Need for Speed Carbon

Game review by
Andrew Bub, Common Sense Media
Need for Speed Carbon Game Poster Image
Mean, nasty street-car racing, not at its best.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 33 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive messages

Lawlessness is very cool here. The game glorifies illegal acts beyond street racing and a video warning at startup reminds kids and parents not to try this on their local streets. No consequences for bad behavior are ever shown.


Cars crash a lot but never really get damaged. Often slamming into a rival is the only way to win!


Some flirting, mild innuendo.


Criminals imply threats.


The cars are all based on real sportscars. A lot of emphasis is put on spending money to "trick" cars out.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

What 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.

User Reviews

Adult Written byM&M April 9, 2008

Criminal behavior encouraged

I was simply shocked to see that you are encouraged to trick and avoid cops. In fact, after seeing a police car flip over, the game cheers you on further. I h... Continue reading
Educator Written byRedburn February 28, 2012
Teen, 16 years old Written bythebizent April 9, 2008

Be careful...

It's a fun game, but with a bad message. I think it's for mature teens who know that it's a bad idea to break driving laws.
Kid, 12 years old March 13, 2011

good for any age.]

I think that this game is appropriate 10 and up. Its fun and a little edgy. If kids have 1% common scence, they will be fine. Sex and language aren't probl... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • 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?

Game details

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