Navigating through the city is only made more difficult when you realize that you can't stop the race and plot your course. In the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game you are able to pause the game and chart out where you are going to go, all the way down to figuring out the streets to take. Sadly this is not something you can do in this PSP game. Instead of pausing the game you get a large and intrusive pop-up map that literally covers 80% of the screen. For all intents and purposes, this is completely useless when you're driving at 130 miles per hour. I'm not sure why Rockstar Games didn't give us the option of pausing the game and looking at a map, but it really makes navigating a lot more painful than it needs to be.
However, while it may be more difficult to navigate, winning races is much easier this time around. When I reviewed Midnight Club: Los Angeles, I complained that the game's rubber band A.I. made the races much more difficult than they needed to be. This is not the case with L.A. Remix, which has computer-controlled cars that are so easy you'll barely notice that you're racing against other drivers. It's not until you hit the hardest difficulty that you start to notice the other drivers, which means that you'll likely breeze through a majority of the races without ever running into trouble. The game's difficulty is so forgiving that you can crash several times and still win by a good ten to fifteen seconds. Crash once or twice in the console game and you might as well start over. While I definitely like winning races more than I like losing them, I wish that there was a Midnight Club game with a difficulty that was somewhere in between these two titles.
Regardless of the game's easy difficulty, there is still a lot for you to do and see in Midnight Club: L.A. Remix. You'll be impressed with the large catalog of different cars, all of which can be upgraded and customized in a lot of great ways. You also get to race around the two cities using motorcycles and speed bikes, which is one of my favorite things to do. There are also tons of different races to complete, as well as some cool side missions, such as missions where you have to deliver cars to different spots. All in all, there's a lot of content here, certainly enough to get your money's worth.
Obviously the game's visuals aren't going to be on par with the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 game, but you shouldn't write the game off out of hand. The graphics are sharp, looking just as good as any of the Midnight Club games on the Xbox or PlayStation 2. As you progress through the game's story and pick up faster cars you'll discover that it gets harder to see cars coming at you. T his is by far the worst part of the visuals, but even that isn't any worse than what you had to put up with in the two Burnout games on the PSP. I like how both L.A. and Tokyo look, especially when you go sightseeing for well known landmarks.
The game's audio is also quite good. It's more than just the game's lengthy soundtrack (which features a number of top 40 songs you'll instantly recognize); you also get a lot of good car sound effects. Generally speaking in racing games sound effects take a backseat to the visuals, but it's hard not to overlook how important they are to helping you feel like you're in a life or death race to the finish line.
When you're not racing against computer opponents you can play against real people in the game's local Ad Hoc multiplayer mode. Unfortunately Midnight Club: L.A. Remix doesn't offer online play, though the instruction manual certainly hints at it. Either way, the offline multiplayer matches are a lot of fun. If you're not into the multiplayer stuff, you can also try out both Quick Race and Arcade modes, both offering a slightly different take on the Midnight Club theme.
Midnight Club: L.A. Remix may not be the PSP's best racing game, but it's a strong entry in an overcrowded field. With great graphics, sound and tons of content, it's easy to be impressed with Rockstar Games' newest portable game. I definitely like that you're not stuck in Los Angeles the whole time, even if the difficulty is a little too forgiving this time around. If you're a fan of racing games and you've played your copy of Burnout to death, then you should certainly consider picking up Midnight Club: L.A. Remix.
With a name like Midnight Club: L.A. Remix it's easy to confuse it with the recently released console game, but this PSP racer is vastly different ... and that's a good thing. Rockstar Games strikes again with another portable game with great graphics, solid controls and tons of content. It may not be their best work, but it's definitely worth checking out!
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