Review by Wolf Feather

"A Worthy Sequel!!!"

The original Midnight Club: Street Racing is certainly worthy of its Greatest Hits status in North America. One of the titles which were available at the launch of the PlayStation2, the game provides excellent replay value with a lengthy Career Mode and other modes such as Capture the Flag, each making use of the pedestrians, traffic, shortcuts, and spectacular jumps in both New York City and London.

Midnight Club 2 is even better. Graphically, there is no comparison between the two games. Many players would probably have been satisfied with the same graphics engine as the original Midnight Club: Street Racing, so long as the gameplay was just as good or even better. Fortunately, both the gameplay AND the graphics are greatly enhanced in Midnight Club 2. Specific to the graphics and the physics of the game is the vehicle damage, which becomes more prominent as the player destroys the car; unfortunately, non-player vehicles do not tend to take much damage, if any, which is probably a necessary concession to keep from using too much CPU power to remember and then render all the vehicle damage to ''innocent bystanders.''

Part of what makes Midnight Club: Street Racing so fun and memorable is the pedestrians. While they are really, really dumb, they do have some funny catch-phrases, and they look really spectacular when flying through the air after having been hit by a vehicle traveling on the edge of control (or perhaps beyond it) at high speed. Midnight Club 2 - taking place in Los Angeles, Paris, and Tokyo - continues this excellent ''tradition'' in relation to the pedestrians, although the pedestrians in Paris and Tokyo tend to speak more often in English than in these cities' mother tongues.

New York and London in Midnight Club: Street Racing are well-presented. For someone familiar with or resident of either city, the atmosphere and the architecture are readily apparent, with many of the famous landmarks or areas; numerous shortcuts and jumps make New York and London quite fun, especially in Capture the Flag Mode. Midnight Club 2 comprises all this in its three cities (Los Angeles, Paris, and Tokyo), with the racing action becoming more technical as the player progresses to each city in the game. Of particular interest, Paris includes both underground tunnel roadways and its famous catacombs, while Tokyo includes underground highways and above-ground subway lines. Specific to Tokyo, with many highways running almost directly above the surface streets, trying to locate the exact position of a checkpoint or a flag on the on-screen map can be extremely tricky; this is also somewhat of an issue in Paris, but not quite to the extreme as in Tokyo.

Perhaps two new additions to the Midnight Club series will truly draw in players. First, motorcycles are added to the available vehicle line-up in Midnight Club 2; the player must win all but the initial vehicle by defeating rivals in each city. Second, Race Editor Mode allows the player to create unique events in each unlocked city in the game; with fifteen race slots available per city, there is plenty of room for variety.

One of the main selling points of Midnight Club 2 is the featured online play. However, those without online capabilities can still greatly enjoy this game. There is no doubt that Midnight Club 2 will outsell its predecessor. Hopefully Midnight Club 3 is already in the planning stages :-)

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 04/15/03, Updated 04/15/03

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