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Midnight Club 2 Review
publisher: Rockstar Games
developer: Rockstar San Diego
PIII 800, 128MB RAM, 32MB Video Card, 1.4GB HD
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Jul 02, 03 (released)
|» All About Midnight Club 2 on ActionTrip|
It's been a while since I got my hands on a decent arcade racer, so I was happy to see Midnight Club 2 when it arrived on my doorstep. Rockstar San Diego (who were, until recently, referred to as Angle Studios) have created a rather interesting racing game, with gameplay that's similar to classic high-velocity arcade racers like Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, Midtown Madness, and Test Drive. At first glance, you'll realize that the game also shows off a slight, but very evident, pinch of GTA: Vice City.
Hit the brakes! Gorgeous chick at 12 o'clock!
Yep, that's the mall I'm looking for. Let's bring her in!
Players start their careers as rookie drivers, facing many deadly challenges to qualify for some serious tire-scorching inner city street races. As you may have gathered, the game takes you through the secret world of illegal city racing - a scenario very similar to what we've seen in the movie 2 Fast 2 Furious; the recently launched sequel to the popular Hollywood blockbuster. The characters you'll be running into throughout the game have attitudes and personalities that are no different from those you can see in the above mentioned movie. Keep in mind that street racing can be quite lethal, and you should be prepared to head through crowded districts of L.A., Paris, and Tokyo. Yeah, that probably seems like a small variety, but you shouldn't worry too much because the vastness of these urban settings will offer diverse alternate routes and shortcuts, giving you the freedom to drive anywhere you like (a graceful combination of GTA: Vice City and Midtown Madness).
Engaging in several ruthless and death-defying street races, you'll be able to increase your driving skills by listening to hot tips from competitors - who actually come as excellent tutors at the first stages of your racing career. This is quite a cool addition to the gameplay, since the advice from other drivers really pays off. Actually, almost all hints that are given to you by other more experienced drivers are details you should pay attention to while you're out there risking your neck in the streets.
Before we go on any further, there's one issue that should be addressed. Being a console port and all, Midnight Club 2 works better with a gamepad. The keyboard controls definitely take some time getting used to, and may appear a bit awkward and crude at first. The gamepad controls, on the other hand, appear much smoother and more intuitive. This may lower your initial impression of the game, but if you give it time, you'll see why sticking with it eventually pays off.
Midnight Club 2 is a challenge right off the starting line. From your very first race you will feel the rush of adrenaline as you complete the racing trials and dares that come to you along the road. This is largely thanks to the game's solid AI of your racing opponents. All drivers have been endowed with intelligent reactions to anything that might happen during the race. This means that opponents will respond to obstacles, vehicles, and cops the same way you do, with the firm intention of finding the quickest possible route to the next checkpoint. There is one or two hitches in the AI though. First of all, your opponents will do everything they can to push you off your course and far away from your goal... even if it ruins their own chances of success. This is something your opponent will be doing quite often, especially at the beginning of the race. Although most of the time all CPU-controlled drivers will appear to handle themselves well on the road, on occasion, they can smack into obstacles quite unexpectedly and without any particular logic. Both of these hitches can be quite annoying when they occur.
The best aspect of Midnight Club 2 is that it features extensive and various city districts for you to race in and a wide variety of flashy cars and motorbikes to choose from. As players rush through the city at high speed, they can smack into various objects. Here are a few examples: heaps of letters will fly straight out of mail boxes as you knock them over, ramming into fuel containers on gas stations causes your car to explode on the spot, pedestrians scream and try to dodge getting tossed off the sidewalk, and so on. Pretty neat! Also, it is clear that the developers have made and effort to fine-tune the physics, which increases the rush and makes the whole game that much more enjoyable. Although we didn't witness any technical issues and visual bugs, we feel that the entire game could've looked better.
My fault! My fault!
I'm being attacked by a fiendish dancing mailbox!
One of the first irritating things we encountered in Midnight Club 2, next to some of those AI glitches, was the lack of any additional visual options other than switching the shadows off and on (some tracks can be rather murky, so an additional gamma or brightness option would be most welcome). Also, some gamers may get bored sooner or later with driving at night. Granted some sections feature fog, rain, and a slight moment of daybreak, but that's about it. Sadly, we were further disappointed, when we saw the game in higher resolutions. The objects and buildings appear to lack more polys and that goes for the car models as well. The good thing, however, is that all the cars have decent reflections on them, which improves their overall look a wee bit. In all honesty, a PC racer launched in these times, should have a lot more to offer in terms of visuals.
As opposed to relatively poor graphics, the game will treat players to an overall satisfying sound quality. Although, the music sets an excellent pace and agrees with the arcade style of play, I think that the game could do with richer sounds in the background - it just feels too empty at times. Naturally, the good thing is that you can throw in your list of favorite MP3 tunes and listen to them throughout the game - a feature that remains exclusive to the PC version. Those of you who choose to go with the default soundtrack, will be pleased with a huge variety of hip-hop and techno tunes.
All of you who prefer multiplayer racing should be thrilled to hear what this game has to offer. There are two modes to race through, and both of these modes give the game a Destruction Derby-style gameplay. Needless to say, there is heaps of hi-octane fun to be found in the multiplayer mode, which only further increases the replay value of Midnight Club 2.
The bottom line is that Midnight Club 2 is the right choice for anyone who's out for an action-packed arcade racer with smooth gameplay and miscellaneous tasks and challenges to complete on the road. The accent in this game is on addictive, high-paced arcade-style driving. There are tons of vehicles and vast city locations to race through. In addition, there is a reasonably lengthy single-player career mode and an equally addictive multiplayer. Unfortunately, the already mentioned flaws, such as relatively poor visuals, slightly unbalanced keyboard controls, and AI glitches may thwart the gameplay experience somewhat. Still, if your motto in life is "gameplay is king," and you like arcade racers to boot, make sure you pick this one up - you won't regret it.
8.1 Very Good
Very addictive gamepaly... a classic arcade racer. The cities you race in are huge, featuring dense traffic and many challenges and obstacles on the road. The variety of vehicles. Cool music;
The keyboard controls need more tuning. A few odd AI issues. There are sections in the cities that simply crave more texture detail and better looking scenery. (After all, this IS a console port. - 2Lions) Also, some sections are too dark and players will eventually get fed up of driving at night.
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