Review by Lance Mercury

Reviewed: 07/08/05

In the infamous words of Limp Bizkit: Keep rollin', rollin', rollin', rollin'

Rockstar Games, the company responsible for creating the Grand Theft Auto frenzy on PS2, returns to its hallmark Midnight Club series with its third installment, christened the Dub Edition. Like most street-racing video games, MC3 has a very simple premise: hit the streets looking for competitors to earn money, pink slips and the oh-so-important street cred against.

Gamers will be able to race through three famous U.S. metropolises: San Diego, Atlanta and Detroit. But unlike the previous two editions, which weren't cool enough to be associated with dubs apparently, there are a lot of hidden detours and jumps to live out your crazy high-speed chase fantasies out in. This adds a helluva lot of excitement to the game because instead of racing in circles-- which has been deemed wack, unless you's be playin' Gran Turismo Fo'--, you get to roll yo' ride in all kindsa playa-playa hidden tunnels and sweet jumps (if you cracked a Napoleon Dynamite line after that line, I hope you die.)

Of course, that stuff is just floss that blings out the real moneymaker of this game: career mode. Much like Midnight Club's main rival, the Need For Speed Underground series, you start off with one car with only stock parts in your garage. The only way to trick out your car, or better yet obtain new, better wheels to drive around in, is to drive around from point to point looking for other racers' challenges. A lot of these racers just want to race in a typical checkpoint to checkpoint race that's been a racing-genre standard since Crusin' World was around, however there are some challengers who want to actually get the gutzpah to take you on in more difficult, therefore fun, types of races.

When you've schooled enough chumps and playa-hataz and left them rolling over your car's skidmarks, head back to your garage where the true car freak in you will come out like a metrosexual's "closeted" side after 7 shots of vodka and three drinks of Coke N' Rum. Everything on your vehicle from the decals on your windshield to your engine's performance parts to the colors of your rims and spinners (did you honestly think those God-forsaken things WOULDN'T be in this game?)

If you feel your original wheels are all played out, you can also use your dolla'-dolla' to buy one (or more) of the huge number of other rides the game has to offer from the H2 Hummer to the Volkswagen Golf to, interestingly enough, the Kawasaki Ninja. Unfortunately, this game does not feature a bus, moped or the gamer's mom's old Toyota Corolla so the game's target demograhic won't be able to fully relate to the vehicles you are able to drive here.

Adding more replay value to this already excellent game is that not all the cars in this game are as easy to pick up as throwing down a fat stack of Johnsons and Benjamins, oh no, some of them, like the 98 Toyota Supra and 68 Corvette Stingray, will have to be earned by outracing one of the baddest muthas on the block. Yeh-yayee!

What makes this game truly fun to play is that it isn't completely grounded in reality. Where a straight-foward, realistic racing title like Gran Turismo sometimes gets stale (no car damage, interesting music or backgrounds, etc.), is where an arcade racer like this truly shines. The crashes are spectacular and, if executed perfectly, can trump crashes found in big-budget Hollywood movies, jumps more often than not defy the laws of physics, there is an amount of property destruction that is only as finite as the players' imagination (or threshold for thumb blisters and eyestrain) and most of all, cars have special abilities. The list is too long for me to publish here, but I will reinstate the cars have superpowers. I'm not lying.

Another great, yet much less important feature, is the game's soundtrack. Usually the background music in a racing game gutbucket rap music and bottom-of-the-barrel rock (usually by some no-name punk band only three people have heard of, and that's because they work in a record store) but not MC3:DE. There is a good balanced of good, at worst tolerable, rock and rap tracks. What might have kicked this game up a notch is if Rockstar threw in "Rumors" by Lindsay Lohan or "White Houses" by Vanessa Carlton. Not because the music's good, but they are those guilty-pleasure type songs everyone loves to bump while they're driving alone.

Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition is the closest thing to racing-game nirvana as I've reached so far in my short time on this planet. While popularity of it will certainly be hurt by fans' monogamy to the Gran Turismo and Need For Speed series, the game itself is solid and fun enough to ensure its place on PS2's Greatest Hits list one day down the road.

Final Score: 9.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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