Although this version of Need for Speed: Carbon - Own the City shares its name with its counterparts, the game is completely different. Unlike the other versions there is no canyon racing or drift racing.
The goal of the game is to build up a gang of the best racers and take over all the city's territories. The driving is all city-based similar to the open world of Need for Speed: Most Wanted. The tuner culture/car customization features started in Need for Speed Underground are also present.
There is a light story, presented as comic book style illustrations, that unfolds as the player take over territories and complete chapters.