Slightly diluted latest installment of the urban speed thrills.
In the lazy, predictable world of gaming sequels, innovation is something to be cherished. But while the latest Need For Speed works hard to evolve the basics of this million-selling series, the new features only serve to water-down its outrageous city scrambles.
Unlike previous NFSs, Carbon allows players to call on members of an illicit racing posse for help as they rocket around the urban courses, your crew including blockers who hinder your rivals, drifters that help you to pull off speed boosts, and scouts who spot hidden short-cuts. However, while extending the experience beyond your own motor is great in theory, the blockers make for chaotic, often unplayable races, the drifters are impossible to use on the twisting courses, and the scouts only ruin the smug sense of achievement when discovering a sneaky route for yourself.
The cop-baiting of NFS: Most Wanted has also been played-down, the developers inexplicably removing the feature that made the last installment such a thrilling ride. And while the out-of-town canyon races add variety to the mix, the fact you can drive off the edge of cliffs to certain death doesnt sit well with the rest of the games flat urban courses.
Carbons dramatic sense of speed, licensed cars and slick graphics (especially in the Xbox 360 version) are still worth a punt if youre unfamiliar with NFS, but anyone addicted to the series will be frustrated by the unwarranted extras.