Reviewed: May 12, 2005
Released: April 12, 2005
As most of you know Midnight Club 3 is the sequel to the extremely popular Midnight Club 2. This time around Rockstar Games has joined forces with DUB Magazine (automotive lifestyles magazine), in an attempt to redefine the racing genre with Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition. The series that originally took racing from tracks to the open urban streets is back in style and faster than anything youíve ever seen in a video game.
The PS2 version of Midnight Club 3 features:
Here at GCM we pull out all the stops when reviewing new games for you. The same applies here as we got out the Logitech GT force wheel that weíd been using for Gran Turismo 4. After playing Midnight Club 3 for an hour with the force wheel the verdict is in. This wheel is awesome in the sense that it actually feels like you are in the car driving it, but turning the wheel is a major problem.
The issue is that Midnight Club 3 is an arcade style racing game that requires super fast reaction times and turning that can only be done using the standard PS2 controller. Turning with the force wheel not only takes to much time to do, but also requires a lot of arm strength. Now Iím not saying that you or I arenít strong, but turning the wheel for several hours is like raking leaves. Itís easy at first, but becomes more strenuous the longer you do it.
One thing the wheel does exceptionally well in Midnight Club 3 is that it really gives you the correct feel for each type of surface you are driving on, just like Gran Turismo 4 does. Itís amazing to drive over a brick road and for it to actually feel like you are doing it. If you have enough arm strength and super fast reaction speed the force wheel might be for you, but Iíd recommend using the standard controller. It not only offers you quicker reaction speed, but also offers you more total control over your car. Although the force wheel has precision controlling, it just doesnít work as well for arcade racing games like Midnight Club 3.
When it comes to sense of speed, Midnight Club 3 captures it amazingly well. For whatever reason Iím always at the edge of my seat, leaning forward, trying to keep myself from blinking and making some stupid last second mistake which could put me into the wall instead of over the finish line. When it comes to nitrous oxide and special speed boosts, Midnight Club 3 offers it up in style. You can boost off the starting line by using the hand brake and releasing it on time or give yourself a nice slipstream boost when you are trailing an opponent. Everything in Midnight Club 3 is done in such a way that the controls come naturally while allowing you to race in an open city environment.
As far as the actual cities are concerned, Rockstar has recreated several of the most complex and attractive cities to race in (Atlanta, San Diego, and Detroit). Racing through them is a total blast and makes me want to visit these cities. In fact, I found these cities more enjoyable to race in than the single super-city in NFSUG2.
The reason is that the cities are filled with hundreds of secret alleys and passages that you can drive through. More so, they have many big ramps that you can fly off of for crazy air. One will even shoot you onto a series of building roofs where you fall down onto building after building like you are going down stairs. Itís really cool and I can honestly say no other game is more fun to just drive around in.
One weak point this game has is that you will never feel vulnerable to being hit unless itís towards the end of the race. You just get the sense that you are invincible and nothing will stop you. While racing you never feel like getting hit head on will prevent you from winning because of the awesome turbo feature that you build up while trailing close behind one of your opponents. After your turbo meter is full you can slam down on the slipstream turbo button and shoot by nearly everyone ahead of you, even if that means blowing by 6 other competitors to claim first place, itís truly an exhilarating experience.
One of Midnight Club 3's best features is that it has a wonderful sense of scale. Everything from the shrubs, to buildings, to the sky is perfectly sized and will immerse you like no other virtual city. I actually felt like it had a better sense of scale than Rockstarís golden child, Grand Theft Auto.
Graphically, Dub is excellent, but falls short of the Xbox version. Mainly because things are less defined in the PS2 version, while the Xbox one supports 480p and looks gorgeous in high def. Donít get me wrong, this game is very pretty and you will enjoy the cool subtle details when you arenít flying through the cities at blinding speeds.
One thing I noticed is that the streets are detailed and drawn in while you race. Every so often you will be placed in the city and the street detail will be filled in while you watch. Things like this take you out of the game and remind you that itís only a virtual world you are racing in. Although this isnít a major issue, itís one that should have been taken care of during the loading process.
Everything from blurring head and taillights to lampposts is in here, which give you a great sense of speed. It also has an awesome draw distance and is very colorful. Cars can be very colorful as well, especially if you spend the extra money to make them whatever color you desire. The car models look awesome, with nearly as much detail as Underground 2, but nothing can touch Gran Turismo 4, thatís a given. But as far as an action, street-racing game is concerned; these models are excellent, with more customization options than you can list off.
Sound is a funny thing, a game either has great sound or it doesnít. Midnight Club 3 has it in style and is packed with over 100 modern songs ranging from hip-hop to techno. Truth be told, I donít love these songs, but they arenít bad in my opinion. For people who listen to the radio, these songs are for you. The music isnít the only strong point that Midnight Club 3 offers; the sound effects are top notch as well.
Everything youíd expect and more is packed into this game to give you a real sense of speed. For example, when you fly by a cars, thereís a whoosh noise and when you turbo it sounds like a bomb is preparing to explode. To sum it up, nearly everything in the game has a unique sound effect, from burning rubber, to the engines revving up; each one adds to the realism and style that is Midnight Club Dub Edition.
This game lacks a story mode, or any other purpose to keep playing the game other than to earn money to buy cars and beef them up. The only reason I can say that this game is worth a purchase is because it offers up something you canít find in any other game, the fastest racing experience. And it has everything else a racing game should have: good music selection, great sound effects, great graphics, solid controls, great selection of cars, tons of races, and good physics. Unfortunately it doesnít have the main ingredient a game requires, a story.
Although itís a rather long game to complete, its multiplayer is the only thing that saves it. Playing online with up to 8 people is a total blast. Getting into the action and joining a club online is a major aspect of this online funfest. You can actually join a club of racers where there is an owner, officers, members, and people who are pledging to get in. Itís a fun way to join the community online and become an important member.
One other additional feature is the games ďrace editor.Ē This is a very simple racing editor and one that works well, but lacks depth. Basically you can fly through the any city youíve unlocked, placing checkpoints wherever you want to race. Itís straightforward and there is a lot of fun to be had creating your own custom street races.
In general Midnight Club 3 reminds me of an old school NES game thatís low on story and high on game-play. Too bad todayís games require both; otherwise this would be an elite racing game. My opinion is to buy this game only when itís on sale even if you are huge fans of the series or love a great online racer.
Overall Midnight Club 3 edition is fun and addicting for one obvious reason. Itís an insanely high-speed arcade style racing game thatís faster than any other racing experience out there. With sleek graphics, easy to learn controls, and sound that you can party to. Midnight Club 3 edition will keep you playing solely because of its sheer fun factor, not because there is any real reason to.