The prologue of Need for Speed: Carbon's career mode consists of a series of storyline-related cutscenes and tutorial race events.
The player may select a Tier 1 car of one of the game's three car classes. Each vehicle gives the player a different progress in the career mode. The prologue ends after the player visits their first safehouse location.
At the beginning of the game, the player is seen driving his BMW M3 GTR to Palmont City on a canyon road. Whilst driving, the player reminisces their past time in Palmont City - their flashback reveals that they were racing against Angie, Kenji and Wolf for Darius, who lended the player his Toyota Supra. The cash prize for the race was carried in a red bag by Nikki. Prior to the end of the race, the player's racing rivals become targeted by ambushing Palmont Police Department (PPD) units, who proceeded disabled their vehicles and arrest them. Being the only one not caught by the PPD, the player attempts to save Nikki but only catches her bag. Whilst escaping from Palmont, the player discovers that the bag did not contain their cash prize.
After the dream sequence has ended, the player notices Cross from behind, a bounty hunter who previously worked for the Rockport Police Department to catch the player. Cross begins to ram the player from behind, forcing them to flee from him. At the end of the canyon road, the player gets into a construction site, totalling their car in the process. Before Cross could apprehend the player, Darius arrives the scene, who convinces Cross to leave the player up to his disposal by agreeing him to a deal. Whilst the player was talking to Darius, Nikki, who is now a member of Darius' crew, appears. Just before she could confront the player, Darius stops her and convinces her to help the player form a crew. That way, the player can repay his debts by clearing out all of Palmont City's crews for him.
Nikki along with the player visit Neville to get a new car that will be paid by Darius. After the player has picked a car, Nikki and Neville demonstrate all crew member abilities to them in San Juan. After they are done, Nikki leaves the player with Neville, who drives with them on highway 142. Both are ambushed by the police whilst doing so and forced to split ways. Once the player escaped from the cops, they are instructed by Neville to meet them in a safehouse near the highway.
|Lookout Point||Alfa Romeo Brera, Chevrolet Camaro SS or Mazda RX-8 as starting vehicle|
|Mesa Bridge||Only selectable as a test drive course for a starter car|
|Salazar Street||Tutorial race event that demonstrates all crew member abilities|
|Pursuit||The player must evade all police vehicles and drive to a safehouse upon completion|