Generally favorable reviews - based on 52 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 52
  2. Negative: 0 out of 52
Buy On
  1. 95
    Carbon almost always manages to feel as finely tuned as any of its high performance sleds, and with downloadable content on the way, it seems safe to think that it'll be an adrenaline generating favorite for a good long while.
  2. Carbon is another great racing game for the 360 and it’s awesome to think that in just one year our beloved console has already seen two of these games.
  3. 88
    So close to being a legendary entry to the NFS series but crew racing hampers it down. AI should never win a race for a player.
  4. It’s a shame that EA decided to drop the intense cop chases from Most Wanted. Carbon is still a very addicting game even though the drift races don’t work quite as well as they should.
  5. By allowing gamers to adjust nearly everything on their car, from the width of the spoiler to the height of the blower on that ’69 Charger, Carbon allows gamers to truly make their ride their own.
  6. The story element whilst interesting did feel very pantomime to me as a lot of hard talking was uttered during the cinematic moments and I often felt that these hard talking people would probably be better off bringing out shotguns and Uzis rather than taking to the streets to settle differences.
  7. The city’s sections felt too similar to each other. I admit, I don’t have all the answers on making a perfect open-world racing title, but Carbon falls short in this area. Don’t worry though, the speed in this game is enough to outrun such criticisms.
  8. Pelit (Finland)
    Need for Speed Carbon has fast and furious races. Tuning is fun, but it does not have much of an effect on racing. [Dec 2006, p.82]
  9. Far from being revolutionary, and just shy of even being considered an evolution of the series, Carbon exists in that dubious realm of being simply a largely unnecessary annual update.
  10. Need For Speed Carbon takes the lead among next-gen street racers.
  11. 82
    The drifting is an acquired taste (but it's good), the canyon duals are decent changes (though not great), and the crews...well, they suck. Of the myriad new features, the addition of muscle cars and the online functionality are the best.
  12. You might hate that series – you might think the third Furious is the worst movie ever made. But mark my words, if you’re flipping through and it’s on TV, you will drop the remote, grab your 360 controller, and play this game.
  13. For attempting to satiate the entire racing game populous with a single title, EA has done a pretty fine job. Would a super-mega tuner game have been a better move? Would a follow-up to the pursuit-style racing of "Most Wanted" have made more sense? Maybe and maybe.
  14. Ultimately, despite the new setting, storyline, and structure, Carbon does not represent a major departure from its predecessor. Sadly, the few major gameplay additions hurt the core experience, especially the poorly executed crew system.
  15. 80
    The new goodies aren't all winners -- the wingman concept didn't bowl me over, paying instead of playing to unlock extras bites -- but there are enough innovations that work to make this feel like more than just an updated version of an old and successful game.
  16. There’s a heck of a lot more competition out there. But, what they do, they do very well. It’s a fun arcade racer in single player and a blast of an arcade racer online.
  17. Official Xbox Magazine
    This NFS definitely isn't in the same league as last year's superb Most Wanted. But despite its misfires, Carbon has a lot of great action and intriguing ideas that, with properly calibrated expectations, will be a blast for fans of the series' trademark arcade racing. [Holiday 2006, p.72]
  18. The final say from this reviewer is if you love racing, combined with stellar graphics, and some very impressive new features that will have you playing till the sun comes up. Then Head out to your local store and pick up a copy of Need For Speed Carbon. Definitely a must buy.
  19. X-ONE Magazine UK
    Apart from the customisation, the wild choice of races, the territory slant and the team-mates, this is bloody good fun. Everyone from casual racers to hardcore petrolheads should try it. [Issue 13, p.86]
  20. 80
    A gorgeously fast racer, with plenty of compelling action and a surprisingly meaty single player game.
  21. EA takes advantage of the drifting craze with a new NFS street racer, and backs that up with the team play and solid online mode.
  22. A great addition to the series for fans and probably a decent rental for most. While things have been upgraded and new elements added on, it’s still NFS and it still gets repetitive and boring after awhile. It’s like EA's "Madden" of racing.
  23. The whole street racer theme is getting worn into the ground as well. But with a high-class presentation to its credit and numerous online options available via Xbox Live, Need For Speed Carbon is quite an alluring ride.
  24. So what if Carbon isn't redefining the street racing genre - really, at this point, what could? It hits a sweet spot of intensity, danger, and style.
  25. Games Master UK
    Despite the crude damage, the empty roads and elementary physics, you don't feel that the 360 is really being tested, and neither are you. Nevertheless, NFS: Carbon is a lot of fun, but it's very flawed too. [Dec 2006, p.88]
  26. There is nothing remarkable about it, but Carbon will provide some good fun with its Career Mode and great online options.
  27. The fleshed-out story is a nice touch, and the head-to-head canyon races are a hoot, but with so little content it’s hard to recommend as a purchase unless you’re spending your nights on deserted pieces of road looking for some action.
  28. A solid racing game. It might have a few rough edges and frustrating spots, but overall it’s a fun game.
  29. Speaking of parts, this brings me to one of my biggest pet peeves of this franchise. Why must I unlock a part and then have to buy it? Seriously I don’t care if you make me do one or the other, but both is downright ridiculous.
  30. Even though the wingman mechanics and canyon races don't quite pan out, it's still a stylish and enjoyable street racer.
  31. It's a solid racing game that could have used some next-gen boost.
  32. In the end, this race is barely a race at all. The 360 is the winner by a mile, and for the price of those wheels, no doubt it should be. The Xbox comes in a distant second with fewer cars and none of the cool online modes. And trailing way behind that is the PS2, a run-down jalopy that probably shouldn’t even be on the road.
  33. 75
    While Carbon is peppered with clever little ideas, ultimately it falls victim to EA's insistence on annually iterating the franchise. It refines previous ideas but lacks that big "wow" factor we've seen in the past. It's thoroughly, thoroughly competent and shouldn't be overlooked, but it really is "Need for Speed Again."
  34. Don’t get us wrong it’s still highly playable but it’s not vastly different enough to warrant another purchase if you already own Most Wanted.
  35. Electronic Gaming Monthly
    It's great fun and forces cooperation unlike any other racer. [Dec. 2006, p.132]
  36. Regardless of that feeling of déjà vu, Carbon is another solid racer from EA, and the Auto-Sculpt feature is absolutely fantastic, not to mention the impressive car roster and functional online component.
  37. What the series needs is not useless gimmicks and badly rehashed game mechanics, but good, old-fashioned racing fun. We don’t need customisable bells and whistles; what gamers really want is a Need for Speed that uses its strengths, and doesn’t try to shoe-horn in its weaknesses for the sake of bullet points on a press release.
  38. 70
    The game hasn't changed that much, but it didn't really need to. Pure arcade fun.
  39. NFS Carbon as a game on its own is extremely well done but in the context of the previous two games, it simply doesn't separate itself enough.
  40. games(TM)
    Carbon is bigger and prettier than its predecessors, but due to a lack of compelling new features it only feels marginally better. [Christmas 2006, p.128]
  41. While it isn't a revolution in racing design, it's a good game with a lot to do.
  42. 70
    One notable difference is that the frame rate is a lot better than it was in "Most Wanted." But the price you pay is graphics that are considerably worse. Carbon is missing atmosphere. You're still driving through the game strangely un-populated city, but it's got a lot less detail and ambient effects.
  43. 70
    Although it doesn’t do anything revolutionary or ambitious at all, it’s a solid arcade racer to last some cold winter afternoons until the more ambitious games like "PGR4" and "Forza 2" come along, and it has all the classic Need for Speed feeling about it you either love or hate. I must admit I liked it despite its obvious shortcomings.
  44. A backward step from last year's release. The fact that it's less challenging may make a lot more accessible to the mass market audience that it's so desperate to pander to, but the net result is that it's also, on balance, a slightly less exciting and enjoyable game.
  45. There's plenty to do and the sheer size of the city will keep you busy for weeks. But Carbon's new features don't stand out enough to make it warrant an immediate purchase if you've already raced through Underground 1 and 2, Juiced or Midnight Club.
  46. The extensive single player mode, backed up with strong multiplayer support, and some exciting, enjoyable arcade racing make Need For Speed the safe choice it always is. It’s still good distance from a classic, it’s not the best in its genre, but it is damn good fun.
  47. A surprisingly different Need for Speed, but at the same time all too familiar. With several new ideas, the typical sensation of speed and hot pursuits ultimately ensure Need for Speed: Carbon feels largely the same as everything that's come before in the series.
  48. There is enough to please everyone, but don't expect to be wowed by anything new or revolutionary, yet it still doesn't take away from the fact this is a solid racing game.
  49. 65
    Testing out the new additions and playing around with the new options is more than mildly diverting. However, after a while the tediousness of the city-scape and the simplicity of the driving model conspire to make one think of the other things that could be done with the time.
  50. Edge Magazine
    Need For Speed seems like it would benefit from choosing a priority to stick to: be either a rowdy pursuit rampage or a lustrous street racer unbothered by traffic or law enforcement, as mixing both can leave it feeling much less than the sum of its generously many parts. [Christmas 2006, p.89]
  51. A lazy effort. Xbox Live play is poorly implemented and those seeking online racing are better off trying the PC version.
  52. Whilst there are some really good ideas here, Carbon feels too unbalanced as a package – too many bells and whistles attached to an average racing game. Roll on next year’s instalment.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 84 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 41 out of 84
  2. Negative: 21 out of 84
  1. Dec 26, 2011
    Amazing game. Probably the only racing game ever created worth playing. It had great handling and a great backstory behind the game. The carsAmazing game. Probably the only racing game ever created worth playing. It had great handling and a great backstory behind the game. The cars were great, customization was unreal. All around amazing game. Full Review »
  2. FrostManMike
    Feb 23, 2009
    This is one of the worst racing games i've ever played. Compared to Most Wanted, they took 1000 steps back. The only half way cool This is one of the worst racing games i've ever played. Compared to Most Wanted, they took 1000 steps back. The only half way cool aspect of the game is the auto sculpting the body kits. Other then that, the controls suck, visuals suck, and the game play sucks. A complete waste of a game. Full Review »
  3. BobS.
    Nov 1, 2006
    Great fun! Definitely a 10.