Need For Speed: Carbon

Key events

Xbox 360 vs. PS3: Multiformat Face-off

Digital FoundryXbox 360 vs. PS3: Multiformat Face-off

We compare and contrast the PS3's 360 ports.

The delayed European launch has left the PlayStation 3 with something of a problem - a sizeable proportion of its debut games are already available on the Xbox 360. Indeed, the likes of Fight Night Round 3 have been maturing on the shelves for over a year, while many of the others debuted on the 360 over four months ago. Internet gossip and many online reviews also point to several of these PS3 conversions suffering in comparison to the 360 'originals', an astonishing state of affairs considering that Sony's hardware is newer technology with a price tag that dwarfs that of Microsoft's console.

Of course, it's early days for the PlayStation 3 and any new piece of gaming technology takes time for game developers to get to grips with. That said, many studios (off the record of course) are not entirely happy with the SDK that Sony provides for PlayStation 3 development. The word is that Microsoft's programming environment gives better results more quickly. There's also the question of memory - Xbox 360 gives developers a full 512MB to do with as they will. PlayStation 3 on the other hand divides its internal RAM into two 256MB portions, with one section dedicated entirely to the NVIDIA-derived graphics technology. Up until recently, 64MB of the PS3's system memory was also sectioned off for OS use only, meaning that memory becomes far more of a precious commodity when developing on the Sony platform.

Clearly the PS3 is far from technically deficient up against the 360. While the 360's triple-core PowerPC CPU is an extreme piece of technology, Cell is no slouch in itself. It may only have a single core, but its satellite SPU processors are astonishingly powerful - just one of them can decode 300 MP3s simultaneously in real-time, and there are six of them available to be used in concert while the main CPU runs the core game logic.

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More NFS Carbon downloads

More 80-point car shortcuts.

In what's turning into a bit of a banner day for EA downloads, the publisher has thrown a few more downloadable Need For Speed: Carbon vehicles onto Xbox Live Marketplace - each priced 80 Microsoft points.

More cars for NFS Carbon 360

If you can't unlock them.

Still rubbish at Need For Speed Carbon? Then EA's offering the chance to download a few cars that you're too rubbish to unlock in the Career mode. You disgust me.

Need For Speed Carbon

Like a lot of EA's annual cash-cow staples, Need For Speed has been through more peaks and troughs than your average cardiograph. Perhaps inevitably, after last year's palpitating return to form with Most Wanted, Carbon's solid but formulaic approach to street racing struggles to raise the pulse for much of the time. The problem? It's just too damned easy and plays down the role of the police to the detriment of the game.

As well as lacking a long-lasting challenge with weak opponents and wide, easy tracks to race around, the premise is a whole lot simpler this time around too. In terms of look, feel and structure, Carbon feels more closely connected to the hugely popular Underground games despite picking up where Most Wanted left off. After an ill-fated chase sequence with bounty hunter Cross, you hook up with an old 'friend' Darius and begin the familiar process of taking over territory by winning races against rival crews across the neon-lit Palmont City.

But despite offering what appears to be a vast number of challenges to overcome, the truth is that even newcomers to racing games will be able to see off the majority of the tasks at hand in the main Career mode on their first or second attempt. The basic idea is to work your way around Palmont's streets and scalp territories by winning the various race challenges dotted around on the openworld map. But as with previous NFS games, you can quickly jump to each race by simply calling up the map and selecting which one you want. Every victory wins you cash and unlocks more powerful cars and upgrades, and by applying the necessary performance enhancements and buying the appropriate cars when they appear for sale, you'll easily see off three of the game's four territories without really breaking sweat. It's more forgiving than your average priest.

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NFS Carbon 360 downloads

Buy before you play!

With Need For Speed Carbon out this Friday, EA has kicked off its Xbox 360 downloadable content plans with the release of the Collector's Edition Upgrade and various smaller bundles.

NFS Carbon PC demo

Three tracks, three cars.

EA has ended the month the way it began - with a Need For Speed Carbon demo.

NFS Carbon demo on Live

If you've got a gig to spare.

Need For Speed Carbon has joined the list of downloadable game demos on Xbox Live Marketplace, although it's 1GB so you'll probably want to put the tea on before you start downloading it.

NFS Carbon Wii date an error

So don't get too excited.

Electronic Arts has denied that a Need For Speed: Carbon release date posted in error on its press website reflects the launch timing for the Nintendo Wii.

Vaugier for NFS Carbon

Canadian actress signs up.

Having already secured Jeeps for Medal of Honor: Airborne and all manner of cover-stars for its sports games, EA's today announced that it's signed up Canadian actress Emmanuelle Vaugier to star in Need For Speed Carbon.

NFS Carbon details, shots

NFS Carbon details, shots

Ten platforms targeted.

Having trailed the game in several forms already - as part of E3 showreels, in a new trailer released yesterday and in recent US magazine previews - EA has now officially pulled back the veil on Need For Speed: Carbon.

The next game in the multi-million-selling racing game series is due out on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PS2, Xbox, GameCube, DS, GBA, PSP and PC (phew) this autumn, and you can check out some of the first screenshots elsewhere on the site.

As reported earlier this week, NFS: Carbon involves capturing various city territories block by block with your crew of racing pals, and then moving out of the city to California's Carbon Canyon - an infamous destination for dedicated petrolheads - which also has plenty of race-space to conquer.

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EGTV: Need For Speed Carbon

First trailer since E3.

Eurogamer TV is now showing the first teaser trailer for Carbon, the latest addition to EA's phenomenally successful Need For Speed racing series.

Need For Speed Carbon details

Need For Speed Carbon details

Still not much, so grid and bear it.

Details on Need For Speed Carbon have been monoxidously thin since its name first appeared at E3 last month, but a few scans have popped up from US and UK magazines this week offering more of an outline.

NFS Carbon - apparently so called due of its relationship with "Carbon Canyon" in California, where racers often meet up to drive around very fast and probably "race for pinks" and the like - is due out on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PS2, Xbox and PSP this winter.

Those of you wondering whether it shares more in common with the ludicrously popular Need For Speed Underground games or the recent Most Wanted digression will probably find elements of both, by the sound of it, with lots of cop chases but also a definite sense of building up a "crew".

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