rocks! I guess then that it is appropriate that it was brought to us by
Rockstar Games (our friends who brought us the hugely popular Grand
Theft Auto series). I have gotten pretty leery of a lot of racing games
lately. I was excited for this title because it is online capable, but
otherwise I didnt hold much hope. Thankfully I was immediately and
pleasantly surprised. This game is a kick in the pants. I honestly cant
remember the last time I laughed so hard playing a videogame. Once we
got online it degraded into complete hysterics. We were all laughing
uncontrollably. You know, the kind of laugh that results in drool
running from your mouth and gasping for air. Ok, well that description
didnt make it sound real fun, but trust me it was.
I hate to admit
it to all our loyal readers, but I kind of suck at racing games. The
more realistic they are, the suckier I am. Im not really the kind of
person who is good at being bad at something. My Mother dearest always
told me that "If I wasnt good at something the first time, I would
never try it again." That must be why my first impression of Midnight
Club 2 (MC2) was so favorable. The gameplay is so intuitive. Im not
just talking about the controller setup, but the feel of the game. The
way your car drives suits me just perfectly. I was naturally gliding
around sharp corners at 150mph like a racecar driver, and hooting and
hollering like one of the Dukes of Hazard. I can hardly convey how much
fun it is to drive these cars.
Rockstars trademark irreverence is ever present. While it is not nearly
as wild as Grand Theft Auto 3, there are still plenty of cops to evade
and innocent pedestrians to run over. Most characters have a bit of a
potty mouth as well. It is something parents with younger children may
want to look out for, but it should be fine for most gamers.
arent the only things you can run over. In fact MC2 boasts quite an
interactive environment. When you hit a parking meter it will go flying
and coins spray back at your windshield. If you see anything at an angle
that you can drive onto, it can generally be used as a jump. Heck, you
can drive right through a window, into a mall, by all the store fronts,
and out the parking garage. Having spent many summers working for a
Traffic Department, I was a little disgruntled to watch my roommate
knock over traffic light after traffic light.
favorite MC2 moment: Im driving at top speed, head to head with my
opponent. We are coming up on an intersection and the light is red (in
this game everyone except the racers follow the rules of the road). A
huge Semi-truck is crossing in front of me and there is no time to slow
down. On an instinct I aim for right in the center of the trailer. My
opponent crashes into the truck. I speed on towards the finish line,
barely sneaking underneath the trucks trailer. This is better than the
movies and I didnt even mention racing on two wheels. Thats right, you
can get on your side to more easily maneuver through tight situations.
have two major gripes with this game. The first really has more to do
with Sony dropping the ball than anything else. Like with other online
games for the PS2 you are forced to type out all interactions with other
players. It is nearly impossible to race someone online and scroll
through a list of letters to form a conversation. Even if I had the
keyboard for the PS2 I would still have to take my hands off of the
controller (which is a bad idea at 150 mph) and type it out. I cant
help but imagine how nice this would be with a headset instead. I guess
we will find out when Midnight Club 2 comes out on the X-box.
gripe is with the non-linear racing. It is an amazing ideathe ability
to go anywhere within a city as long as you are the first to make it to
the finish line. The problem is that most modes require you to follow a
very linear set of checkpoints in order to get to the end. You cant
skip checkpoints in order to get to the end quicker. This is fine but it
isnt what I was expecting.
thing I did find myself really enjoying was the music, especially the
hip-hop tracks of LA. They were just the right kick to get your blood
pumping for each race. The rest of the sound effects were no slack
either and then there are your trash-talking opponents. Some of their
quips had me laughing and others made me wish I could rip on them right
back. All this and it comes in both Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS
Editor is pretty good. You are given a map of the city with a great
number of already existing checkpoints. You then choose from the
checkpoints to determine the route of your race. It is real easy to pick
up and there are tons of different races to be made. One of the neatest
things is that you can then go online and race your newly created track
with people across the country. I was a little bummed when the computer
spanked me the first couple of times I raced my own track. But like the
rest of the game it wasnt long before I was dominating.
difficulty level is perfect. It is challenging yet not too hard. There
was hardly a race I didnt need to try a time or two before I could pass
it. It always felt possible though. I love the way that the computer
racers face all the same difficulties the player does. I couldnt tell
you how many times I saw an AI racer go into the side of a building or
T-bone another car. Its really these little touches that make MC2 such
a phenomenal game.
only given three cities to play through (LA, Paris, and Tokyo) but they
are huge. There is definitely more than enough racing in these three
beautifully rendered cities. LA is the only city unlocked in the
beginning; you must earn the other two.
the rest of the game is fairly standard. There are a number of cars you
can unlock in the career mode. There are a number of different modes to
play including free cruise, a battle mode, and game modes like capture
the flag. All of these are available to play online. Surprisingly enough
I had the most fun just free cruising online. We would do little
mini-races or just smash into each other. It was a riot.
all my few complaints can barely be heard over the hooting and the
constant laughter. If youre looking for a racer that is challenging
without giving up an ounce of fun, then Midnight Club 2 is perfect. If
you are looking for more of the online action that the PS2 is lacking,
here you go. And if you need a place to focus your road rage, grab
Midnight Club 2 and knock everyone else off of the road.