Midnight Club II

Review

posted 8/4/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PC
In the late 90s a small studio named Angel Studios wowed the PC audience by developing Midtown Madness for Microsoft, the world’s first city-based racer. No longer were gamers confined to magical barriers or inane track layouts, in fact the gamer was encouraged to trek his own path towards the goal by any means possible. Thus the street racer was born, and while the grandfather of the genre has since been relegated to the Xbox, its legacy lives on via Rockstar San Diego, Angel Studios’ newly christened moniker.

And while Midtown Madness redefined the way that gamers looked at racing games the original Midnight Club was seen as just another mediocre racer. It had some pretty intriguing elements and features but in the end it was just another racer that tried to add on to the MM legacy. Enter Midnight Club II, a title that not only builds upon the necessary components but also adds some of its own to add for a unique and entertaining racing experience.

Plot development isn’t exactly the number one concern when it comes to racing games so you’ll be able to forgive MC2 if it’s a little shallow in some areas. Essentially it’s the videogame equivalent of the major motion picture The Fast and the Furious right down to the seedy characters and the tweaked-out vehicles. It’s not a complete recreation of that movie’s backwards universe so you won’t see Asians rolling around on motorcycles as they wreak havoc on White guys in imports but there are a few Mexicans in Imports so it’s still pretty damn close. We've already delved deeper into the game's premise in our reviews of the PS2 and Xbox versions so I'll refrain from beating that dead horse.

There are a few modes at your disposal including the requisite Cruise, Arcade, Career and online gameplay modes. Cruise pans out just as you would imagine, allowing you free reign amongst the game’s cities without having to worry about other racers. The Arcade mode allows you to participate in races on either a set of predetermined courses or ones that you create via the in-game checkpoint editor. Then there’s the meat and potatoes of the game, the career mode, which has you racing against other street racers to prove yourself worthy amongst their ranks. To flesh things out there’s also an online component that features a more stable network code than the PS2 and Xbox versions.

Racing in the game consists of roaming around giant cityscapes in search of checkpoints that are sprawled across the landscape. Initiating a race requires you to drive around the city and flash your high beams at one of your rivals. After that you’ll have to follow them to a specific point and then engage in a series of races with them. Beating them in the races will earn you their respect along with their vehicle. As you may imagine, the further you progress in the game the harder and longer the races get. Winning them, however, will yield you a faster and more powerful vehicle than the one you currently have.

When all of the rivals in a city are beaten you can progress to the next city. You’ll start out in a condensed version of Los Angeles, head on over to a better version of Paris and end in an amazingly designed recreation of Japan. The difficulty curve is amazingly intuitive because the prior levels do a great job of preparing you for the next. As you play more and more through Los Angeles you’ll learn tactics and maneuvers that will help you succeed in London and so forth. Personally I haven’t seen a racing title do such an excellent job of preparing the gamer for what lies ahead while giving them an enjoyable experience.
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