Midnight Club: Los Angeles - first look

Sept 07, 2007

Rockstar big willy Sam Houser has said that for Midnight Club: Los Angeles its San Diego studio is looking to "redefine the idea of a completely immersive racing game experience, both offline and online." Them's some mighty ambitious words, but can they actually translate into something meaningful for avid motor-headed gamers?

After a fast and furious demo of the street-savvy street racer, we'd have to say that things are looking very, very sexy indeed and Rockstar certainly seems to be hurtling the right way along the immersion highway, thanks to gorgeous visuals, some nifty camera techniques and, most important of all, the freedom to cruise and race without stalling the action.

Designed for optimum foot-to-the-floor thrills - as opposed to serving as a pinpoint street map for LA locals - the City of Angels promises to provide an irresistible and absolutely enormous arena for speed freaks. The straight roads, tight corners and skinny alleyways we saw in the demo screamed "Drive me hard and spank me with your burning rubber." Not literally, though. That was just a lady's voice in our head.

Already we can't wait to sample some of LA's other locales - cruising Santa Monica at sunset or racing through the Hollywood Hills at night (did we mention the new dynamic day/night cycle?) should be quite a ride.

And even though we had to take the role of backseat spectator (strictly no hands-on), the ride was a blast. Fast, thrilling and - buzz word alert - cinematic. Yes, if you choose the aptly named 'cinematic' perspective, high-drama moments are given the visual va-va-voom they so absolutely deserve. A bracing acceleration, burst of nitrous, lift of air, drifting round corners, catching slipstream - all prompt Hollywood tricks that look more than trashy gimmicks, seeming to add more weight, more substance, more velocity to the on-screen motor storm.