With the versions for Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, etc, being released here in New Zealand in November 2006 (and with a Wii version at launch, in December), is there any reason to now buy the PS3 version ? It's the exact same game as the Xbox 360 version (it was released at the same time in the States, after all).
Need for Speed Carbon is the latest in the career-centric driving series from EA. You choose your "car personality" at the start of the game by selecting whether your character is into Tuners (the boy racer style rides you see down the local strip on a friday night, often followed closely by the constabulary), Muscle cars (your classic V8 ride that is typically popular with west Aucklanders and other bogans) or imports (fancy, big ticket rides that don't need neons to stand out).
One of the very first experiences networked PS3 owners will experience is a series of questions / prompts and EULA screens. Before anything else. Questions like "do you want your game name to be the same as your online name?" then a bizarre pop-up that asks you for your "name" - no indication as to the implications of your choices here, no option to do it later. It's odd, it's disconcerting, and it's not Xbox Live easy.
Once you've got your ride, you're introduced via a cinematic to some sort of reason for racing some other racer type down a hill. I think he's trying to kill you. It's not very clear, and it's pretty unforgiving for a "first experience". This won't worry people familiar to the series but it's a bit of a "buhh wha??" moment for the uninitiated.
Get past that and you're into the game's tutorial mode, going around a circuit again and again whilst your wingman explains who and what a wingman is. Your wingman, it turns out, is another racer that races in events with you but instead of being against you, he will instead go out of his way to help you achieve victory. Neat! There are different wingmen available (for example, the drafter - get in behind him and you'll go faster), whom you can choose / hire and even choose their logo.
There are a vast array of events on offer, most of which take place in the streets of the city itself. However, new to the series is the canyon race event. These events are like "boss stages" in which you take on one particular contender in a man vs mountain downhill race, just like you'd expect to see in various anime or Fast & the Furious movies.
Car handling is a pretty basic affair - Gran Turismo fans this one isn't for you - but that doesn't really detract from the arcade nature of the title. This isn't a sim and doesn't pretend to be. Arcade fans: stress not, this aspect of the Need for Speed series hasn't changed.
Graphically it's a mixed bag: sure it looks pretty nice on an HD panel, but it's a mess of swimming pixels on your classic SD set - something most PS3 owners are still stuck with. The reflection model is pretty crude, too, showing the same slow moving lights reflected in the panels of your car no matter what you're actually driving past and at what speed. The textures are, for the most part, low resolution and nothing special. It does move very quickly, though - something which can make or break a driving game (particularly one that has "speed" in the name and at the core of its gameplay).
If you've already got this game on another console - particularly the Xbox 360 version - there's no reason whatsoever to get this version. If you don't, and you're a fan of the series - well, I'd still only buy this version if I didn't have a 360. Rumble rocks. Xbox Live rocks. Since the game's been out for a while you can probably pick it up cheap second hand or in a discount bin - rather than pay the $120 RRP on the PS3 (the RRP on the 360 version is $110). However, if you don't have a 360, this is worth considering. It's fast; it's deep; it's probably the best version of Need for Speed yet (so long as you can handle the 'boy racer vs cops' thread that runs through the series these days). Just don't expect something that's going to look incredible or really shows off the power of your PS3.