along a canyon route can be played by up to 4 players.
  • Checkpoint Race - Players have to pass a series of checkpoints before time runs out. Similar to the Tollbooth event featured in Need for Speed: Most Wanted.
  • Circuit Drift - Players have to drift along closed tracks to rack up points. Points are awarded based on the speed, angle and distance of the car during a drift. Drift multipliers are awarded for connecting drifts through turns and making 'perfect entries'.
  • Canyon Drift - Players have to drift along a Canyon route. These do not have the bonus zones and enclosed drift sections from the Circuit Drift races. Multipliers are awarded if drifts are held long enough through the turns.
  • Canyon Duel - Canyon Duels feature two stages; The first stage has the player chasing an opponent and the second stage has the player being chased by the opponent. The player wins if they perform better than the opponent.


  • Pursuit Knockout - Players begin a circuit race as racers. The last player to pass the finish line in each lap is changed into a cop car. The cops must then stop the remaining racers from completing the event.
  • Pursuit Tag - One racer has to evade several cop players. The racer becomes a cop once they have been busted by the cops. The best previously performing cop becomes the racer.

Challenge SeriesEdit

The Challenge Series in Need for Speed: Carbon is divided by difficulty and event type. Some events will reward the player with new vehicles for use in quick race and tuning parts.


Main article: Pursuit

The pursuit gameplay is identical to that seen in Need for Speed: Most Wanted although helicopters were cut from gameplay. Bounty no longer plays a particular role in the game.

Reward CardsEdit

Reward Cards are a series of unlockable vehicles, aftermarket parts and vinyls.


Need for Speed: Carbon was the first game since Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 to divide cars into tiers and design classes. It is also the first Need for Speed installment to feature a large quantity of classic muscle cars.
  • Tier 1 - Low performance capabilities
  • Tier 2 - Moderate performance capabilities
  • Tier 3 - High performance capabilities
  • Exotic - Highest top speeds
  • Muscle - Quickest acceleration
  • Tuners - Best handling

It is not possible for a player to equip any performance upgrades to increase a car's tier. Cars are only competitive and balanced with other vehicles of the same tier.



The customisation system seen in Need for Speed: Carbon has been greatly extended compared the system seen in Need for Speed: Most Wanted. The garage can be filled up with six cars independent of tier and design class, although they can be up to nine if the bosses' pink slips were rewarded. Part exchanges are no longer available.


Player's can purchase individual upgrade parts that are divided into three classes with fine tunable elements available before final purchase.


The game is the first one in the series to use an Autosculpt feature. Players can still purchase bodykits, rims and rear spoilers for their vehicles but also have the choice to buy single spoiler kits as well as modify them with Autosculpt.

Decals and vinyls can be rotated, coloured and moved anywhere on a car by the player without being restricted to certain areas.

Collector's EditionEdit

Nfs carbon collector's edition

The Collector's Edition is a limited special release of the standard game. It has an alternative cover art and is packed in a metallic package.

The Collector's Edition includes three new challenges, six additional race events, four exclusive vehicles, multiple pre-tuned vehicles and ten exclusive vinyls.

A making-of DVD is also included. All of these features are included in the Mac release of Need for Speed: Carbon as standard.

The digital release of the Collector's Edition also includes two ancillary cars and the Ultimate Performance Kit.



  • Need for Speed: Carbon is mainly inspired by the 2006 action movie The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. An important hint are the Canyon Duels which are strikingly similar to the final race in Tokyo Drift.
  • Need for Speed: Carbon re-imported the option for players to drive with a manual clutch.
  • There are some billboards and ads advertising the Mazda MX-5 although it is not included in the game.
  • The Tuner crew - Rotor 4 - utilises only tuner cars with a similar livery to that seen on the Mazda 787B.
  • Palmont's Downtown, Silverton, Fortuna and Kempton districts can be seen on the last leg of the final showdown against Darius in the "Eternity Pass" Canyon Duel event.
  • A police officer may consult dispatch about a street racer named Clarence Callahan as Need for Speed: Carbon uses a large amount of audio assets previously utilised in Need for Speed: Most Wanted.
  • Need for Speed: Carbon is the last Need for Speed title to be released for the Nintendo GameCube and the original Xbox. It is also the last to support the Windows 2000 and Windows ME OS.
  • The Plymouth Road Runner is the longest car in the game.
  • This is the only game in the series to be released for MacOS X.
  • All cars are available in Quick Race mode once the player reaches 100% completion.
  • The Wii release of Need for Speed: Carbon has the most limitations of any console release. The IS 300, MR2 GT-S, Europa S, GT3 RS and Roadrunner are only available in their respective Challenge Series events and have no Reward Cards. There are also several locked aftermarket parts that are impossible to unlock without cheats.
  • Scattered around within Palmont City are a few intangible Auto Zone retailers, Castrol Oil garages and Mazda dealerships.
  • There is an additional district known as San Juan. This is a district used for tutorials at the beginning of the game and offers three races in Quick Race. It is not accessible in Free Roam in normal gameplay.
  • There are 3 different types of fuels at the "G2" Gas Stations located in Palmont City; Regular, SuperDuper and "Arm And A Leg." The prices are $3.27 & 9/10, $3.37 & 9/10 and $3.47 & 9/10.
  • A newer model of the Subaru WRX Impreza is featured in the Nintendo DS release of Need for Speed: Carbon but it is not made available during gameplay.
  • The first hood vinyls consist of an alien, a Union Flag and a Tribal design in the Nintendo DS release.
  • The song Staggered Injection by Ekstrak, which is played when a race is led by an AI opponent using an Exotic car, reappears in Mass Effect 3 as a remixed version. It can be heard in the Purgatory club onboard the Citadel space station.

Easter EggsEdit

  • Players can unlock a special Mazda RX-8 for use in Quick Race events by visiting and purchasing it from a Mazda Dealership found in the Billings District of Downtown Palmont.

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