Review by Ray_Splasher

"Disappointing."

I'll admit that I've never been much of a fan of racing games. Ever since the NES days, I've stuck with pretty much every genre but sports and racing. One day a year and a half ago, however, I was a bit bored with the current game selection when I turned on the television and caught the commercial for Midnight Club II. Normally I'd pay no attention, but this particular ad captivated me. Why?

The music.

I was most likely preoccupied with something else at the time, but once I heard that thumping trance beat, my eyes were transfixed to the screen. As I watched, I saw shots of cars, streets, and high-octane racing. Wondering what correlation this could have to the amazing music in the background, I kept watching. At the end, once the song reached a climax of awesomeness, the words flashed on the screen. "Midnight Club II." I decided right then and there that I had to buy this game.

Driving down to the mall, that song was stuck in my head the entire time. Never before have I experienced greater anticipation than on that day; I would soon own Midnight Club II and be able to listen to that song once again, this time with a PS2 controller in hand. Pure bliss.

That's just a bit of back story, so now I'll get to the actual review.

Graphics (8/10): Standard PS2 fare. That said, they're pretty good The frame rate doesn't seem to slow down, which is vital in any racing game. The textures may not be incredibly smooth, but they get the job done, so to speak.

Gameplay (8/10): It gets off to a slow start, but as you progress through Midnight Club II, it gets more fun and more challenging. The main game works like a story mode, as you meet new characters while earning new cars and new tricks/abilities. For example, after a few races, you earn the "burnout" ability, which allows you to get off to a quicker start and therefore get the jump on your opponent. These types of upgrades work well with the difficulty; as the game gets more challenging, you earn more abilities/better vehicles in order to tackle your races. In this way, Midnight Club II achieves a perfect balance.

Unfortunately, the game doesn't offer much variety. It basically consists of individual challenges separated out like "missions," where you'll either compete against a group of racers or one hotshot. If you want something different in a racing game, then Midnight Club II is not for you.

That said, the game is good at what it intends to do: provide a basic fun and fast racing experience. For this, I'll give the gameplay a good score.

Story (2/10): A story in a racing game? Yes, this game has somewhat of one, as you have to have some incentive to take on these challengers. Naturally, it's a really weak and almost non-existent plot. But hey, in a game like this, story has no importance whatsoever.

Okay, I bet all of you are wondering, "So why the score of 1/10?"

Music (0/10): This aspect of Midnight Club II singlehandedly ruined the entire game, turning what could have been an enjoyable racer into mere rubbish.

As I mentioned earlier in the review, words cannot describe the level of anticipation I had before purchasing this game. So when I got home, I practically broke the disc while popping it into my PS2. But once I did so, I eagerly booted the game up and began racing.

Things seemed a bit strange to me, though; I wasn't hearing that techno song from the commercial. I opened up the start menu, went to the audio section, and selected the next track. Nope, that wasn't it either. I began to grow increasingly nervous as I cycled through the tracks, still not hearing the amazing music I had anticipated so strongly.

Suddenly, it went back to track 1.

That's when I realized it: The song from the commercial isn't in the game.

I was crushed, and the lack of that incredible trance rhythm destroyed any chance I might have had of enjoying the game. Playing Midnight Club II without this song is like playing Mario without platforming, Zelda without puzzle solving, Metal Gear Solid without stealth, or Grand Theft Auto without the ability to savagely beat old women and steal their money. The most crucial element of the game is gone, making it utterly worthless.

Overall (1/10):

Midnight Club II is the definitive example of a game not living up to the hype. Many cite Halo 2, Fable, or Metal Gear Solid 2 in this area, but none of them even come close to Midnight Club II. This game redefines the meaning of the word "disappointment."

Without a driving force behind it, no game can succeed. Few games lack this, but Midnight Club II is one of them. And the complete absence of that awesome trance song transforms this game from a surefire 10/10 into one of the biggest letdowns in video game history.


Reviewer's Score: 1/10 | Originally Posted: 05/03/05


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