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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Racing

 

Publisher

Rockstar

 

Developer

Rockstar San Diego

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q2 2003

 

 

- Decent Graphics
- Detailed cities with complete freedom
- Online play
- Lots of Cars

 

 

- Par graphics on vehicles
- Difficult AI
- Repetitive levels and sequence of checkpoints
- Doesn’t utilize the Xbox’ power

 

 

Review: Midnight Club II (Playstation 2)

Review: Apex (Xbox)

Review: Ridge Racer V (Playstation 2)

 

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Midnight Club II

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

midnight-club-ii-xb1.jpg (38368 bytes)         midnight-club-ii-xb2.jpg (36243 bytes)

 

Illegal street racing is at its supreme point and more popular then ever thanks to blockbuster movies, rappers, and the Midnight Club series. The first Midnight Club game can get the credit of setting the trend of other racing games to follow, as well as set Rockstar as more then just “the grand theft auto guys”. Now that “2 Fast 2 Furious” has hit the big screen, there isn’t any reason why Rockstar can’t follow up their title with a sequel of its own.

The general premise of Midnight Club II (MC2) is incredibly simple and uncomplicated. There is no background given to your character, other then a young street racer trying to make it to the top (much like the characters in the GTA series). Since there isn’t a tutorial, using the arcade and cruise mode would be the best idea, to try and get the feeling of the cars. The first car available is the standard box shaped jalopy found collecting dust, but as you progress through the game,

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better cars can be unlocked.

Once starting out, and before every mission, you are told to find another street racer and challenge them to race. Once they’ve noticed you, you’re told to follow them to a given point to start the race. Almost every single competition in the game is done through a series of checkpoints. Once the race starts, you have to follow the given

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checkpoints, done in two different styles: an ordered system of checkpoints, or a random series of checkpoints. Each character you compete with utilizes both those two styles, and in that order.

MC2 spans over three different locales: Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Paris, all in diverse parts of the world. Along with the coinciding settings, each city has its own attributes. Los Angeles and Tokyo are bustling cities filled with busy streets and vibrant lights; which affects the way you drive and work through the levels. The stuffed traffic causes you to swerve off to the sidewalk (potentially running over a few pedestrians), or finding another route other then the streets. Each city allows the player to have complete freedom, allocating the player to find any possible route that works best, without the annoying barriers found in most racing games.

Coinciding with the trouble of working through the streets is the unbearably difficult AI. Since there isn’t a difficulty adjustment setting, MC2 tries to make the game more difficult as the player progresses. Ideally, that isn’t a bad idea; however in execution, the AI remains hard throughout the game. From the second or third mission in Los Angeles (the first city you race through), you’ll find yourself attempting the same level over and over, causing you to ultimately turn off the system out of sheer aggravation. Sometimes the AI does make the game more interesting, though most of the time the game becomes repetitive and frustrating, due to the difficulty of the AI racers.

Harnessing all three cities, the freedom of no barriers, and arsenal of various cars, puts the weight on the graphics to carry out all aspects smoothly. At first glance, MC2 has beautiful detail within the city, with towering buildings, busy streets, pedestrians, and of course vehicles filling the screen. However, the graphics of each piece is primitive when compared to the newer racing games. To compare the graphics of MC2 to Project Gotham Racing is unfair, and shouldn’t be considered; but keep in mind that there are certain standards, especially for the Xbox, that need to be mulled over. On the other hand, the particle effects taken place in the cities is wonderfully made. Running over a light post creates sparks to fly around, creating a very real experience. As far as cinematics are concerned, they’re up to par and last only mere seconds, giving the player a brief introduction of who they are racing, and where.

 

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Controlling your vehicle is one of MC2’s best features. Turning into streets and maneuvering through other cars can be done with ease, and make the races much more interesting when having the ability to cut through other cars without the trouble of dire controls. All cars have differing styles and unique traits that will help you advance through each level. Using a fast car with terrible turning would be the car you’d choose for a straight away course, filled with a small amount of turns. Sometimes you’ll have to do a level several times, before finding out which car is the most effective.

Given that street racing is associated with fast beats and head-pumping tracks, it’s nice to turn on the car radio to set the mood. MC2 features plenty of decent tracks, from real recording artists that range from rap to techno. Not to worry, you can change tracks in case a song doesn’t please your fancy. The sounds associated with cars are also well done, with car engines sounding accordingly with their real life counterpart. The degrading part about the sound is the voice of the competing characters. The first few times you hear these startling and random voices are during races and, at first, don’t bother you, seeing as a few are funny. It becomes a problem after having played the same level more than a few times, and all you want to do is finish to move on. It doesn’t ruin the gaming experience, but it doesn’t add the spice it originally intended.

Once finished with the single player campaign, the Xbox version allows for online play. You and up to seven other players can race around the streets, or play around with different game modes. There’s the usual Capture the Flag mode, which is pleasant to see in a racing game, and detonate mode with has you utilize power-ups that will help destroy your enemy. Both modes are not a tremendous amount of fun, but when boredom reaches a certain point, playing MC2 online is enjoyable.

Midnight Club 2 sends you through a plethora of levels that will send you trough emotional cycles of joy and frustration. I’d recommend this game to every gamer who spends a short amount of time playing games, even if you enjoy a lengthy game, and wants to pick up the controller every now and then to vent their driving anger. Nothing is better then running over a vulnerable pedestrian, drive under an 18-wheeler while going over 100, speed across red lights inching past others, and use your NAS booster, without being pulled over by a cop.

- Eric Lahiji
(July 13, 2003)

 

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