Review by ArcaneRoc

"Midnight Club 4: Los Angeles is a thrilling success!"

Midnight Club 4: Los Angeles is a street-racing game released by Rockstar games. Midnight Club 4 follows on the heels of celebrated classics Midnight Club 2 and Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition. Midnight Club 4 is at face value a street racing game, but below the surface is so much more than that. At the beginning of the game it is revealed that you are a street racer from the East Coast, and have recently moved to Los Angeles. When you first arrive, you are ridiculed for your lack of reputation; it's your goal to change that. You'll race your way through the streets of Los Angeles from everything from a Golf to a Saleen S7 in your journey to gain ultimate respect. There are several different types of races, including Red Light Races (Race from a red light to a specific location, with no way points), Unordered Races (Race through a jumble of way points in any order before returning to the start) and Ordered Races (Race to a finish through a series of way points), among others. As you progress, you get cash with which to buy better cars, parts, and cosmetic upgrades. You also have one of special abilities; Zone, Agro, Roar, and EMP, each with its own respective benefits. Now let's examine the game in more depth:

I. Sound Effects & Music
II. Graphics
III. Game Play
IV. Career
V. XBox Live & Online Content

I. Sound Effects & Music - 9/10
There are hardly any complaints I can issue about this game's audio effects. The roaring of the engines, the shifting gears, and the maxed out RPMs all sound beautiful and realistic. The squeal of the tires is even realistic. You probably won't even pay much attention to the background music and ambient sounds because you'll be so focused on the beautiful noises emitting from your car; I know I didn't. I went so far as to turn down the music because I wanted to hear the sound effects clearer, although this isn't actually necessary, because the music in this game is pretty good. There are a lot of big name songs on the track list for this game, and there are many different genres you can play from. In fact, you can actually play songs only from specific genres by selecting it from the start options. The jokes can actually be humorous, and aren't recycled often enough to become tedious or obnoxious. My one complaint about the sounds is when you are hurled off your bike or smash into a car in a close race, your driver screams in a way that really makes you want to break your controller considering you possibly just lost the race. Other than that however, you'll love this game's awesome audio.

II. Graphics - 8/10
The graphics in this game are fantastic, when they work. Cars are lovingly constructed in game, and are incredibly realistic. Not to mention the fact that you're playing on a map that basically has been dropped into the game from real life; everything is very realistic, from the lines on the road, to the bill boards, to the gas prices! The people actually look really good, especially considering you don't even see them most of the time because you're in the car. Your car becomes deformed in areas where you take damage, and you can literally lose areas of the car if you have taken too much damage. You'll soon love your cars so much that you'll find yourself ensuring they're always in full repair so that that beautiful paint job you just finished isn't marred. My one complaint, and the reason this area lost points, is the fact that there is a graphical glitch where textures of the map load much slower than they should; so basically that beautiful expanse of road becomes a gray and green pile of slush you'll find yourself sinking through. I've literally lost races because obstacles have rendered in a delayed manner. Despite this, this is a random happening from what I've observed, so it could happen a lot (frustration!) or very rarely when you're playing.

III. Game Play - 9/10
This is where MC4: LA really shines. Although many complain of a steep learning curve, and it may be true to some point, once you get into this game you simply can't drop it. The map of Los Angeles has a ton of marked and unmarked short cuts to learn, as well as corners and highway ramps to familiarize with. Although one might think that it would get boring or repetitive playing on the map of LA over and over again, it's actually far from it. The races are varied and exciting, and like I said there are always new routes and shortcuts to find. Races are exhilarating and intense, as they have to be when you're doing 200+ MPH through a crowded city street neck-to-neck with four other super cars. Police chases feel lacking, but are fairly realistic; if you're caught, you'll be forced to fork over a hefty sum and you'll find yourself dumped off outside of the police station. Besides racing cars, you can also do time trials against yourself and other computers to try to get that top time. There is also an arcade mode where you can practice routes that are giving you trouble. Race rewards are always exciting and motivating; you'll can be rewarded a hefty sum of cash, or even a new car! But beware, in some races you can actually LOSE money through wagers, and frustratingly enough, you can actually LOSE your CAR in pink slip races, where you have one chance to race against someone; if you win, you take both cars; if they win, they take both. This game really means it! Even if you turn your console off to try to avoid having your car take, you'll still lose it when you turn your console back on! To counter the claims of this game being repetitive; yes, all games can be described to some level of repetition, but in terms of racing games, this game is at the top of the heap. In addition to racing, there is a pretty in depth customization game that allows you to completely change almost everything about your car; it can be raised, lowered, and dozens of other parts can be altered. There are tons of different paint options for your car, and when you get into vinyls, your choices are basically limitless. Vinyls are patterns you can overlay on your car, and when used creatively, they can be made to resemble just about anything.

V. Career - 9/10
This kind of goes with game play, but the career mode in this game is enough to keep you occupied for a pretty hefty amount of game time. The career mode is a lot of fun, and by playing through it you'll experience just about everything this game has to offer. There are a pretty good variety of rivals and other characters that you'll race again and again, but they use different cars and alter their tactics throughout. In addition, you'll be able to race against any number of random drivers when you just want a break. As far as racing games go, the career in this game is stellar; although it's essentially just people assigning you racing missions, it does it with a lot of style!

VI. XBox Live & Online Content - 9/10
In Midnight Club 4: Los Angeles, there are a few types of online content. It features all the expected multi player versus content, but also other cool features. There have been announcements that some huge updates via Xbox live, both paid and unpaid, will be released in early 2009. The coolest features however, in my opinion, are the Rockstar Social Club features. There is the Driver's License test, where it tracks your achievements in game and records them on a chart of twelve possible statistics. At four, eight, and twelve achievements completed, you unlock cool and exciting rewards, including the much-sought-after Audi R8! There is also the Rockstar Rate-My-Ride where players review customized cars and vote on them; they can also purchase them where they are downloaded to a player's Xbox and appear in their garage. All-in-all, the online content is what was expected and more.

Overall: 9/10 (Not an average)
Midnight Club 4: Los Angeles is a very exciting and successful street racing game that everybody can enjoy. It really does have something for everybody, and despite a few minor issues, it really is the racing game to play.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/05/09

Game Release: Midnight Club: Los Angeles (US, 10/20/08)

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