My Love/Hate Relationship with NFS Carbon

If you’re on my Xbox Live friends list or have been following my Flickr activity, you know I’ve been logging some decent hours in Need for Speed Carbon. I actually had no intentions of picking this game up until post Emergence Day. But when I saw them stocking the shelves at EB with it, I just had to have it. For the first couple evenings, I was having an absolute blast! I’ve been uploading lots of screenshots using the in-game Photo Mode and even started a NFS Carbon Flickr Group specifically for them. By the time I reached about 50% completion in the single player career, the awesomeness was starting to wear thin and tediousness was creeping in. WTF happened?

NFS Carbon

Some quick background on the basic gameplay structure – There’s a “world map” divided into quadrants. Each quadrant is controlled by a rival “crew” and has it’s own segments which contain 2-3 events. As you complete races and “take-over” segments, you unlock upgrades and new cars become available for purchase. Unfortunately, car unlocks are few and far between until you reach about 65%. So much so, that I’ve ended up using my RX-8 (picture above), which was the first car I was given until I reached 60%. At which point I purchased a VW Golf R32 simply because I wanted a change. Shortly after, the Lotus Elise, Aston Martin DB9 and Porsche Cayman were unlocked within a 4 event span. Needless to say, unlocking new cars is hardly balanced. While this is something I found annoying more than anything else, it’s not enough to make me hate the game at times.

I started to feel the hatred when I opened up the fourth quadrant. All of the sudden I’m up against tier 3 cars and all I have available are tier 2 cars and tier 2 upgrades. You have to beat the events in quadrant 4 to unlock the tier 3 cars/upgrades. So these races are pretty challenging. Definitely not impossible, but a definite jump in difficulty. I tried my hand at one event in particular a half dozen times last night before retiring for the evening. First thing this morning I picked up where I left off and was determined to beat it. Sure enough, within only a couple tries with my recently purchased Lotus Elise, I beat it. Awesome, now I can move on! When I return to free roam, a message pops up stating “your territory is under attack!” This means that an event I’ve completed is being reclaimed by a rival gang and I can either defend it by doing the event over and winning, or decline and give it over. This is a little tedious as you’re simply re-doing races you’ve already won, except this time you only get 5-10% of the cash you initial took for the win. I’ve come to expect this as I seem to be re-doing events after nearly every newly completed event. Problem being – this time the event I have to re-do is the one I just finished! The same event I couldn’t complete last night and the same event I had to purchase a new car to win. I couldn’t believe I got shafted that bad. I jumped into the event figuring I could whip it off again no problem, except this time the cops intervene almost immediately, making it near impossible to complete – it’s a Speedtrap, for those wondering.

At this point, the fun meter is nearly empty and all I’m left with is a tedious experience of having to struggle with my inadequate car and having to constantly re-do events. So, where am I going with this? Checked the Xbox Live Marketplace lately. Never one to disappoint, EA has released another batch of cheats, this time for NFS Carbon. Among the cheats are all of the performance upgrades and 3 cars. At least one of them being a tier 3. Could it be that the lack of car unlocks early on in the game and the sudden increase in difficulty is a ploy to get people to buy this “downloadable content?” I’ll let you decide. But I’d love to hear from someone who’s been playing NFS Carbon on another platform. I’m curious to see if it all pans out the same. I guess that would be the deciding factor.

I wonder if EA is paying attention or if they’re going to just keep on with this nonsense? Just read the first dozen or so comments on Major Nelson’s post. These are the die-hard fanboys of the Xbox 360 and they don’t seem to be too stoked on these moves by EA. I think it’s total bullshit and I’m completely disgusted by it. I can see where this would come in useful to some, but the fact that some of these cheats that you have to pay $4-$10 for are included in the same game on other platforms in ridiculous. Pure gouging. I don’t know if this is the case with NFS Carbon, but I know it is with The Godfather.

Anyway, it’s starting to feel like the gaming experience is suffering so the publisher can make some extra coin. And that my friends, is where the line has to be drawn. It’s almost to the point where I’m not going to purchase EA games and simply rent them instead.