Reviews// Need For Speed: Carbon (Wii)

Using your hand as a foot

Posted 14 Dec 2006 15:00 by
When I was first charged with reviewing Need for Speed: Carbon for the Wii I was disappointed. Anything that takes away from my incessant Zelda/Wii Sports/Rayman regimen is assuredly a bad thing. To my great surprise however, I actually found the game to be quite enjoyable in spite of itís absurd ďFast and the FuriousĒ story scenes.

Much like when the DS initially launched, few of the Wiiís launch titles really do the system justice. There are a few high points, like the aforementioned Rayman and sports, and of course the gussied up Game Cube game that is Zelda:TP, but mostly its just cheap cross-platform crap that only barely uses the Wii Remote in any worthwhile way. Imagine my surprise then, when after several hours of play I still found myself compelled to keep playing NFS:C instead of swapping it out for one of my current favorites. Not to say that it trumps any of the other titles I listed, but it was just fun enough to keep me from turning it off, a substantial feat when considering my other options.

Itís not the graphics, or bizarre FMV story, but the controls that kept me interested. Not only did I spend hours sampling the different control methods the Wii allows, but I also had a ton of fun racing once I found a favorite.

There are two main configurations available, Classic / Excite Truck style, where just the Remote is used: griped like a steering wheel and tilted side to side, the buttons used for gas and break. Then thereís the Nunchuck attached options wherein the Remoteís motion sensing is used to manage gas and break and the Nunchuckís sensing controls the steering.

Using your hand as a foot might seem counterintuitive, but try looking at it like using one hand to steer and the other to manage forward/reverse and all other options. This feels a good deal more like actual driving than any controller method ever before.

The game itself is a competent racer, nothing more. The open environments are nice but nothing that hasnít been going on for the past several years. Handling is fine, a nice mix of realism and arcade thatís easy enough to pick up and play but rewards practice and skill. Basically if youíve played an NFS game in the past 5 years youíll feel right at home here.

Since the Wiiís online component is still inoperable and only two-player split screen is available, the single player is really the focus of the game. Some of you who played last years Need for Speed: Most Wanted are already familiar with EAís unique method for story telling in the series. For the uninitiated itís basically a collection of first-person perspective videos comprised of FMV and in-game graphics. One would assume this would look like total bunk, but all the live-action characters are glossed over, and over-saturated so much that they blend in with the plastic looking car models miraculously well.

The story is passable considering how tertiary it is to the actual gameplay, but judged on its own merits itís rather generic and doesnít really serve to inspire continued play. Basically you used to be a street racer in Carbon Canyon. The cops caught several of your crew. You escaped and disappeared for a while. Now youíre back, and as extreme as ever, for Ďrealzí. Ugh.

Anyway, the cut scenes are well put together, the acting is lame but not as painful as I had anticipated and, in spite of its averageness, the FMV makes the game worthier of the admission price than many of its current competition
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