Midnight Club Los Angeles Review

August 11, 2009 at 2:12 am | Posted in Reviews, Xbox 360 Reviews | Leave a comment
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Link to review

Street racing is back, the best kind…

Before Need for Speed Undergrounds take with body modification and street racing came Midnight Club, the true spirit of street racing. The first game to feature no set tracks, just checkpoints around the city, creating a new threat on the race track, one fatal turn on streets could lose you your 1st place. One shortcut could earn you victory. Finally, Midnight Club gets the next generation treatment.

You, an unnamed character hits the streets of Los Angeles to break into the racing scene, the expensive and illegal kind. You work your way up, building your reputation and building your rides to take on the top of the underground racing scene. Do you have the skills to be the fastest?

As that pretty much states most racing games back from last years generation before Need For Speed games suddenly became story driven and 2 Fast 2 Furious took a hideous story plot turn for the worst, Midnight Club sticks its fingers up to the world and says were a racing game, so get on and drive. Good, because that’s what I’m here for.

Midnight Club was actually one of the first games to involve street racing, but was heavily overlooked with the hugely popular NFS series taking the idea on too with Underground, it wasn’t until MC: 3 DUB that it really broke out into its own genre and was well known for its intense racing and DUB scene on modifications.

The game solely revolves around driving around the city of Los Angeles finding other racers, flashing them (your headlights that is) and then going to the certain race to meet other racers.

Races consists of set checkpoints which must be reached, allowing you free roam of LA to get the fastest route to the next point, the only boundaries are the walls, so pick your shortcuts carefully.

Races tend to be very long and will also involve the police both in and out of races, so watch your driving, or you’ll be attracting the wrong kind of attention your after. Unlike some games, racing here has a lot more danger to it. The corners arent the friendliest of turns and the traffic can be your friend or your worst enemy. One slight nudge at night speed and they can be all over the road causing trouble for those behind you, if your the one trailing, then your dodging skills better be good.

Other racing elements of MCLA have returned, with my personal favorite being the popping up on two wheels to squeeze through that heavy traffic and stop other racers getting boost off your slipstream, which is now definitely a skill you’ll have to master if you don’t want to be grinding the sides of your ride down the pavements. Other MC traits include the boost from slipstream and the 4 power ups, of being able to slow down time to get through tough sections, creating a shockwave to disrupt traffic and other racers, interfering with cars electrical parts and the power up of being a battering ram. Whilst pulling the game away from any form of realism with these, it definitely makes the game a lot more fun, something Midnight Club is all about.

One thing that has changed is the fact Midnight Club, isn’t always at midnight anymore, dynamic weather and time systems allow the game to cycle from day to night, and whilst using Rockstars RAGE engine to allow for different traffic conditions with realistic times of day, as well as weather effects on both the road and your ride.

With the money and rep you earn from completing these you’ll get yourself the ability to unlock new cars, parts and abilities for each of your cars and bikes. And there sure is a hell of a lot of stuff you can do…

Reduced: 90% of original size [ 800 x 450 ] – Click to view full image

Heres where I get a little excited, customization has always been a fun thing, and even brings a new community to it, so to see what we can do with Next gen play sets is great fun.

Obviously, you get the usual suspects, front and rear bumpers, side skirts, wide body kits and rims, along with a bunch of other features including headlights, tail lights, the colour of your neon lights ###inside your car, or even your license plates. All real life brand parts and some of MCLA’s own.

And let’s not forget colour, with a massive range of styles from gloss to sparkle and pearlescent, you can have any colour under the sun fade into any other colour you’d like. Vinyl’s coming out of your ears. Choosing the right colour for your ride goes as intense as spraying separate spokes of your wheels or having different effects on individual body parts. The customization community come in and put your feet up. Your home.

Occasionally you’ll get a call from your friend who owns a Garage to do other jobs, like deliver cars, or take ‘out’ cars for extra cash and respect. One thing that Rockstar seems to assume is almost everyone in the US is European decent. The first few people you meet, sound like they could be related Niko of GTA4 in some way, or I’m half expecting to pull up to a racer and to see Roman behind the wheel. Other than that, it’s your usual angry American citizens, cocky trust fund tuners and racers with Superchargers to over-compensate for the downstairs. Your typical racing scene players will fill the ranks of the people waiting in your dust.

For those who thought Grand Theft Auto 4 looked good. Midnight Club LA looks even better, granted, there’s not a massive free roam city like Liberty City, rather a smaller Los Angeles, but that’s great, because the cars look great going down the city, whether you’re in the heat of battle down a traffic packed highway, or cruising down Beverly Hills as the sun dawns on the city. You can’t knock one part to this game visually, usually because you’re going too fast to notice any flaws.

The intensity in the races can sometimes be felt from just the view from the cockpit, a rarely well done view of playing the game, MCLA pulls this off really well, making the racing and action going on in front of your hood all that more closer, whether it be speeding towards a packed freeway or seeing a racer ahead spin out of control and right into your path, its definitely a racing view you’ll be fond of.

The game has a healthy soundtrack of songs, varying from Rock, to Hip Hop and Electronica, custom play lists from those genres are allowed as is your own custom soundtrack from your Xbox HDD.

The cars itself sound really well done, each dump valve hiss and growl of a muscle cars V8, its always one of those warm feelings when you take your car out of the garage after upgrading the engine and giving it a few revs. Ahhh music to my ears….

Whilst the game has a healthy amount of races, that’s… all there is really. And as great of a formula that was 5 years ago, the repetitiveness isn’t always what people are after these days. The game will last you a long time, and probably a little more longer if you pace yourself to ensure you don’t get too overly bored with it in one go. The Multiplayer has a lot of come back to it if you have a bunch of mates who are up for it as well. And if you’re the kind of person who enjoys modding and customizing cars and such, there’s a Photo mode to show off your skills, uploadable to the internet, and even a ‘Rate My Ride’ service which allows you to post your vehicles up and to view others, where people can actually buy the cars online and the seller keeps the car and earns cash every time someone buys it, a great way to see the hottest liveries out there.

For the explorers out there, you’ll also be able to find 60 collectable Rockstar bins which unlock extras every 10 discoveries.

A much needed reprisal back to street racing games and how they should be, a definite adversary to EA’s Undercover also realized this month. Yet its needless to say, from the roars of the superchargers to the gritty neon glow of the streets, this is one of the best underground racing games to date.

Rating 8.7

Published by: Rockstar Games
Developed by: Rockstar San Diego
Release Date: October 20, 2008
Genre: Racing

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