Need for Speed Carbon

Monday 17 July 2006
Earlier today we brought you the latest on Need for Speed Carbon's new features, but now we can give you the lowdown on how it plays after a session behind the wheel with EA's mod-happy racer on Xbox 360.

First, the bad news. Though Carbon's array of autos looks fantastically smooth in 360's mega-sharp hi-def, the rest of Need for Speed's world hasn't been given the same quality finish. The city track we raced was an uninspired experience, with lazy turns and a dull-looking environment. The good news is Carbon's brilliant new canyon races.

Above: Fans of brute force and fudgy steering can stick with the American road-hogs

Canyon tracks are follow-the-leader challenges. Earn points by following closely in the first race; defend points by leading in the second event. They're far more exciting races, with the sheer cliff-edge racetrack demanding daring but precise driving, and if you drop too far back you'll lose automatically.

These death-trap racetracks are staging grounds for Carbon's other new feature - battling for territory. The huge city environment is split into three sections, each designed around one of the three car types: Muscle, Tuner or Exotic. By gaining a reputation and winning canyon races, you'll be able to take control of new areas and add new crew members to your team.

You line up alongside crew members in certain races, and they all have different skills. Blockers hassle and attempt to spin your opponents; Drafters let you slipstream them to gain speed; while Scouts find shortcuts and show you the best line through a course. Carbon now has up to eight rival drivers in a match, so you're never short of targets for your buddies.