Midnight Club: Los Angeles - game review

Date: 2008-11-17 09:18:00
The review was based on the PS3 version. Also applies to the X360 version

The Midnight Club series is definitely not Rockstar Games' trademark. However, it is worth knowing that the graphics engine called Rage contributed not only to the creation of Liberty City, but also to the construction of a virtual city of fallen angels. This is where the action of the new part of MC racing with the subtitle Los Angeles takes place. After a short absence, this racer lands on the new generation consoles and stands up to the title of the king of the genre. Does he have any chance?

We start the game as an unknown, bald rookie, sponsored by Pirelli. Apparently, this company, producing tires and calendars, relies on young minds or does not like publicity. Our task is to win several dozen races or their series to become the best and gain the greatest respect among others. The plot is not the strongest element of the game, but it is not the most important part of this type of productions. It is worth adding, however, that the characters appearing in the scenes are natural, and the conversations between them contain a large dose of humor. We choose one of the available cars and set off to conquer the streets.

However, story races are not everything. We can challenge any driver we meet at the intersection to a duel at any time. All we need to do is flash our long lights a few times and this one is already moving forward. Unless the police are nearby, then they will tell us that they don't want to risk and give us a starting point. In addition, we have a choice of modes known from other racing games, such as: Tournament, Free Trial, Time Trial, Delivery Mission (time trial with a penalty for padding the car), Wager Race (race for money), Pink Slip Race (the winner takes the car the loser), Payback Mission (we destroy the opponent's car) and Capture the Flag, known from FPP games. There is also a racing editor for creative players. We cannot be bored, and the game's storyline perfectly harmonizes with additional events.

Police patrols are a big surprise in the Midnight Club series. They are not a big problem during the race, but during slow driving around the city, they can stick to us like the proverbial Velcro. In this situation, we have two options. We can pull over to the side of the road, pay a small amount and drive away, or we can wait for the cop to approach our car and put the pedal to the metal. Escaping is fun at first, but later it happens more often than we would like. If we are caught then, we pay a high fine, and in addition, we land at the police station, several dozen kilometers away from the place where we were headed.

The difficulty of the game is quite high. The opponents controlled by the console have no hesitation in driving our way and pushing us out of the route, and they know a lot of shortcuts. A bit annoying is the fact that they always have better equipment than us and at the start of the race they are a good 50-100m ahead. Fortunately, they make many mistakes, which allows them to win with a much weaker car. Most street fights are linked in series. This means we have to win several races and we cannot rely on one victory. This additionally sets the bar higher.

All our actions are rewarded with reputation points. Thanks to them, we get new titles, such as: rookie, racer or elite. This allows you to buy or replace various types of parts for our cart. Even if we have the right amount of cash, we will get access to all improvements only after receiving the appropriate title. It's a bit weird, but those are the rules at Midnight Club Los Angeles. In the previous section, it was possible to obtain special skills for cars from a given category. It is similar here. We can equip our car with one of the four available gadgets. The first is the so-called Agro. Thanks to it, our car becomes indestructible and has the properties of a tank. The second feature is Zone, which slows down time and allows you to easily navigate traffic jams. The next one is the Roar, a powerful shock wave that knocks aside everything in front of the car. The last facilitation is EMP - an electromagnetic pulse that disrupts the operation of all components of enemy cars.

The driving model has little to do with reality. The car skids effectively and is easy to control, slowing down before the turn is not required, and hitting the board allows you to overcome it faster. Nevertheless, the difference in driving is palpable and, more importantly, realistic. As in Need for Speed Carbon, they have been divided into groups: muscle cars, tuners, exotics, and Midnight Club LA adds the luxury category. American cars are the hardest to master. They are equipped with huge engines, but their steerability leaves much to be desired. Front-wheel drive cars behave differently than rear-wheel or four-wheel drive cars. Traction control, ABS and other systems that some cars are equipped with are also very realistic and you can almost feel them while driving.

There are over 40 licensed cars in the game (including motorbikes) from brands such as Nissan, Mercedes, Mazda, Audi, Mitsubishi, Ford, Lamborghini and Chrysler. The level of detail reproduction, both inside and outside the cars, is very high. A lot of work was also put into the vehicle damage system. Any abrasions on the surface of the paint, dents in the car body, broken lamps look very convincing. The customization of vehicles is also based on licensed parts. We can change almost everything, from the bumpers to the air intakes, to the steering wheel and the seats. The possibilities are huge and practically limited only by our imagination.

The city of fallen angels was reproduced perfectly. Although it is not in the game in its entirety, every landmark of LA, such as Westwood, Hollywood, Santa Monica or Beverly Hills, is present in the game and we can easily find them. The metropolis is huge and varied in terms of development. Nowhere do we find a series of the same buildings stretching for more than two blocks. The whole area is surrounded by a wide highway, with one-way roads and numerous shortcuts. Winning often depends on them, and learning them all, and more importantly, using them in the middle of a race, isn't easy. A map, actually two types of it, comes to the rescue here. The first one, visible in the lower left corner of the screen, is straight from the Grand Theft Auto series. The second one is started with the select (back) button. The camera flies up and shows the entire city from a bird's eye view. From this perspective, we can freely choose between the events we want to participate in. Interestingly, the game does not stop and our car is in motion all the time.

The environment in which we are going to race looks very impressive. The cars we pass look no worse than our vehicle, and the passers-by panic and run away from oncoming cars. A special engine is responsible for the weather effects, which allows the weather to change in real time. We are used to these types of effects, but they are still rare in racing games. When we drive over 150 km / h, everything starts to blur and perfectly reflect the speed at which we are actually moving.

Thanks to this, the game is very dynamic from the very first minutes and does not allow you to take your eyes off the screen. The effect is intensified by the so-called action cam - camera, the view from which differs from the classic view "behind the car" in that it is constantly in motion. It glides sideways, sticks to the car after firing the turbo, etc. It's like a trifle, but thanks to it the gameplay is very effective.

Rockstar has already got us used to great soundtracks in their products, and Midnight Club Los Angeles is no exception to this rule. While driving, we can listen to songs by Snoop Dog, Bloc Party, Nine Inch Nails, Chemical Brothers and other artists. The music fits the atmosphere of the races and LA, and is by no means disturbing. The sound effects are also great. The engines sound as they should, and the screeching tires and the squeaking of the sheet metal are first class.

Despite all these advantages, the developers did not avoid a few mistakes. The most striking features are the low-quality textures of the ground and some buildings. During the race it is almost imperceptible, but when we are hanging around the city it is all too visible. Compared to its predecessor, environmental damage has been significantly reduced. No more cutting down lanterns with impunity! Only garbage cans, cartons, stops and some storefronts remain. It may also irritate the fact that the authors, in order to avoid a higher age category, resigned from diverting passers-by, vulgar texts and various sexual allusions.

All in all, Midnight Club Los Angeles is a great racing game. The virtual city of angels is great. It is elaborate, extensive and even encourages exploration. The cars were reproduced with great attention to detail, and the difference in driving them is noticeable. A refined model of damage and a high level of difficulty will not allow us to quickly move away from the screen. For this polished graphics, a spectacular view with action cam and multiplayer for 16 players. What more could you want? It is really worth playing in Midnight Club LA , the more so that we cannot wait for a better racer this year.

Mikołaj "MiKaS" Królewski

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