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Midnight Club: Los Angeles review

AT A GLANCE
  • Working up from banger to babe magnet
  • The balance of the car handling
  • The uninterrupted gameplay
  • Being trash talked by cocky street racers
  • Wasting all your tuning money on fancy paint
  • Being knocked off your bike on the last turn

From the first second we glimpsed the scabby, multi-coloured Volkswagen Sirocco that would become our four-wheeled friend for the foreseeable future, we knew that we were going to love Midnight Club Los Angeles. Not just because we owned something pretty similar, with its primer-painted doors and scratched bodywork, when we first got hold of a driving licence, but because when we finally got the opportunity to fire up the seven-litre V8 of a $580,000 Saleen S7 it would be all the sweeter…

Getting to the stage where we could cane such high-speed exotica through a highly-detailed recreation of LA, of course, requires something very important in the world of Midnight Club – reputation. A currency that can only be earned by taking on and beating the best street racers the city has to offer in point-to-point, traffic light or circuit races. Or by leading a troop of police Crown Victoria’s on a merry chase – occasionally on two wheels – through back alleys, shopping malls and parks in order to evade a spell behind bars.

If this sounds familiar to previous Midnight Club games then guess what – you’re right. While other titles in the street racing genre may have been nipped and tucked and turned into something different each year, Midnight Club Los Angeles is definitely an evolution rather than a revolution. Developers Rockstar San Diego obviously knew they had a winning formula, so have been perfecting their art of free-roaming street racing for the best part of a decade. And you can tell.

That’s not to say that Midnight Club Los Angeles has rested on the laurels of its success with Midnight Club: DUB Edition. In fact, as this is the first in the series on current-gen technology, Rockstar San Diego have been given the perfect excuse to make Midnight Club Los Angeles the best in the series.

Most notable are the impressive production values. DUB may have been a rappers delight of bling-tastic proportions, but MC LA has been given the full GTA treatment, extending beyond the use of its RAGE Engine; a full cast of characters in storyline cut-scenes, a pounding soundtrack and an eclectic collection of cars and bikes that most of us would be more likely to have as posters on our walls rather than, sadly, in our garages.

You also won’t fail to notice the seamless gameplay. Rockstar San Diego have clearly worked hard to provide an uninterrupted gaming experience. Okay, so the freedom to zoom out from your car to a full city overview in order to locate your next challenge might have been something we’ve already seen with the likes of Test Drive: Unlimited and Burnout: Paradise. But Midnight Club Los Angeles has presented a game with loading screens you can count on one finger and only the briefest of pauses before you enter your garage or plot-driven event.

Either way, you’ll be spending a lot of your time down on the tarmac and in the action. Here, you’ll not only be driving through every hour of the night and day but through different weather conditions too. If you don’t know the streets of LA already, you’ll soon start to – even though they’re streamlined versions created for optimum racing entertainment.

Obviously, these new additions would count for very little if the driving experience was underwhelming. But if you’ve ever played a Midnight Club game before, the arcade handling will be more than familiar.

Po-faced simulation is nowhere to be seen. Instead, outlandish power-slides, outrageous handbrake turns and seat-of-your-pants traffic dodging is combined with a weight to the cars that requires a degree of driving skill that prevents MC LA being written off as a lightweight racer. Something that’ll be further reinforced after you’ve hung onto a screaming superbike and darted through obstacles that threaten to turn you into man jam.

Adding an extra layer of strategy to events is the return of ‘power-up’ skills from DUB Edition. Only this time, Zone, Agro, Roar and new skill EMP (which briefly disables surrounding cars) can be applied to any vehicle. So, if you fancy a bike that can smash other vehicles out the way, well, there’s nothing stopping you…

Some might argue that the ‘street racing thing’ peaked a couple of years after The Fast And The Furious and every publisher with two pennies had a game where you could stick neon lights under a car. But think about it – how many are there now? The original Midnight Club not only pre-dated the aforementioned film but has survived since relatively unchanged – something only a truly competent racing game could do.

By sticking to its roots, Midnight Club Los Angeles may not be a master of innovation, but as one of the most polished, finely honed and adrenaline-filled racing games, you won’t find any that do it better. You’ll love your time in the City of Angels...

More Info

Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Racing
Published by: Rockstar Games
Developed by: Rockstar San Diego
Franchise: Midnight Club

17 comments

  • cped - December 10, 2008 9:43 p.m.

    how many players is it offline?
  • xXJokerQuiterXx - December 4, 2008 4:52 a.m.

    which should i get nfs undercover or this
  • EvilZeus - October 21, 2008 12:17 a.m.

    i liked dub edition, i think it was called, if im thinking of the right game series, cuz you can go flying off motorcycles. the end.
  • Manny-Faces - October 21, 2008 12:03 a.m.

    i luv the midnight club series but they need to release a game similar to Test Drive: Eve of destruction XD
  • flare149 - October 20, 2008 7:41 p.m.

    With all the other stuff coming out, me neither I'll probably check it out this summer or something when it's only $30
  • Xplosive59 - October 27, 2008 11:02 a.m.

    this looks much better than the new nfs nfs went downhill in my opinion after most wanted
  • Quickswitch79 - October 26, 2008 11:08 a.m.

    I've always enjoyed Midnight Club. The handling's always been spot on - just right between realistic and arcade. It absolutely whups Need For Speed in my opinion.
  • NFSFreak12 - October 22, 2008 2:49 a.m.

    Midnight Club Los Angeles is one of the best racing games i have ever played, besides NFSMW..of course. This game has amazing graphics and an unimaginable amount of customizible options. And yes DUB is associated with this game as it was in Midnight Club 3. I recommend this game to everyone who enjoys street racing games.
  • Pablos102030 - October 21, 2008 10:55 p.m.

    MCLA, LBP, and CODWAW are all I care about this holiday season. I'll pick this up soon enough...
  • gorillazbmx6 - October 21, 2008 8:15 p.m.

    i picked up rockband 2 and i was thinking about getting lbp or this but i will have to pick those up around christmas bcuz i have almost no money now
  • Scotch - October 21, 2008 12:51 a.m.

    i have always LOVED these games (especially in two where yo can do the machine gun cheat :p) and its always been a really fun, well done racing game. i will most likley buy this (iv recently said poo poo to guitar hero tour whateverthefuck)and hopefully this is better than the new burnout game (which i loved three to death but the new one was fun for like...i dont know...a week?)
  • Tikicobra - October 20, 2008 6:47 p.m.

    How about a useful comment? It's good to see that it's fun, I guess, but I have no interest in this game. At all.
  • xcroptic - October 20, 2008 6:31 p.m.

    Firsty :D
  • GameCraze - May 26, 2009 2:29 a.m.

    This game looks great, and everyone I know who's played this sounds pretty satisfied with their money's worth. I don't see any flaws with it so far, so I'm really wanting to buy it. [I recommend this game to street racing game fans. I would choose this game over NFS Undercover, for those who don't know what to pick between the two, and I've been playing street racing games for as long as I remember, and I know what's hot and what's not.]
  • xgented - May 13, 2009 12:50 p.m.

    how do u restart the game i dont no how 2 do it sum1 plz help =(
  • CaptainRex - August 12, 2009 10:27 p.m.

    I'm not alowed to get Grand Theft Auto 4. So this game is simalar and I'm allowed to get it. It has packages with awesome cars.It is a good game to get even if u can't get out of cars.
  • FLEXO94 - April 21, 2009 8:14 p.m.

    BEST MIDNIGHT CLUB EVA!

Showing 1-17 of 17 comments

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