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"Midnight Club Los Angeles"

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This thread has been linked to the game 'Midnight Club: Los Angeles'.
Wed 27/01/10 at 15:22
Regular
"And in last place.."
Posts: 2,054
With Rockstar involvement and a title like Midnight Club you could forgive the Daily Mail crowd for thinking this is a game based around some sleazy nightclubs shenanigans but no, this is a simply a racer. Fair enough it is an illegal street racing but this is Rockstar after all.

This is not a new game by any means but with a recent re-release on Classics I thought it was worth a little review.

Midnight Club LA is an open city racer where, like Burnout Paradise, you have some freedom in how you get to the finish line and a knowledge of shortcuts will benefit you greatly. It should come as no surprise that this game is set in Los Angeles but unless LA is a lot smaller than I imagine, then you don't have the entire area at your disposal although that is not to suggest the play area is small.

Comparisons with Burnout Paradise are inevitable and LA feels larger than Paradise City but I'm not sure there is much in it. I would say it definitely has more roads and there is less open space but for some reason LA feels like the bigger city. It is certainly the busier city with more cars, buildings/landmarks and pedestrians which is something Paradise City doesn't have. LA feels more alive.

The career mode is straight out of a The Fast and The Furious script. You are the new boy in town and you need to win races to build up your reputation. Each race will reward you reputation points and money which can be spent on tarting up your car or a whole new car. Naturally you are going to start out small, a mark 1 Golf GTi was my first car but it has been a trusty little servant so I can't fault it. As your money grows you will have access to much more desireable cars and motorbikes. As you progress through the game you will meet various annoying people who will give you more missions to
complete in order to progress through your career. In addition to the mission races, LA is full of other races which add to your reputation and bank balance without progressing the story. One thing you can say for Midnight Club LA is that you are never short of someone to race.

There are a variety of races with various numbers of mouthy opponents. The opponents are full of wise cracks during a race, mocking your mistakes or mocking your positioning and you will probably find most characters in this game annoying. There have been many times where I would happily stop the race to pull the opponent out of the car and give them a slap. The races themselves have several variations. There are individual races, a series of races
where points are awarded after each race, check point races, no set route races where you simply have to get to the finish line first and motorway races. The races themselves are graded, green icon for easy, yellow and orange ups things a little and red for hard but regardless of your finishing position you will get reputation and money and you can always retry failed races at any point.

Races are started by flashing your lights at an opponent and since your opponent is already driving around, there is a good chance neither of you is at the starting line so there is a little pre-race race to get involved in with some extra reputation points to be won. Of course, if you are a wild racer like me then this means your car is more or less trashed before the race starts. Crash damage plays its part in Midnight Club. As much as you can plough through lamp posts, fences, windows and the likes, your car is not a tank and when you damage it too much it is race over. It is surprising at times how many obstacles will not stop you in your tracks but every so often a wall will remind you that you are not invincible. Whilst pedestrians are everywhere, they all have spider-man's spidersense and reaction times, no matter how hard you try you will not claim any victims.

As with Burnout Paradise, Midnight Club LA requires you to be able to read a little map whilst you car hurtles along at 150mph. I personally found I missed many a turn in Burnout and whilst it doesn't feel as bad in LA, particularly with the checkpoint races (flumes of smoke signal a chekpoint), it can still lead to a missed turn. As I mentioned earlier, shortcuts are there to be exploited but you will have to check the mini map, check where the shortcut leads, check where you need to be and decide if it is worthwhile all in the space of a split second. Midnight Club LA does feel more forgiving than Burnout Paradise, many a time in Burnout a wrong turn could end your race but LA, with more roads means you can get back on track quickly and the game also allows a bit of catchup so you can quickly make up lost ground.

I mentioned at the start of this review that LA is busy and you will find a lot of traffic to avoid, particulary at busy junctions. When you hit a non-racing car with any sort of force you will find you get a slight slowed down external view of the crash which can be quite disorientating when you are given control again and you are using the in car view as you can be facing the opposite direction that you were during the little animation.

Car handling is suitable for this game, it is hand brake turns galore and it works well. Using the slip stream of another opponent will charge up a meter on your HUD and if you stay behind for long enough you will get access to a boost. This may seem irrelevent in a paragraph about car handling but it isn't. In order to avoid being slip streamed yourself you can shift the weight in your car and go on 2 wheels Knight Rider style. It may not be very realistic but nothing stops a slip stream like a 2 wheel trick... quickly followed by your car rolling onto its roof.

Car tuning plays a big part in LA. You have access to garages, more as you progress through the career and you can spend all your money changing the performance and cosmetic attributes of your car. The cosmetic options cover all you can think of ranging from new dials on the dash to body kits and custom paint jobs all designed to make your car unique. The game allows you to show off your creations to the Xbox Live community and other players can rate and even buy a copy of your car. Nobody thought much of my unaltered Golf GTi, I thought VW did a fine job and it didn't need any customising
other than the number plate. It is interesting to see what hideous creations others come up with and when I say hideous I am being generous.

As part of the tuning you are able to buy special abilities to help you during a race. There are 4 categories each with different levels to unlock. So far the bullet time one if the only one I have used and this can be useful for a busy motorway but the slow-down doesn't last long. The abilities aren't going to be the difference between winning or losing but they can certainly help for a brief moment.

At the start of the review I mentioned this was illegal street racing and what would illegal street racing be without the police? The police will show up on your mini map and if they catch you committing any driving offences you will be chased. This happens at all times, in race or not. Adding 3 or 4 police cars to a race can liven things up but having to watch your speed (HUD shows speed limit of the road you are on) when trying to get to a race can be tedious. I find the police can be hard to shake off at times and they do not give up easily. You can stop to be arrested which then changes to the camera within the police car, wait till the cop is almost at your car and then drive off which is amusing at first but 15 minutes later when you are still trying to lose the tail it seems less funny.

Graphically the game can be impressive, the day and night cycle is good, as is the wet weather but sometimes on closer inspection it isn't quite as impressive sometimes, particularly the buildings.

Midnight Club LA is an enjoyable racer, it improves on Burnout in some ways with a bigger (feeling), busier city and making worng turns are less frequent or damaging but ultimately without the takedown aspect it loses some of the fun. There are collectables to be found in LA but this pales in comparison to Burnout's billboards and gates since the collectables are harder to spot. Overall it is a good effort which will keep you occupied for many hours before completion.

Finishes a respectable 2nd place to Burnout Paradise.

7/10
Mon 17/05/10 at 16:59
Regular
"THIS IS SPARTA!"
Posts: 109
The game is excellent. I have completed it.
Mon 08/03/10 at 01:09
Regular
Posts: 9
is a relly good game
Wed 27/01/10 at 16:17
Regular
"How Ironic"
Posts: 4,312
Never played Midnight Club, but good review :)
Wed 27/01/10 at 15:22
Regular
"And in last place.."
Posts: 2,054
With Rockstar involvement and a title like Midnight Club you could forgive the Daily Mail crowd for thinking this is a game based around some sleazy nightclubs shenanigans but no, this is a simply a racer. Fair enough it is an illegal street racing but this is Rockstar after all.

This is not a new game by any means but with a recent re-release on Classics I thought it was worth a little review.

Midnight Club LA is an open city racer where, like Burnout Paradise, you have some freedom in how you get to the finish line and a knowledge of shortcuts will benefit you greatly. It should come as no surprise that this game is set in Los Angeles but unless LA is a lot smaller than I imagine, then you don't have the entire area at your disposal although that is not to suggest the play area is small.

Comparisons with Burnout Paradise are inevitable and LA feels larger than Paradise City but I'm not sure there is much in it. I would say it definitely has more roads and there is less open space but for some reason LA feels like the bigger city. It is certainly the busier city with more cars, buildings/landmarks and pedestrians which is something Paradise City doesn't have. LA feels more alive.

The career mode is straight out of a The Fast and The Furious script. You are the new boy in town and you need to win races to build up your reputation. Each race will reward you reputation points and money which can be spent on tarting up your car or a whole new car. Naturally you are going to start out small, a mark 1 Golf GTi was my first car but it has been a trusty little servant so I can't fault it. As your money grows you will have access to much more desireable cars and motorbikes. As you progress through the game you will meet various annoying people who will give you more missions to
complete in order to progress through your career. In addition to the mission races, LA is full of other races which add to your reputation and bank balance without progressing the story. One thing you can say for Midnight Club LA is that you are never short of someone to race.

There are a variety of races with various numbers of mouthy opponents. The opponents are full of wise cracks during a race, mocking your mistakes or mocking your positioning and you will probably find most characters in this game annoying. There have been many times where I would happily stop the race to pull the opponent out of the car and give them a slap. The races themselves have several variations. There are individual races, a series of races
where points are awarded after each race, check point races, no set route races where you simply have to get to the finish line first and motorway races. The races themselves are graded, green icon for easy, yellow and orange ups things a little and red for hard but regardless of your finishing position you will get reputation and money and you can always retry failed races at any point.

Races are started by flashing your lights at an opponent and since your opponent is already driving around, there is a good chance neither of you is at the starting line so there is a little pre-race race to get involved in with some extra reputation points to be won. Of course, if you are a wild racer like me then this means your car is more or less trashed before the race starts. Crash damage plays its part in Midnight Club. As much as you can plough through lamp posts, fences, windows and the likes, your car is not a tank and when you damage it too much it is race over. It is surprising at times how many obstacles will not stop you in your tracks but every so often a wall will remind you that you are not invincible. Whilst pedestrians are everywhere, they all have spider-man's spidersense and reaction times, no matter how hard you try you will not claim any victims.

As with Burnout Paradise, Midnight Club LA requires you to be able to read a little map whilst you car hurtles along at 150mph. I personally found I missed many a turn in Burnout and whilst it doesn't feel as bad in LA, particularly with the checkpoint races (flumes of smoke signal a chekpoint), it can still lead to a missed turn. As I mentioned earlier, shortcuts are there to be exploited but you will have to check the mini map, check where the shortcut leads, check where you need to be and decide if it is worthwhile all in the space of a split second. Midnight Club LA does feel more forgiving than Burnout Paradise, many a time in Burnout a wrong turn could end your race but LA, with more roads means you can get back on track quickly and the game also allows a bit of catchup so you can quickly make up lost ground.

I mentioned at the start of this review that LA is busy and you will find a lot of traffic to avoid, particulary at busy junctions. When you hit a non-racing car with any sort of force you will find you get a slight slowed down external view of the crash which can be quite disorientating when you are given control again and you are using the in car view as you can be facing the opposite direction that you were during the little animation.

Car handling is suitable for this game, it is hand brake turns galore and it works well. Using the slip stream of another opponent will charge up a meter on your HUD and if you stay behind for long enough you will get access to a boost. This may seem irrelevent in a paragraph about car handling but it isn't. In order to avoid being slip streamed yourself you can shift the weight in your car and go on 2 wheels Knight Rider style. It may not be very realistic but nothing stops a slip stream like a 2 wheel trick... quickly followed by your car rolling onto its roof.

Car tuning plays a big part in LA. You have access to garages, more as you progress through the career and you can spend all your money changing the performance and cosmetic attributes of your car. The cosmetic options cover all you can think of ranging from new dials on the dash to body kits and custom paint jobs all designed to make your car unique. The game allows you to show off your creations to the Xbox Live community and other players can rate and even buy a copy of your car. Nobody thought much of my unaltered Golf GTi, I thought VW did a fine job and it didn't need any customising
other than the number plate. It is interesting to see what hideous creations others come up with and when I say hideous I am being generous.

As part of the tuning you are able to buy special abilities to help you during a race. There are 4 categories each with different levels to unlock. So far the bullet time one if the only one I have used and this can be useful for a busy motorway but the slow-down doesn't last long. The abilities aren't going to be the difference between winning or losing but they can certainly help for a brief moment.

At the start of the review I mentioned this was illegal street racing and what would illegal street racing be without the police? The police will show up on your mini map and if they catch you committing any driving offences you will be chased. This happens at all times, in race or not. Adding 3 or 4 police cars to a race can liven things up but having to watch your speed (HUD shows speed limit of the road you are on) when trying to get to a race can be tedious. I find the police can be hard to shake off at times and they do not give up easily. You can stop to be arrested which then changes to the camera within the police car, wait till the cop is almost at your car and then drive off which is amusing at first but 15 minutes later when you are still trying to lose the tail it seems less funny.

Graphically the game can be impressive, the day and night cycle is good, as is the wet weather but sometimes on closer inspection it isn't quite as impressive sometimes, particularly the buildings.

Midnight Club LA is an enjoyable racer, it improves on Burnout in some ways with a bigger (feeling), busier city and making worng turns are less frequent or damaging but ultimately without the takedown aspect it loses some of the fun. There are collectables to be found in LA but this pales in comparison to Burnout's billboards and gates since the collectables are harder to spot. Overall it is a good effort which will keep you occupied for many hours before completion.

Finishes a respectable 2nd place to Burnout Paradise.

7/10

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