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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Racing

 

Publisher

Microsoft

 

Developer

Microsoft Game Studios

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

June 2003

 

 

- Two cig cities to explore
- Great selection of vehicles
- Pick up and play
- Hilarious video extra

 

 

- Missions don’t vary enough
- Traffic just isn’t heavy enough
- Need more miscellaneous stuff to do

 

 

Review: Burnout 2: Point of Impact - Director's Cut (XB)

Review: Pro Race Driver (XB)

Review: Project Gotham Racing (XB)

 

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Midtown Madness 3

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

midtown madness 3 xbox review         midtown madness 3 xbox review

 

It’s a given that driving games will feature bigger and more realistic environments as time goes on and computing hardware becomes more powerful. A step in that progression is Midtown Madness 3 (MM3), which features two of the most complete real-world cityscapes that I’ve ever driven.

Just because I had nothing better to do, I did a bit of research. I examined maps of the areas that are replicated in MM3: Paris and Washington, DC. The street layouts are very, very close to real world conditions, including the major landmarks – and DC is full of them. Each city also sports subway systems that can be explored. The attention to detail is extremely good and it makes the driving experience all the more “realistic”. However, even with the traffic setting pushed to “heavy” the streets seem vacant, especially compared to the extreme traffic of Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions.

Like Wreckless, MM3 has high production values for both audio and video, although the voice-over work – especially the French accents – goes way, way overboard.

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Instead of being comical, I found it annoying. The action moves at a very smooth clip, whatever the time of day or season. There are some strange clipping issues. Smashing into anything inorganic usually results in a shower of sparks or broken glass, but hitting organic matter such as trees or people results in… nothing. You sail through them like they weren’t there (except for specific trees).

The biggest downside to

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MM3 is the unimaginative missions strung together by the barest of bare stories. The majority of MM3 is spent driving through checkpoints (delivering newspapers, pizza), racing against a few AI opponents, and finishing first. The good thing is that the checkpoints can be approached in any order, which makes a familiarity with each city essential to score the best times. Some missions nod to the cab-driving theme of Crazy Taxi, where you pick-up and drop off fares. The only twist is that you have specific fares to pick up. But…

There’s no diplomatic way to say this, it never feels like you have anything interesting to do across MM3's many missions. These are wide-open cities why not offer an option in the vein of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 where you can pick challenges? Challenges like, longest jump, destroy your car quickly, get up to 80 mph on the freeway and don’t hit any cars, longest skid mark, escape from the subway before it completely floods, and so on. The included missions are fine, if somewhat repetitive, but more could have been done beside the hidden paint jobs.

The upside is that the challenge is great. Not too hard or frustrating, not too easy -- just the right balance.

 

midtown madness 3 xbox review          midtown madness 3 xbox review


The vehicle roster is extensive. From the hulking garbage truck to the Mini-Cooper, you’ve got just about every flavor of vehicle you could ask for. Predictably, they all handle differently. The garbage truck, available right from the start, is my favorite even though it’s the slowest vehicle available. The best part is heading down the wrong lane of the freeway, knocking over oncoming traffic like dominoes. The roadsters are fun too in the way you can whip around blind corners at unsafe speeds. It doesn’t matter which vehicle you’ve chosen or have been assigned for a mission, they’re all tank-like in the amount of damage they can take. Even the eggshell-like cars can take obscene amounts of head-on damage before showing dents (unlike Wreckless, which modeled every bump). This sticks to the arcade-racing theme Midtown Madness has cultivated over the last two outings. Don’t expect to find a simulation buried in MM3, even with the accurately re-created cities.

Those connected to Live will find a satisfying online racing experience. Capture the Gold, Tag, Hunter, and Stayaway can be played split-screen and over Live and extends the replay value. Capture the Gold is along the same lines of Capture the Flag. Hunter tasks you with hunting down the other players and tagging them -- in turn those tagged players become hunters. The last person who is Prey wins. Tag and Stayaway are opposites from each other. Tag sticks to the mechanics that have always made tag a playground favorite. Stayaway reverses the roles -- you want to be It and stay away from everyone else. Hunter and Capture the Gold should suck up most of your time.

Like feature film DVD’s, all games should ship with behind the scenes extras. MM3 features a very funny short film about motion capture, featuring an eccentric mo-cap artist. It’s a good extra for those that are tired of the same old “Previews” of other games. It might bump up the cost of the overall development, but I like it.

Overall, racing fans shouldn’t have any qualms about picking up Midtown Madness 3. It’s not the best of the genre, but it does what it does in an appealing way with lots of different cars and two accurately modeled cities. The missions could have used some more imagination but MM3 still manages to be fun.

- Omni
(June 29, 2003)

 

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