7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Diddy Kong Racing DS Review


It’s time to look at a Nintendo racing game from a while back. Considering how successful F-Zero and Mario Kart are you may wonder why Nintendo would have another franchise right? Well, everywhere I go people seem to love Diddy Kong racing so maybe it really did tap into another part of the market. I will say that it is definitely pretty fun. Personally I wouldn’t put it on the same level as the other two titles, but it’s still pretty fun. The game isn’t particularly long but with a racing title the main incentive is the replay value here.

There is also a basic plot. A mysterious pig has broken an amulet and is causing a lot of terror around the planet. Diddy must now conquer four different areas in order to foil this plan once and for all. It may not be an easy task, but it’s one that he knows he must accomplish. Each world has 4 main levels and then you fight the boss. Once you beat the boss of the world then you unlock 4 more races which have you aim at balloons in the level. The first 4 levels are traditional races while the other four play out like an FPS as you don’t control the car, only the blaster. This lets you fight the boss again and then claim the amulet. So effectively each world has 8 levels and 2 bosses so you’re got 40 levels here if you count bosses. It’s a pretty reasonable amount but you’ll still have the game beat in under 3 hours.

The levels aren’t particularly difficult for the most part and naturally the levels aren’t too long either. The average race will take you around 2-3 minutes. There are 3 kinds of races. You’ve got the standard car races, the awesome plane races, and the sluggish hovercraft ones. The car races play out about how you would expect. You try to cross the finish line first and grab items along the way. There are 4 different items triggered by hitting a balloon. You know which balloon spawns which item so part of the fun is choosing what you want for each scenario. There’s also an incentive to not using the item right away. If you store away say a red balloon and then hit another one you get the second ranked version of the item. It’s worth experimenting until you find your favorite item. My favorite was double red since it gives you around 6 rockets.

The plane levels are the same way but you’re in the air which is a lot of fun. It feels like this kind of race is the fastest in the game in terms of how fast everyone is moving. There are a lot of boosters everywhere so use them as much as possible. Finally you have the Hovercraft levels which are just really slow and kind of clunky. It’s hard to turn in these and it is just not nearly as much fun as the other two. Something had to lose out I suppose, but I was glad that there weren’t a lot of these levels.

In terms of graphics the game is quite solid. We actually got some voice acting in the intro and the cutscenes flow really well. In game the assets load up promptly and everything looks clear. You certainly won’t be bumping into things just because you didn’t see them or anything like that. That would be understandably a bit iffy so I was glad that the game managed to avoid that. The soundtrack isn’t quite as memorable as Mario Kart’s but it was still pretty fun. There’s a good amount of variety based on what world you’re in and the level. The final boss theme was also very catchy although I got to hear it quite a bit.

While the game isn’t very difficult for the most part, the final boss is extremely tough. I don’t see how it would even be possible to defeat him without buying upgrades to your car. The guy is too fast and he pounded me into the ground many times before I was able to beat him. Ultimately I had to max out my car’s speed and acceleration and then I was able to keep up. It’s not like the level is all that complex. It’s pretty straightforward so I don’t see how you can play it any differently. You’re either able to out speed him and claim victory or you can’t.

As I mentioned the game is around 3 hours but there is a lot to do after the game. You have extra levels in each world where you need to find a key or do various achievements to unlock. The hub world is quite large so you can explore for a while and buying every upgrade will also take a super long amount of time. I wouldn’t say that there are any huge unlockables to look forward to, but at the same time if you enjoy the gameplay a lot then the game is giving you a fair amount of opportunities to keep on going. The value here definitely justifies the cost.

Overall, Diddy Kong Racing DS is a fun racing game. To me it felt fairly standard but with that Nintendo seal of quality. Just having 3 different options of racing does mean you have more options than your typical racing game and it’s a complete package. If you want to enjoy some good racing then you will definitely have fun here. The ending will also give you a nice challenge which is always good. If we do get a sequel to this for 3DS or Switch someday I’d definitely be down with that. The ending is also pretty fun as Pig gets one last laugh against the heroes.

Overall 7/10

Game Records

Diddy Kong Racing DS Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 3h 21m
Time Racing 1h 23m
Time Exploring 49m
Time in Car 1h 14m
Time in Hovercraft 38m
Time in Plane 27m
Race record 21-4
Balloons 37

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Jak X: Combat Racing Review


It’s been a long while since I played a Jak game so it was good to see the franchise once more. The racing game always looked like a lot of fun back in the PS2 era so it’s about time that I got to give it a spin. It’s a racing game that’s really worth a purchase because it has the best racing plot I’ve ever seen as well as the best soundtrack. It’s a blast and a half while also being a little longer than the average racing game. That’s a winning combination if I’ve ever seen one.

The game takes place after Jak II and the main characters are all invited to hear Krew’s final will and testament. Since the characters were all involved with his demise in one way or another they decide to attend. Everyone pours a drink and while Jak refuses at first, he decides to drink anyway when he sees that Krew’s daughter drank as well. Unfortunately his initial suspicions were correct as Krew explains in his recording that he has poisoned them all. The only way to get the antidote is to win the world grand prix on Krew’s team. The heroes don’t want to help this guy even if he is dread, but now their lives are riding on this outcome. The heroes swallow their pride and get ready to race.

There are quite a few subplots here in the meantime. On one hand you’ve got the TV announcer who is enjoying the races because he is earning a ton of money. They had all been fixed for many years so with the addition of Jak and friends it is adding some extra spice to the whole event. The gangsters are also watching the races closely since the winner of the tournament will have a very strong standing in the community. It should be noted that most of the people entering these races are gangsters and crime lords.

The actual gameplay is like a typical racing game but with an extra big emphasis on combat mechanics. You obtain many weapons as you go through the course which range from machine guns to rockets. You can also get defensive weapons like land mines and little turrets you can leave behind to blast away at enemies. Then there are boosters to power up your boost meter and little health packs. Usually you will have to choose what to go for as when you get to the item points in the race there will be an option to grab either a weapon or a booster for example. The items are pretty frequent so you can always just alternate or something like that. The best weapon in the game is the satelite as everyone in front of you instantly crashes. It’s an amazing item but one you won’t likely see very often.

My recommendation is if you’re in first place then always go for the defensive item or the booster. You can use any defensive item to block a rocket which is very handy and boosters help you stay in first. If you’re not in the lead then always go for the attack item since you want to be back up there as soon as possible. The races are about 4-5 minutes at times so you don’t want to lose since you’ll need to start it again. In each world you need to collect 50 points to play the Grand Prix. 1st place is worth 3 points, 2nd is 2, and 3rd is 1. SO if you get a lot of 1st places it’ll help you get through the game a little quicker. I never lost a Grand Prix so I don’t know if you’d have to replay the whole thing or not, but each Grand Prix is 3 races so that would be a lot to replay.

Not all stages are typical races though. You’ve got 4-5 other kinds of gameplay. You’ve got time trials where you run into clocks to keep your time up and you try to complete the stage as quickly as possible. Then you have Death Races where you have to blow up a number of cars before time runs out. There’s Traffic where cars will run at you and you have to run through them as you get to the end. Death Matches have you try to earn 10 points in eliminating other players. Then there’s Artifacts Race where you scramble to grab them before the other players and capture the flag where you try to get an orb into your base. There’s also booster mode where you’re at top speed and have to power up as many orbs as you can.

There’s a lot of variety here so the game has quite a lot to offer. It’s clear that this racing game had a lot of effort behind it. The graphics are top notch and I’m glad that they went to the trouble of adding so many cutscenes. It has more of them than the average platformer game which is pretty cool. Then you have the soundtrack which is great as there are a lot of rock themes. Every time you unlock a car you get a great tune and the stage themes are excellent as well. It really fits in with the game’s atmosphere.

The main story mode should take you around 7-8 hours I’d say. After that the main replay value will be trying to get all of the stars and maxing out each car. There’s not much reason to do the latter but I’m assuming you get something for doing all cars. Ironically powering up a car can backfire at times as it’ll go too fast and you’ll crash so my advice is to be careful with it. I did a lot of upgrades in the final world and it nearly cost me everything.

The writing here is top notch so all of the characters are entertaining. There are a lot of twists in the stories and a fun cast of characters. It’s nice to see all of Jak’s friends show up. Not all of them were the nicest to Daxter, but it’s hard to be when he’s always lying and you can’t tell if he’s on your side or not. The opening cutscene of the game is a good example of this as Daxter starts on one of his crazy adventures again. Jak’s appearance ends up hurting Daxter’s credibility, but it was already shot. You really have to experience the story to see why it’s so great. Jak’s the standout, but the reporter and Jak’s friends are also pretty entertaining. They all don’t tend to get along very well but in their defense, being poisoned does spoil the mood.

Overall, Jak X is a terrific game and it reminds me of why Jak is such a great character. He’s the best Naughty Dog lead for sure. Pretty much every line he gets in this game is terrific. He’s really not about to get intimidated the way a lot of others characters do when the villain shows up. Now that’s what I call talent. If you don’t have this game yet then you need to change that. It’s a lot of fun and really changes the way you think about racing games.

Overall 8/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Blur Review


It’s time to look at a racing game that made a lot of noise back in the day. There aren’t a whole lot of item based racing games and even fewer ones that go for a realistic angle. The only other one going on at the time was probably Wipeout. This game had been on my radar for a very long time so now was a good opportunity to finally pick it up. It’s a pretty fun game and having a straight forward arcade mode is nostalgic but I do feel like the game was missing something.

The main mode is the career and what happens here is you start off with the first chapter available. Each chapter has 6 races and if you complete extra objectives during these levels you will unlock the boss level at the end with an opportunity to unlock your opponent’s car. Each level has up to 7 stars that you can earn with 3 being the minimum that you need in order to clear the level. These stars are important because they are how you unlock the next chapters.

By the end of the game I got a little over half of the stars and unlocked all but the final chapter. It’s usually not too difficult to get up to 5 stars in a level but going beyond that is definitely a challenge. The game really wants you to ace the levels in order to unlock the final chapter. The star requirements are surprisingly high. Most likely you will need to replay levels a bit if you want to get to the end.

There are a few different gameplay styles to be found here. The one you will see the most is definitely the racing levels. These play out pretty much as you would expect with the goal being to get to the end of the level first. Along the way you will see the mini challenges. Some of these are “fan challenges” which are little icons that will give you an item and 40 seconds in which to use it properly. Then you’ve got the gates and the objective here is to go through them all in time. These give you a star for completion so do your best to clear them all.

As I mentioned earlier there are also items in this game so you will want to take those into account. There are a few basic items. First you have the booster which is self explanatory. Then you have the land mine which you can place behind you or fire in front at short range. It’s a pretty handy item and one of the best in the game. Of course you also have the energy blast weapon or the mini energy gun that can fire 3 times. The wrench item heals you back to full health which I think is a little excessive but it does make this the most valuable item in the game. There are certainly other items to be found but those are the main ones.

Other modes include Checkpoint which is really just a race with yourself as you try to get to the end of the level. These levels can be a little tricky to get the main 5 stars in, you will sometimes want to go for the booster instead of the clock if it’s more of a direct route to the goal. Then there is Knockout where the goal is to take down as many others cars as possible. There is no end to the level so you keep blasting cars until the timer runs out.

The graphics here are pretty solid. The levels have a lot of variety and the cars look great. There is a decent amount of customization like changing the color of the car without it being overwhelming. The soundtrack isn’t really anything to write home about but it supplements the game well enough. This game can be fairly long depending on how many tries it takes you to unlock the final chapter. That’s the thing with racing games, especially ones with items. In the end you just have to get really good at the fundamentals and hope no big item slams you in the end because it’s not like you can spend time farming enemies to get stronger. You do get fans win or lose which unlocks new cars so eventually you will get a car that gives you more of an edge which will be handy.

The campaign is fairly long on its own and the game has a lot of replay value through the PS3 trophies you can earn as well as the multiplayer option. You definitely don’t have to worry about not having enough content for your purchase. In general racing games have levels that can feel a little long since you’re so focused on the road and the other cars so as it is you’ll likely need to take quite a few breaks along the way. This is not the kind of game you can beat overnight in one shot unless you’re some kind of racing prodigy.

Overall, Blur is definitely a fun game. The items work out pretty well and the graphics hold up to this day. The level designs are solid and there are a lot of cars to choose from. I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a quick car game to play and don’t mind having the items to look out for. I tend to prefer the racing games without items but I still enjoy both kinds. Racing games in general are just pretty fun and this one is going for cheap now so it’ll be hard to get a better price than what it’s at. This is your chance to snag it.

Overall 7/10

7 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Love Bug Review


It’s time to look at a film with a car that is actually sentient. I’ve seen a few films with a similar premise but they tend to all be horror titles. This film looks at what would happen if the car was actually quite wholesome. The film definitely hits some bumps in the road, but overall it’s a pretty fun adventure that will grab your attention more than Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ever did.

The film starts with our lead Jim losing yet another race. He used to be a big race car driver but is now considered to be washed up. Jim tried to deny this but is slowly losing confidence. That’s when he has a fateful encounter with a car at a very pricey shop. The hero can’t afford this car but it shows up at his door the next day which does lead to the police getting involved. One thing leads to another and Jim uses the car on the track. He is finally winning again but is it his skills or the car’s?

Now the idea of a car being alive is pretty far fetched so you may cut the guy some slack for not believing that he is real…at first. The problem here is that Herbie proves himself many times with airtight maneuvers. Jim is pretty sure of himself with the whole “science can explain anything” routine but Herbie is too over the top for that to be true. I guess Tennessee’s plan backfires here as he should have let Herbie go wild after the upgrade to really prove that there was more to him than meets the eye. Even so, you’d think Jim would notice that the car was controlling the speed and always suddenly breaking records at the last second. Jim was nice to the car at first and then ditched him at the first possible moment.

It definitely makes Jim hard to root for and he goes from being a pretty reasonable main character to practically being an antagonist by the end. It may be a bit much to call him a villain here, but you’ll miss how he looks early on talking tough to corporate. His window shopping scene may have been foreshadowing for his character’s fall though.

The film is pretty long though and you could say that we get two full acts here. The bridge scene actually felt like the climax but really it was just the halfway point. The rest of the film is a very long cross country race as the heroes try to defend their honor and take home the gold. They all look quite terrible here though. For starters they somehow didn’t think to watch the car before the race. By this point they had already been duped and sabotaged several times so what’s the deal here? The villains had time to slash the tires, empty the fuel line, and substitute their extra tank with water. I dare say that the main characters deserved to lose after such a showing.

They basically left Herbie out to dry by not protecting him. We’ve also got the coffee scene where Tennessee allows the villain to walk in and pour a ton of coffee and whip cream into the car. Fortunately it lived through this but there shouldn’t have been this many close calls. If not for the sponsor looking out for them with his crew it really would have been game over at this point.

Herbie also seems to get nerfed towards the end of the film as somehow the main villain’s normal car is able to keep up. Keep in mind that Herbie was cartoon levels of fast in the beginning of the movie and that was part of the whole point of the film. Herbie is alive so he’s the fastest car around. I guess t just goes to show that a modern car can still keep up with a sentient one but I was surprised at how he kept getting passed over and over again during the race. He would get bumped off the road, lose a tire, etc.

I do gotta give the main villain Peter some props here because he’s a very solid character. His plans to get Herbie are really solid and the guy never gives up. He has plan after plan. Ultimately Peter is a businessman and just wants to be rich and famous. What adds an extra layer to his character here is the fact that he is a race car driver. He doesn’t mind getting up close to the action and putting his life on the line to win. Now that’s a solid villain right there.

The heroine Carole is also pretty solid. She doesn’t put up with Jim’s nonsense in the beginning as she turns him down at every corner and also does her best to prove that Herbie is a solid car. She worked hard to build up her professional reputation and wasn’t going to let some random joe get in the way of that. We get quite a few yelling scenes between the two characters and ultimately she definitely shows quite a lot of spirit. Carole’s also a talented mechanic and helps out when Peter tries his sabotage.

The writing is pretty solid here. The banter is great as always with just about all of the characters being extremely confident. Aside from the main hero and villain both constantly having a smirk at the ready and yelling out their sides in the debate, you’ve even got a cop running around with the same energy. He’s extremely sarcastic to the main character right away to the point where you have to assume that they’ve had some previous history. The scene is rather bizarre otherwise.

Overall, The Love Bug is an entertaining film. A talking car will never not be cheesy in this kind of context but it’s nice to have one on your side. It’s a shame that it can’t talk because that would make it a lot easier for the characters to actually establish a dialogue with it but I guess things would be too easy for them that way. If you haven’t seen this film yet then it’s a good one to check out. Watch the villain steal the show here.

Overall 7/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Stunt Race FX Review


It’s time to look at another classic Nintendo game from the good ole days. This one really got outshined by Mario Kart when it came out, but you can see some potential here. Ultimately there just isn’t a whole lot of content here and it feels like the kind of title you would play for a weekend. I’m a little surprised that Nintendo never revived this series, but I suppose they can’t revive everything right? The important thing is that you can now play this game for free with the Nintendo Switch Online selection which is certainly very convenient.

The main mode to play here is the traditional campaign. Each cup has 4-5 races and the goal is naturally to claim first place. The controls are very straight forward. You accelerate and brake as you try to get to the finish line. While there aren’t quite as many items as in Mario Kart you’ve still got enough to really get the upper hand here. An interesting part of the visuals is that your car actually seems to be alive. Don’t let this unnerve you while you’re trying to win. You don’t really need any tips on winning here since the levels aren’t all that complicated. Just keep your eye on the road and the rest will follow suit.

That being said, the game’s not completely polished. Unlike Mario Kart it can be a little hard to stay in full control of your vehicle. Sometimes you’ll hit the grass even when you think you shouldn’t have. It just isn’t quite in the same league as F Zero or Mario Kart. Still, you’ll gradually get the hang of it. After all even if the gameplay doesn’t seem quite right, it’s not like it changes so after a few levels you just auto-adjust.

I completed all of the standard cups here but after doing so you do have the option to play them all again on a higher difficulty. In terms of length beating the main cups will take you around an hour so if you beat them all on all difficulties I suppose you’ll be here for about 3. You can factor in a little extra time for when you take a loss though. It would be difficult not to lose at all in this game. I didn’t always get first myself, but as long as you have the highest point total at the end of the cup it still counts as your win. That’s the best part about a cup having multiple stages in it. There’s a little less pressure to play lights out the entire time.

In terms of graphics the game is okay. It’s going for a very quirky vibe which ages well, but you’ll still notice that there isn’t a lot of detail in the game. It’s enough to still be passable and you won’t be crashing, but it’s not all that pleasant compared to other titles. Stunt Race is treading a fine line here. Unfortunately the soundtrack isn’t enough to help it all that much either because it simply isn’t that memorable. I’m glad Nintendo tried out a lot of different racing titles, but at the end of the day you can see why this one never got all that big.

My only question after finishing the game is why they called it Stunt Race. It’s not like that other PS3 game I played where the whole point of the races was to get a lot of style points. The Mario Kart mobile game was more about that so it would have actually made more sense in that context. Maybe it’s the type of cars that are being used or something like that. It doesn’t ultimately matter much, but I was a little curious about it.

Overall, Stunt Race FX is a fun game. The only problem is that it just won’t last you all that long. You’ll play it for about an hour and then you’ll be ready to call it quits. It’s just really not made for long batches and that would be a problem if you had to buy it. Since the game is free it’s still worth checking out. I would definitely be up for an HD remake someday but of course they would need to add in a lot of cool features to make it worth my while. Maybe throw in a story mode of some sort and a few extra levels. Then you’ve got the makings of a fun game on your hands.

Overall 6/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

F Zero Review


The SNES Online continues to be a solid addition to the Switch console. There are just so many solid titles to play here and coming up there are titles that are basically full fledged games. Those are gonna take a little longer to complete but I’ll knock em all out eventually. This time we’re looking at F Zero and it definitely is a fun game while retaining the high difficulty level of GX.

There are 3-4 cups in this game and each one has 5 levels. My goal was naturally to beat each cup once to say that I’ve cleared the game. I believe there are other difficulty levels as well but it’s the same levels so clearing them wasn’t my highest priority. Each level is around 3 minutes so the game isn’t particularly long. You can likely beat all of the tournaments in the span of an hour. There is some replay value in beating your scores and beating all of the cups on all difficulties though. Do that and you really will be an F-Zero champ.

The gameplay is pretty smooth. This is a racing game do of course the goal is to drove your way past the finish line before any of the other racers. The levels have a lot of twists and turns so you will want to master the art of maneuvering to get through. The most difficult part of the game is actually keeping enough health to survive the levels. This is especially true in the later levels since bumping into anything will damage you and that includes other cars. An interesting part of the game here is that there are random cars crossing the track which will try to bump you and other racers do the same thing. The tracks aren’t very wide so it can be difficult to pass someone without hitting them.

There were quite a few times when my car blew up from the damage. I never had a problem passing the computers so this was a clever way to ramp up the damage. I can’t really say that it ever felt unfair so it was just right. The levels are also fast enough where retrying doesn’t seem all that bad. To an extent it is unavoidable to dislike retrying a cup in any racing game since that means replaying multiple levels but that is even more reason to keep them to 2-3 minutes instead of 4+ like in Need For Speed at times.

It’s definitely the kind of game where you can see the results of your practice right away. Learning when to turn and how to turn just right are crucial techniques here. There are two ways to turn as one is to just move the control stick while another is to use the L and R buttons. Both ways have their uses and if you master each then you will be prepared for anything the game throws at you. There is certainly the element of RNG here so it’s not like you will suddenly be perfect, but you can get quite close. At the very least by eliminating these areas for damage you will be in a better position to absorb the random hits.

The soundtrack here definitely holds up quite well. I feel like the SNES is really where Nintendo started to shine with their excellent soundtracks. Many of the tunes in this game would survive to Super Smash bros. The themes are nice and fast for the races. Then you’ve got the graphics which are admittedly less impressive. It’s pretty in line with Star Fox in that there isn’t enough detail to make it hold up with some of the others. Still, you can always keep track of what’s going on which is good.

Overall, F-Zero is a fun title. It’s short and so it won’t last you for very long but considering that it is free with the online that isn’t really a bad deal. I do miss this franchise so I’m hoping that Nintendo announces something for it soon. Just make it a proper sequel to GX with a good plot and I am confident that it will do well. If you haven’t played this one yet then you should change that.

Overall 6/10

Game Records

Need For Speed Carbon Stats and Records

Stats time!

Game Completion 45%
Career Completion 69%
Races Won 60
Races Lost 2
Cash Earned 876,600
Best Jump Air Time 1.65
Cars Unlocked 27
Cars Purchased 9
Tracks Unlocked 86
Safe Houses Found 4
Crew Members Hired 5
Pursuits Evaded 11
Times Busted 2
Longest Pursuit 5m 4s
Shortest Pursuit 15s
Spike Strips Dodged in one pursuit 5
Cars Rammed in a single pursuit 14
Total Cars Rammed 40
Total Cops Disabled 43
Total Cost to State 371,975
Total Infractions 25
Total Roadblocks Dodged 7
Highest Clocked Speedtrap 134mph
Bounty Total 81,000
Highest Heat Level 4

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Need For Speed Carbon Review


After a long break it is now time to go back into the world of Need For Speed. Carbon brings in a lot of familiar elements from Underground 2 and Most Wanted while also adding its own spin on things. I would consider this to be the best NFS in a lot of ways with the only thing I don’t like being the whole territory system. On the whole it’s also tough between this one and Most Wanted, but I would probably give this one the slight edge. It definitely does have the best story although the gameplay is naturally the deciding factor.

So you’re playing as an underground racer who was nearly caught by the police but managed to escape. Of course, the issue with this is that he had to desert everyone else to do it. Now the rest of the racers and even his old friend are pretty upset at him. It’s a rough time for our nameless lead and he gets sloppy enough to even let a bounty hunter catch him. Fortunately a “nice” gangster frees the hero and tells him that the only way to restore his rep is to go and take over all the various gangster territories in the city. I don’t know exactly how that makes sense…if anything that would make him seem even more like a jerk right? He comes back just in time to beat everyone up and get the cops back on the trail? Ah well, the hero likes the plan so that’s what we’re going with. As the game goes on it turns out that there may have been something more to this incident. Were the cops really just coincidentally in the area?

I liked the story because there are quite a few cutscenes and I do think it did a pretty good job of setting the stage. Each of the main mob bosses gets a very exaggerated cutscene where they yell a lot with crazy colors in the background. It’s got a very 90’s-early 2000s vibe which works really well with the Need For Speed franchise in general. You really just can’t go wrong with the story here. Most of the levels are at night which is cool, but you will find yourself missing the day time by the end. It’s always good to have a mix of both. When there are only day levels I miss the night themed ones and vice versa. I think the game would have done well to have included a nice mix. As for the soundtrack, you’ve got an array of EA songs as always. They’re pretty fast paced even if the lyrics aren’t anything to write home about.

As for the gameplay it is pretty standard. The driving is pretty good and you’ll get the hang of the turns as the game goes on. Personally I always found it easiest to quickly let go of the pedal and turn before slamming it again. Alternately you’ve got the hand brake by pressing A, but I always found the turns to be a bit too wide using that method. You can also brake to turn which I would use at times if I really had to make a sharp curve in time. They’ve all got pros and cons of course so you’ll just want to try everything and see what sticks. You can also buy turbo which will permanently give you the option to use boosts. One warning for that is once you activate it then the computers will obtain it as well. I’d say that it’s worth it though because the boost really comes in handy.

You start out with a pretty average car, but as the game goes on you will be able to buy new ones. I actually used the same car for most of the game before eventually buying 3 more by the end. It’s worth staying with one car for as long as possible since your new ones will get outdated very quickly and you’ll run out of money. As it stands I only got 3 cars and I was out of money at the end. Of course, the third car I got was the best one money could buy in the game by the end so it was well worth the price. It effectively is impossible to win the last races with a weak car since it is simply too slow. Even if you don’t make any mistakes you simply won’t be able to keep up with the opponent.

Then there are also the cops to worry about. If they catch you too many times then they’ll take your car away for good. If they take all of your cars then you go all the way back to the beginning of the game. I don’t know exactly how that works since I didn’t let them take away 1 car, let alone all of them. Hopefully you’d be able to quickly reset the Gamecube so you wouldn’t actually have to go back. That would be pretty devastating. Speaking of the cops, the game does have an open world as always so you can have fun getting into police chases. I didn’t play around with them much compared to the last games because this time you aren’t forced to stay in the city the whole time. Instead of finding races through free roam you can just warp to them from the safe house. This saves an incredible amount of time and is a great change. You also don’t have to worry about increasing your reputation or anything like that. This game finally gives you the ability to just focus on the races and claim them all.

Now, this wouldn’t be a Need for Speed game without some kind of pointless gimmick though. For Carbon it is the territory system. The way you advance past each world is to win a lot of races and then challenge the boss. When you beat him then you claim the area. The problem here is the fact that other teams can challenge you for the territories you took earlier. If you refuse to fight them then they take your area automatically. So get ready to have to fight these guys quite a bit in races that you’ve already won. I dunno, maybe it’s not all that bad but it felt like a quick way to extend the game a bit. It’s also not needed since the game is actually pretty long I’d say.

The main story should take you around 10 hours or more. For replay value you can go around and beat all of the levels that you had not conquered yet. Since you’re able to skip about 1/3 of the levels that should add on another 3-4 hours under your belt. In general free roam is also limitless fun as long as you just like driving which is the whole point anyway. I can’t say that I’ll be sticking around with this game, but maybe some day I’ll come back to do those extra races. I basically skipped all of the drift challenges since the controls for those are pretty wonky.

Finally, I should mention that in the story mode there are a few different kinds of events. The general gameplay is the same of course, but the objectives are different. First you’ve got normal races which are self explanatory. Then you’ve got Canyon Races which are usually 1 vs 1 races (it can be 4 way though) and they take place at night on a canyon. In these stages you can actually fall off the track which is an instant loss. I really liked how they handled these levels. You’ve also got check points where you’re doing a time trial, speed bumps where you want to go your fastest as the scanner steps in, etc. The only pretty iffy one is Drift and I avoided every single one of those. By the end of the game I hadn’t completed any of them and I’m glad that I didn’t. It would have taken forever for me to force myself to learn the controls which wouldn’t have been super efficient.

Also, you’ve got a partner for some of these races and he really comes in handy. There are a few different kinds of helpers like people who show you short cuts, help you boost, etc. I went for a guy who can ram into other cars to help you get a lead. It went over really well since the guy was great at his job. It’s part of why I got away with using a terrible car for so long. The blocker could buy you up to 20 seconds at a time which is huge in a race. I owe him a lot.

Overall, Need For Speed Carbon is definitely a solid title. The story ends a little too abruptly if you ask me. There’s really no payoff to the long detective journey and by the end you will definitely wonder what the point of the villain’s plan was. He would have been doing good if he didn’t bring the hero in to mess things up. I suppose it’ll just be a mystery. I actually don’t have the next Need For Speed so that’ll probably be a while, but in the meanwhile I do have another video game review coming out so keep an eye out for it. Meanwhile you should definitely check this title out. You’ll have a hard time trying to find a better racing game than this one.

Overall 8/10