Review by EpsilonGSG

Reviewed: 04/15/05

Raises the Bar

I have played all three games in the Midnight Club series, but Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition is the first one I actually decided to purchase. The reason for that is that even though the first two MC games were fun, they lacked in areas that are important for me when it comes to racing games. For example, they didn't have any car customization beyond an extremely small color selection for each vehicle and absolutely no tuning. In addition, every car in Midnight Club I and II was a non-existent car. Due to that, I ended up getting both Need for Speed Underground games to satisfy those gaming aspects. Midnight Club 3 takes the spectacular open-city racing and semi-arcadey driving of the first two Midnight Club games and the licensed cars and customization of the Need for Speed Underground series and blends them together into one amazing game.

The gameplay of Midnight Club 3 will feel familiar to anyone who has played the first two games in the series. The sense of speed is better than ever and you can still perform fun driving stunts such as driving on two wheels (left two or right two). The free-roaming career is changed up a bit. There are still other racers that you will come across in various points across the city, but MC3 has taken a page from Need For Speed Underground 2's book and there are marked spots across the city that are races that you may optionally enter. There are now tournaments that you can participate in, and a "city tournament" takes the place of the dreaded "race against the city champion" from the first two MC games.

One thing before I get on with the review, PlayStation 2 users are now accustomed to games with huge load times, especially with some of the newer games out now. Let me tell you, this game's load times are thankfully and impressively short compared to some other games.

The customization is not as deep as anyone who has played the Need For Speed Underground series might be expecting. It still covers all the bases, though, allowing you to improve the performance of the car and make cosmetic enhancements. Midnight Club 3 does a couple things in the customization area that the NFSU games don't that I am VERY happy about. For one thing, the body kits (the front bumpers, rear bumpers, and side skirts) are all actually real body kits! Secondly, the game allows you to choose what U.S. state your license plate resembles and what the license plate says. It should also be noted that the prices of the items you can purchase to enhance your car, both for performance and cosmetics, are what they would actually be in real life, something that other games in this genre should have tried to do from the start.

Tuning (actually tweaking of the car's parts to change how it drives), isn't very deep, as it only has a few options to adjust. Fortunately, they are straightforward and if you don't want to mess with it, it won't hinder you too much.

You can cruise and race is San Diego, Detroit, and Atlanta, and all three of those cities somewhat resemble their real life counterparts. Like the other MC games, there are hidden shortcuts to use and abuse and little fun places to get into (check out the baseball stadium in San Diego). The design team didn't cut corners when they made these cities.

The graphics are very well done. They aren't too much ahead of the graphics in Midnight Club 3, but they took the advancements you should expect as time and technology advances. The cars look good, the cities look good, and something that I call the "blur," which is how the game kind of blurs objects as you pass them to make you feel as if you are going fast, is perfectly executed. I am also impressed that even with licensed cars, we have damage, and not just the side mirrors falling off either, these cars just busted up.

As a pleasant surprise to me, Midnight Club 3's soundtrack is so huge and so well-balanced between music genres that only one game currently out can rival it, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Rockstar Games is truly living up to their name in recent releases, and they really do have great songs for every taste. You can choose to have the game play songs from the whole playlist or from just one genre and you can control the music by switching songs by pressing left and right on the control pad. Also, the in-game sound effects are on par with what you would expect from a racing game.

All in all, Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition raises the bar for every game in the genre. Fans of the Midnight Club series, Need For Speed Underground series, and even the Burnout series should pick this up. It takes everything that made the first two Midnight Club games great, adds in customization much like what is found in the Need for Speed Underground games, and has a sense of speed that honestly rivals earlier parts of Burnout 3. If you want total realism, stick with Gran Turismo 4, but if you want a fun racing game that truly covers all the bases that a game like this should, this is a definite buy.

GAMEPLAY - 9/10
GRAPHICS - 8/10
SOUND - 10/10
REPLAY VALUE - 9/10

FINAL SCORE - 9/10

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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