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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Racing

 

Publisher

Rockstar

 

Developer

Rockstar San Diego

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q2 2003

 

 

- Great Graphics
- Realistic Control
- Intelligent AI

 

 

- Frustratingly Intelligent AI
- Too Linear

 

 

Review: Project Gotham Racing (Xbox)

Review: Ridge Racer V (Playstation 2)

Review: Sega GT (Dreamcast)

 

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Midnight Club II

Score 9.2 / 10

 

Midnight Club has always been about a very simple formula. Race through the cities of Los Angeles, Paris and Tokyo in fast breathtaking cars. Do everything necessary to get to the finish before your opponents. Shortcuts, alternate routes, do whatever it takes. While this is certainly not a groundbreaking idea, the Midnight Club series has always proved to be fun with breathtaking visuals. The sequel does not disappoint. Midnight Club II raises the bar for all street-racing games to come after it. Whether you're miles ahead of your opponents, in the heat of it or straggling behind, it provides you with an adrenaline filled rush.

 

midnight-club-ii-1.jpg (29726 bytes)        midnight-club-ii-2.jpg (32250 bytes)

 

The first thing you'll notice of the sequel is the incredible visuals. Light reflections off the chrome surface, reflective windows, everything is used to make you believe you're part of the action. The PS2 may be obsolete now to graphic powerhouses like the Xbox and Gamecube but MCII proves the system still can hold it's own. The game sacrificed visuals from inanimate objects like buildings but it is hardly noticeable as you zoom through the streets.

 

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Each car handles differently as it would in any other game but MCII has something special. The cars grow on you. The more you race with a certain car, the more unique attributes the car has will be noticeable. Those attributes can keep you in the race even in later parts of the game where the cars your opponents drive dwarf your car in speed, handling and acceleration. There is hardly any learning curve as most players can pick up the game and cruise through the streets. Getting the feel of the car separates the novices 

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from the veterans. The only problem I have with the game is the frequent acquisition of new cars from races you just won. It barely gives you any time to get a feel for the car you currently drive.

 

Another point worthy of mentioning is the motorcycle. Like a car, you win it after a successful race. They give a nice tutorial race on how to use the bike but you really learn by racing with it. The controls may seem awkward after racing multiple races with a car but quickly it becomes second nature. On a bike you feel the true adrenaline of MCII. After racing with a bike you'll never want to revert back to a car. It handles very realistically using actions like weight transfer to turn sharply (and to pop wheelies to add most insult to injury) and ducking to increase speed. You will crash often with a motorcycle without spectacular control but it's not problem as it's superior speed will get u back in the race quickly.

 

Where Midnight Club II shines is the career mode. You play as an aspiring street racer with ambitions to make it to the top through everyone in the way. You will make many enemies along the way (after all nobody likes anyone who just drives away with their best car) and travel throughout three racing hotspots (Los Angeles, Paris, Tokyo).

 

midnight-club-ii-3.jpg (34204 bytes)         midnight-club-ii-4.jpg (38823 bytes)

 

The single player races are fun but offer no challenge especially if your well into the career mode. MCII does try to offset that with some minigames like CTF (Capture the Flag) and Detonator but the novelty does wear off quickly. In fact, Capture the Flag is not even a team game but basically a race between all participants to one checkpoint (Flag location) and back to the finish line.

 

The sound in the game isn't as dominant as the GTA series but does provide some nice beats that go well with the racing. Sometimes though it just feels better to turn off the music and just race.

 

Whether you're a casual racing fan or hardcore, Midnight Club II is worthy use of your free time. It will also win many new fans over to the series as it provides an experience not found in most games. Cool cars and racing. The formula always wins.

 

- Stefan Shetty

(June 8, 2003)

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