Before we jump into this review there's one thing that needs to be made perfectly clear: Midnight Club: L.A. Remix for the PSP is not a port of Midnight Club: Los Angeles on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Considering the similarity in names and the fact that the two games came out on the same day it's easy to get confused, but L.A. Remix is a brand new Midnight Club game specifically made for Sony's handheld PSP. Thankfully Rockstar Games' newest portable racing game is just as good as its console counterparts ... and in some ways better.
This isn't the first time Rockstar Games has attempted to bring their popular racing franchise to the PlayStation Portable; three years ago they released a port of Midnight Club 3. Unfortunately the handheld version of Midnight Club 3 wasn't quite up to the standards of its console brothers; it suffered from long load times and a myriad of other technical problems. This time around Rockstar Games attempts to right some of the wrongs with their last game, and for the most part succeeds.
As the name suggests, Midnight Club: L.A. Remix takes place in a condensed version of Los Angeles, California. However, this is not the same L.A. that you find in the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 versions of the game, but rather a brand new (and smaller) version with brand new shortcuts and landmarks. Oddly enough, California isn't the only place you're going in this Midnight Club game. After you get done racing through the city and leveling up your character's experience, the game transports you to ... Tokyo? It's true, even though it makes very little sense for you to go to Japan, Midnight Club: L.A. Remix features a condensed version of this major Japanese city.
The basic concept of the game has not changed, you play a character that buys cars and goes around racing other people for money and respect. The good news is that the silly story found in the Xbox 360 game is nowhere to be found here, so you can focus your attention on tracking down challenges and racing other racers. For those who have sharpened their teeth on the console games, you'll quickly notice that most of the races are much shorter. In fact, just about everything about this game has been streamlined in order to make it easier for you to just pick up and play a few races when you have a few extra minutes to burn. Thankfully the game is also deep enough for those who plan on sitting down and playing long sessions of the game. There are all kinds of different events, not to mention fun challenges and bonus shortcuts to discover. And just when you get sick of one city you get shipped off to Japan, which has a completely different look and feel.
Everything that you loved about the past three Midnight Club games is front and center here, from the high speed races to the different types of races to the weird car super powers. Super powers? While not noticeable at first, it won't be long before you realize that your car has a secret. It's true; your car can perform all sorts of cool tricks, most of which will give you a significant advantage in your high speed race to the finish line. There are three different powers, including AGRO (the ability to plow right through the competition), ZONE (which slows everything down so that you can make precise corners), and ROAR (which sends out an engine rev so loud that traffic will do anything it can to get out of your way). All of these different abilities add a lot to the game; however they don't overshadow the already strong racing mechanics.
The criticism that has always been leveled against this type of racing game is that with so many different city streets (and hidden shortcuts) it's incredibly easy to get lost or accidentally make a wrong turn. Unfortunately this is still the Achilles ' heel of Midnight Club: L.A. Remix. On one hand it's a double-edged sword; you want the city to be fully realized and full of intersecting streets and shortcuts, but the more complicated the city is the more overwhelming the experience can be when you're driving at breakneck speeds. It's hard enough to keep control of the car and dodge traffic without having to also look at the tiny map to make sure you didn't miss your turn.
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