Review by TheSpartan117

"Rockstar Games shows once again why they are one of the upcoming gaming companies in America."

Introduction: Rockstar's Midnight Club II franchise proves that a non-Gran Turismo/Need for Speed game can compete in today's watered-down racing genre. Midnight Club II is an arcade street racing game that covers three cities: Los Angeles, Paris, and Tokyo. I've never played the first game, but after playing this, I don't see why I should.

Graphics/Sound: The graphics are bar none superb. Picking up the game and watching Los Angeles wash by you at 165 miles per hour will blow you away. The characters, in contrast to a certain other Rockstar game, are beautifully designed with their own personality and flavor. But, the characters go hand in hand with the sound, a downfall of the game. The music is fine; I had no problem listening to hip-hop in Los Angeles, Techno in European Paris, et cetra, but my problem came with the repetitive nature of the characters, in-race. Hearing a foe chant, ''I am the king of these LA roads,'' while you are smoking him is a bit tongue-in-cheek. I had no other problems with the sound, except for one time when the music and voice audio seemed to skip. But, the graphics are absolutely gorgeous. Each city is digitally designed for a modern feel, while realistically keeping their characteristics. The vehicles themselves are great, and damage is dealt, but not too strictly.
Score: 9/10

Gameplay: The game is divided into cruising cities, circuits, career mode, battle modes, and race editor. Cruise allows you to test out new vehicles and cities, provided you have unlocked them in career mode. Circuit races are an exhibition function, only with multiple laps. Battle modes, are just that, but the online addition makes it a nice little mini-game. Well, since the dead wood is cut, I will get to the creme filling: career mode. In career mode, you get your foot in the street racing world by racing Moses, a racer in Los Angeles that seems to have some connections. After that, the career mode works in a pattern, almost. You cruise to find other racers, let them know you want to race, and then follow them to a location. Once there, the ''boss'' or racer will challenge you, usually with 4 or 5 other racers. These races consist of checkpoints, most of which in a linear fashion. In the cruising mode, you might find up to 3 different racers, but each one seems to be harder than the other. Once you beat the racer once, he or she will usually challenge you for a final race, only this time, they will grant you their signature racing car, yours for the racing. There is a city champion for each city, and they always seem to pull out all the stops to try and defeat you. One of the cool features is learning different techniques over time. Early on, you get one nitrous tank in a vehicle, but over time you can get up to unlimited, determined if you can get enough draft, using the slip stream turbo. The cities are laid out beautifully, as well. They are each chock-full of short-cuts, buildings you can fly through, ramps, tunnels, and alleys.
Score: 10/10

Play time/Replayability: It might take one a good while to complete this game. For each race, it takes repetition to get used to the location of the checkpoints, as well as perfecting your skill. Replayability may seem limited here, as the career mode may seem replayable a while after you beat it, but that's it. The online game is fun enough with a battle system with weapons, a la Mario Kart or Twisted Metal. But, the play time is one of the game's greatest assets, as you might enjoy taking time to beat Midnight Club II.
Score: 7/10

Final Recommendations: Like most of my favorite games in my library, I rented this game first and later bought it. You might want to rent this one first, too, to see if you want to buy it. I would say that this a really great arcade game with a huge career mode, but you might want to rent it first.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 05/31/03, Updated 05/31/03

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