Review by dkldarklord

Reviewed: 04/28/05

A shocking and disappointing step down from MC2. One of the easiest racing games ever.

Midnight Club 2 was a very fun, fast-paced, hilarious journey through some extremely tough races. To get 100% in MC2 took some serious work. Heck, to get out of Los Angeles took some serious work. I loved it, but I realize that it was too hard for many gamers.

That's why I was fully prepared for MC3 to be easier. The current trend in video games is to make them easier (or as the corporate bigwigs would say, more ACCESSIBLE), so that we will finish the games faster and go out and buy more games. This is life, this is business, I accept that.

What I wasn't prepared for was the fact that Rockstar decided to dumb down the difficulty level to such a ridiculous degree that this game can easily be beaten 100% in about a week by anyone who has had prior success with almost any other racing video game.

The lengths this game goes to to make it easy for you to win a race are astounding. Hitting other street traffic, even with the light weight sports cars, not only doesn't cost you the race, it barely slows you down. On motorcycles, you can sometimes fall off the bike if you plow right into a car, but you stay on the bike more often than not.

Trees, telephone poles, traffic signs, vendor booths, pedestrians, and everything else other than the walls of buildings can be plowed through with absolutely zero effect on the speed or trajectory of your car. (Technically the pedestrians look like they're jumping out of the way, so that this could be an E rated game, but you're going so fast, you really hit them.)

Rubberband AI: This is in every "Arcade" racing game. That's what makes them fun and playable. However, MC3 takes it to a whole new level. If you fall behind in the race, the other cars slow way down and let you catch up. It's so bad, that you can see the little blue arrows on the mini map (that represent the opposition) practically stop.

In a 3 minute race, you can crash the car, (not just swerve off course, I mean come to a crashing stop) 4 or 5 times, and the game still lets you catch up and win the race. If you crash near the end of the race with racers ahead of you, there is about a 70% or better chance that the other cars will suffer a similar crash allowing you to still win.

Please keep in mind that I'm not just talking about the early levels, this applies to the whole game. As long as you continue to upgrade your vehicle and switch to the faster vehicles when they become available, it never gets harder. There's not even a final series of 3 or 4 tough races to separate the men from the boys.

Also your cars now have Super Powers. Besides the slip stream turbo from MC2, you now have Roar (your car or bike blows out a huge gust of wind that knocks the other cars out of your way), Zone (bullet time, which eliminates the troublesome need to learn how to maneuver your car around tight corners), or Agro (a short period of invincibility where you can push anything that isn't nailed down, including buses, out of your way). Each vehicle has one of these 3 types of Super Powers.

I'm all for unrealistic racing games. I prefer Mario Kart to Gran Turismo. But I can't describe how ridiculously cheap it is to be about to lose a race and have your car literally blow the opposing cars off the track at the very end, allowing you to win. And you don't just get one shot of this super power either, you build it up continuously during the race and without even trying can have a shot of super power roughly about once every 30 seconds.

The other huge change from MC2 was that they dropped the trash talking voices of the other racers, and replaced them with officially licensed real car brands and a seriously extensive car customization feature.

This is where many people will find their fun in this game. I admit, I am not at all a car guy. I couldn't care less if the car I'm using in a video game is a real life Cadillac Cien, or an imaginary Miabatsu Thunder. For people who are into the real car brands, they will enjoy this aspect of the game at least, because there are tons of vehicles to choose from. Everything from classic Chevy Fleetliners to James Bond-style sports cars to pickup trucks to choppers and sports bikes.

Also, and I don't get this part at all, there are thousands of modifications you can make to your cars. I could spend all day listing the options. You can even change the color of your BRAKE CALIPERS. Who would even want to do that? So again, I'm not into it, but people who like to be able to choose from 100's of different kinds of bumpers or tire rims will like this game much more than me. That is, as long as they don't also like challenging races for their fancy cars with purple brake calipers to compete in.

The one major improvement from MC2 is the soundtrack. MC2 was about 15% rap, and 85% various styles of Techno. Even if you like Techno, it got a little old. MC3 mixes it up with more rap, a decent selection of rock songs, plus dancehall and more techno. Much better variety overall, plus songs by popular artists.

The graphics are also disappointing. The PS2 version looks like a port from another system. Rockstar continues to stay a step behind the current graphics standard, and unlike GTA San Andreas, this game is not good enough to make up for it.

Online play: I do not play online. Obviously the challenge of racing against real players will be much greater than playing the single player mode, so If you're an online player, the low difficulty of the single player game won't be as big of a deal to you. But I, like alot of people, buy a game for the offline mode, and we were completely shafted in the challenge department. I'm gonna go ahead and assume that you can't use the Super Powers in the online races or it would be a complete free for all.

So it comes down to this: if you were good enough to beat MC2, or even get halfway through it, you are going to be stunned at the low difficulty level of MC3. If you get into customizing a car in a video game, only care about online play, or if this is the first racing game you've ever played, you may have a very different opinion.

Gameplay: 4
Graphics: 5
Sound: 9
Replay Value: 0 if you don't play online or enjoy customizing video game cars. I'm guessing about 7if you do.

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

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