The 2006 game in the Need for Speed series develops the previous games’ gameplay. The career mode provides unlimited freedom in a metropolis with a story mode backed by FMV cutscenes, similar to the one seen in Need for Speed: Most Wanted, but now situated in the Carbon Canyon, where racers compete for territory in the city below. There are still several police pursuits. At the same time, the emphasis on tweaking and sculpting your automobile stays as established in Need for Speed Underground. You can visit garages and auto lots to upgrade your vehicle as you earn money through racing.
Enhancements are still unlocked progressively, but the vehicles are now organized into levels. There are approximately 40 automobiles to unlock. Many have been in previous editions, but this year has a new selection and powerful muscle cars such as the Ford Mustang and Dodge Charger are included. Other enhancements include creating your crew, more detailed sculpting features, drifting races (introduced in NFS: U and replaced by drag races in NFS: MW), and new car classes. Online multiplayer is available on the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 versions but not on the PS2, GC, or Xbox releases. With a few tweaks, up to eight players can race together in the Pursuit Tag or Pursuit Knockout modes. The pursuit Tag is running between one civilian automobile and one cop car. To become a civilian automobile, you must tag it and then try to evade the cops for as long as possible before being organized again by other players. In Pursuit Knockout, everyone starts as a civilian car, but at the end of the first lap, the last one becomes a cop and must cause as much damage to the other speeders as possible. Another option allows you to race with up to four other people in a single race.
In the career mode, the city and its surroundings have been divided into various territories controlled by gangs. You are either invited or challenged to race and claim the parts as your own. It would be best to impress the gang leader by winning races until he dares you to a battle – first in the city, then on the Carbon Canyon’s tight roadways. The scores are determined by proximity. You must follow the boss in the first race, and he is pursuing you in the second. There are four boss battles in total.
The crew feature lets you designate three jobs to racers: drafters, scouts, and blockers, with room for up to six vehicles. These are characters that you can hire to assist you in winning races. Drafters leave a colored trail to help you find your path, scouts seek hidden passageways, and blockers strive to cause mayhem to slow down your opponents. You can use the new AutoSculpt feature if you employ a scout, and it allows you to change the height of every section of your car using sliders only for aesthetic purposes. Full-body kits are also available.