You really have to hand it to Rockstar Games. Ever since Grand Theft Auto III
, the company has been on fire. Just about every game they make is either good or popular, and usually both. Almost out of nowhere, Rockstar Games has become one of the biggest players in the software game.
This might have played in to why there has been so much excitement surrounding Midnight Club 2
, the sequel to one of the PS2’s first racing games. But while you can spend all day comparing Grand Theft Auto to Midnight Club 2, the truth is they are vastly different games. But that doesn’t mean this game can’t steal a little of Grand Theft Auto’s thunder, after all, as a racing game, it is one of the best I’ve played in a long time and deserves to be played.
The prospect of street racing in fully realized cities is perhaps the one thing that kept the original Midnight Club so popular. In that game, racers were given a chance to show their stuff in both New York City and London, two great cities, but neither were especially interesting to play.
Thankfully Midnight Club 2 gets it right. This time around we have three huge cities, each of them with their own areas of town, landmarks, and personalities. In Los Angeles you’ll find LAX, parts of Hollywood, Staples Center (appropriately renamed, of course), and the Los Angeles Convention Center (where E3 is held). The cities aren’t modeled out, so don’t expect reality, they merely look like the land in question.
After L.A., you’ll find yourself speeding through the streets of Paris, and then finally Tokyo. These three cities are huge, and you can get lost just looking at all the sights. They are also multi-layered, so you can head to the freeway above and around the city, or take the underground tunnels. The cities also have an amazing amount of secrets, shortcuts, hidden areas, and cool jumps. The pure joy of exploration I had navigating the streets of Vice City is back, and this time there are three completely different locations.
One of the main problems I had with the original Midnight Club was how flat everything seemed. The game had very few hills or jumps, so there was never any chance of catching air or landing on top of your rival. Things are completely different this time around, as all three cities have huge jumps, hills, and more. Nothing about this sequel feels flat, and it feels like the roads were tweaked so they’d be in the perfect locations. It’s obvious a lot of time was spent making these levels.
To keep the cities large, full of life, and running fast, the graphics aren’t overly detailed. Now, don’t get me wrong, they aren’t bad, in fact, they are much, much better than those found in the original. But if you’re expecting photo-realism, you’ll just have to wait a little longer.
In all, there are over thirty vehicles to choose, from cars to bikes to police cruisers. All of these vehicles are presented with a nice amount of detail, and look good even when you’ve damaged them to the point of them getting ready to explode.
While there are no actual licensed vehicles, there’s no denying that many of the vehicles were modeled directly off of what’s hot in the sports car world. The Interna is obviously the Honda S2000, whereas the Alarde is undeniably the Lotus Elise, and so on so forth. The lack of licensed cars doesn’t really hurt the game, and the vehicles themselves have everything from generic street racers to muscle cars, so variety is never a problem.
The other cars that litter the street aren’t nearly as good-looking, though. Even though they come in all shapes and sizes, you’ll find a lot of similar looking cars stuck in traffic. It’s not that they look bad; it’s just that they were obviously not given the attention the real cars were given. But let’s face it, they aren’t exactly the most important aspect of the game, they are merely obstacles in your path.
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