LA Remix is the series’ second foray onto PSP. The last game, MC3: DUB Edition, was a massive hit Stateside, and in the UK it was the best-selling racing game on the PSP. This year could be a similar story as well, as LA Remix is easily the best racer to go portable in 2008.
The real secret to Midnight Club’s success is that it avoids so many of the banana skins slipped on by other street racers whilst retaining the air of effortless cool you’d expect from the makers of Grand Theft Auto. It never uses gameplay gimmicks to try and appear fresh and funky, nor does it desperately follow in the tyre-marks of other games it’s dying to better. Midnight Club is pure, arcade-style street racing and is all the better for it.
You start off with a low-end set of wheels and a head full of dreams about being the fastest in the City of Angels. You race through checkpoints, you earn money, you earn reputation, you buy better cars – it isn’t rocket science.
Navigating through the streets of LA on the PSP’s smaller screen is effortless thanks to the amount of detail Rockstar has managed to cram into the game. Even with dense traffic, the game never slows down or judders. It’s a real technical achievement. The sound is top-notch too – on a par with the game’s 360/PS3 cousins – and it’s easy to get drawn into the world the developer has created.
And LA Remix even gives you a little more asphalt for your pound than the home console versions. You see, in addition to Los Angeles, Rockstar has decided to chuck in a whole other city - Tokyo - for free. There’s an entirley new career to be tackled in the Japanese capital and you can race there in the game’s arcade and multiplayer modes.
Impressively, the game takes full advantage of the PSP’s analogue stick giving it an incredibly responsive feel. You’re given a sense of total control over each vehicle and the subtle nuances between the cars and bikes are instantly apparent.
Modding options are limited next to the likes of Need For Speed and Juiced, but unless you’re a total four-wheel fanatic, there’s nothing more annoying than getting bogged down in endless choices of colours and vinyls. LA Remix gets the customisation options spot on and regardless of your taste, every car you create somehow looks great.
You’ll need your vehicles to look good should you decide to take advantage of the game’s multiplayer. Available for up to four players via a local WiFi connection, Midnight Club’s multiplayer has everything from standard checkpointed races through to battle games like Capture the Flag and Paint (where you ‘trade paint’ with/slam into other racers to earn points).
Add up all this goodness - more roads, modes and blistering speed than you can shake a spoiler at - and you get a top-class PSP game which is without doubt the handheld racer of the year and the finest street racer to grace the PSP.