Reviewed: November 8, 2008
Released: October 20, 2008
I know every one of you that is reading this review has wished that you could jump behind the wheel of a Mercedes Benz SL, a Pontiac Solstice, Corvette, or even a Lamborghini. That time is here, well figuratively speaking. In Midnight Club: Los Angeles you get to win money on the streets and update your cars while driving anywhere in LA. Get lost just driving around and enjoying the sights of LA or go from race to race and earn money and build up your reputation. It is time to lose yourself behind the wheel of your choice and race around town like you are suppose to do in amazing supped up cars!
Man, what was Rockstar thinking when they put together the controls. They differ completely from previous racing games. Your acceleration and braking/reverse is controlled by the right stick instead of the R2 and L2 buttons. This causes everything else to become more difficult to perform due to you always having to have your thumb on gas or brake. In fairness, you really do get use to it quickly. You just have a short buffer time to adjust and then you are so caught up in the rest of the game that it becomes second nature just like any other game you have played.
Aside from the controls, the gameplay is really smooth. There are very quick loading times between races and going in and out of your garage. One of the best features is your HUD. You have your race times, race position, your GPS map, and finally your Gauge Cluster. Your gauge cluster shows you your turbo meter, nitrous, damage meter, speed, and much more. The GPS helps you out a lot even though your way is marked by towering yellow lights that point out the way to go. Some races you have multiple ways to go and the GPS shows you some short cuts and faster routes.
You have four types of race modes to choose from and even time trials to help you earn quick money and even cars. You have ordered races, which have checkpoints that show you the way. Then there are circuit races, these are the same as ordered races but with multiple laps. Next, there are Red Light Races, which has you meet up with a racer at a red light and you race to a landmark in LA. Finally, there are lots of Freeway Races; these races are just out on the freeway weaving through heavy LA traffic.
You also get to race for pink slips, put a wager on your races, enter into race tournaments, and much more. There is so much to do with races what else can they do to make this game that much more enjoyable? They have trophies you can earn for a number of things dealing with racing or cruise.
Two of the best features have been added to this game that you will notice from all the Need for Speed games. You have to deal with cops and you have a huge multiplayer online experience at your fingertips. Let me tell you that the cops are a pain in the butt to deal with if you have multiple ones after you. A single cop in pursuit is nothing to worry about. The great thing is that you can earn trophies while eluding the cops and if you are in pull over mode and you take off and get away you will get one as well.
To draw attention from the cops all you have to do is drive through the studios, malls, or just do something illegal when they are close to you. They will be informed by the radio displace who, while they are close behind you, will tell them where you are going. You hear everything she says so it is in your best interest to break the line of sight with the cops and not hit anyone in the process because they will follow the mess you leave behind. Trust me you can spend anywhere between 2 minutes for pursuit time up to over an hour. I have done both and the longer you are being chased the bigger the fine when you are caught. They stop at nothing to get your and the fines do set you back quite a bit.
The online experience is ridiculous. You have so much in front of you that you donít know what to do at first. First off, you need a really good car that is modified quite a bit to keep up with some of these guys. You can choose from a standard race or a tiered race. I recommend the standard race first just to test out your car and see if you can hang just so you donít get embarrassed like I did on my first online race, not pretty. If you donít want to race you can just take a cruise throughout LA with no one but the other players that want to cruise as well or you can choose to battle in a standard mode or tiered mode.
Finally there is a Rate My Ride section where you can have other players rate your ride and see how yours compares to others around the network. So if you are feeling froggy and want to leap jump into the online modes or if you just want to hand out and do your own thing and make the same amount of money stay offline and see what you can do.
This is the best looking racing game ever dealing with scenery and racing elements. Yes, I said EVER. It looks so amazing that during the race you easily find yourself not focusing on the race at hand and you are looking at the scenery and getting yourself into trouble. The reflecting sunlight on everything around you makes you think youíre watching television and not racing in a video game. It is amazing how the day and night cycle function just add more to the game and really creates a true to life atmosphere. It really does get harder to see and drive at nighttime and it can really change the race. Finally, there is a PS3 title that matches up and with an Xbox 360 title.
The only problem that I can bring up is the damage graphics. I would intentionally crash into thing hoping that there would be some magnificent crash like in Burned Out Paradise. Sadly there was nothing. There was barely anything that resembled a crash, hardly any dents or damage. The game did slow down into slow motion and let you really hate waiting to see your fate as your opponent continues on with the race.
Once again I canít think of anything bad to say about the sound. Depending on what car you are driving you can hear the roar of the engine and if you have updated your car or modified it you can even get chills down your spin, if you are a true car enthusiast, with how real to life it sounds. Every little detail is done to perfection. The changing of gears, the brakes, and the screeching of the tires is just perfect.
The character sounds and voices were above average. They hit their marks and really made you feel like you were having a real time conversation and none of it was scripted. Everything flowed very well and it makes you want to compete in the next race and move on to see what would go on next. The only issue is in the trash talking during the race. You could be way ahead and the other racers will say something that does along with the script, but every once in a while you will get one that makes absolutely no sense.
Trust me there is so much to do in this game. You donít have to race if you donít want to. You can just cruise around town and then race every once in a while. This will not help you gain your reputation points or give you a chance to earn money to update your cars but you will get a great first hand view of Los Angeles for about sixty bucks.
If you are really into nothing but racing there are tons of different races at your disposal. You have the order races, circuit races, red light races, and your freeway races like we talked about earlier. And if you just want to go out and drive fast and see if you can be the clock, you have your time trials as well.
The best part about this game though is that you can earn trophies throughout the game. There are trophies awarded for all things dealing with just cruising or racing so you are forced to do both. Have fun and see what you can do to earn all the trophies available.
Midnight Club: Los Angeles is the best racing game out on the market today PERIOD. Granted, you donít have some amazing crash cut scenes like in BurnOut, but overall no other game can touch this one. You have so much at your fingertips that sometimes you canít think about what you want to do next. Race, cruise, or just find the hardest trophies and earn them. I canít say enough good things about this game. I was truly blown away and wish I had more time during the day to play it. If you are a racing fan or just a car fanatic this is a must have in your video game collection.