Review by Nightfall

"Midnight Club? No. More like Inner City Demoltion"

I've got mixed feelings about this bag. While the game retains much of the same flavor as the original Midnight Club, a number of changes have been implemented to stir up the mixture. These changes are cool when viewed in their own right, but they also have a bad side. Put all these changes together and you have one big chaotic mess that isn't so much street racing as it is Inner City Demolition Derby. Let me briefly list the primary changes that distinguish this game from its predecessor.

NITRO/TURBO BOOSTS MULTIPLIED BY A HUNDRED
While in the first game, the nitrous gave your car a nice nudge forward, in this game, it literally rockets your car four or five hundred feet down the road, with motion blur and tunnel effect. Control becomes almost a nil factor.

COPS ARE MORE AGGRESSIVE AND NUMEROUS

COLLISIONS ARE A MAJOR FACTOR IN THE GAME NOW. Whereas before you didn't have to worry much about hitting other cars or objects, this game penalizes you severely for such collisions, and there is a LOT more stuff to collide with.

WEIGHT TRANSFER options. You can control the pitch of your car in mid air.

SLIPSTREAM TURBO. Siphon a turbo boost by riding in your opponent's wake.

BURNOUTS. Burning out enables your car to take off from a stationary position much faster.

TRAFFIC GETS IN THE WAY MORE OFTEN, and as I said before, hitting another car seriously screws you up.

OPPONENT AI DELIBERATELY TRIES TO TAKE YOU OUT, even sacrificing their own position/racing line to do so.

Like I said, viewed independently, these changes are cool, and would seem to make the racing experience a lot more fun. But all these changes as a whole conspire to undermine the focused racing experience that was the first Midnight Club and turn it into something completely different. To put it bluntly, the racing in this game is just a jumbled, insane, chaotic mess that is much more like, as I said before, an inner city demolition derby. In the first game, you could pretty much focus on the racing, on hitting the turns just right, finding shortcuts, mowing down pedestrians, etc. In MC 2, you will find yourself constantly colliding with other cars and objects that bring your car to a dead stop, and the nitro boosts you use to help make up for that will more often than not send you careening right into another wall, telephone pole, or car. Opponent racers will often sacrifice themselves just to screw you up. They would rather drive you into a wall and crash themselves than try to maintain their own position in the race. Trying to keep one eye on the track map to decide the best way to get to the next checkpoint, and fighting all manner of things onscreen conspiring to stop you is just a little too much. I loved the first Midnight Club, and I was pretty dang good at it too. While some complained that the first game was too hard, I actually found it to be a little too easy. So don't get any ideas that I'm just lousy at racing games. I simply think that the racing in MC 2 is just too chaotic. I found there to be other disappointments as well in non-gameplay areas. For instance, the car models don't look near as good as they did in the first game, and the option to finely tweak the color of your ride is no longer there. The music in the game, aside from the opening spooky/serious theme, sucks. It's all rap and techno, and it's damn time somebody shouted out to the world, RAP SUCKS.

The game does have its moments, like when you are actually flying down a street and not colliding with anything. Or when you come out of that handbrake turn just right in front of another opponent. The great racing experience is there, if you can find it amidst the melee of traffic, telephone poles, barricades, idiot opponents, quirky shortcuts designed to make you wreck, and the constant verbal harassing by your opponents and the cops. It's probably great fun for some, but not for others. Fans of the first game should be aware of this difference before buying the game. Let me sum it up this way: the most fun I've had playing this game is in Cruise mode, when it's just me and the city. That's not the way it should be folks. I just think any racing game should be about the racing, and not about how badly I can wreck my car.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 04/25/03, Updated 04/25/03


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