Need for Speed Carbon
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this game features illegal street racing and most of the trappings found in "pimp my ride" culture: Everything is neon, everyone sports an attitude, and lawlessness is "cool." A lot of emphasis is put on spending money to "trick" cars out with cool accoutrements. The game glorifies illegal acts, to put it lightly, and EA is aware of this. They've included a video warning at startup, reminding kids and parents not to try this on their local streets.
What's it about?
In NEED FOR SPEED CARBON, players assume the role of a racer with a checkered past. The story challenges you to take over the fictional town of Palmont City one borough at a time (or defend what you've taken) by tweaking your car, picking the right wingman to mess with rival cars, and winning races against rival gangs. The focus is on arcade-style racing -- cars never get damaged and stay glued to the road -- but there's a strategic layer that makes the game feel deeper than your average racer. A new concept, "wingmen," allow you to have a computer-controlled car help you win races by messing with rival cars (by blocking, bumping, or harassing them).
Is it any good?
The graphics are beautiful, offering a wide variety of city streets and twisting, turning canyons to race in. All races take place at night, which gets boring after a while, but the neon and headlight effects are often stunning -- particularly when you watch a replay of a race.
While the addition of wingmen is cool, their practical effect is that they make the game too easy: As a consequence, initially, moderately experienced racers will win most races. However, that winning streak will come to a screeching halt when faced with Boss races, intense competition where you can actually win territory, because those races are incredibly hard and frustrating. Need for Speed Carbon would have been a better game if the developers had found a happy medium between these two levels of racing difficulty.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about why safe driving is important and why people should never participate in street racing in real life. Parents might want to remind kids that this game has an unrealistic lack of consequences. Families might also want to discuss the racing car culture -- why does it have such a strong pull? Why do people have such loyalties to different types of cars?