STAFF REVIEW of Midnight Club 2 (Xbox)

Wednesday, June 25, 2003.
by Flood

Midnight Club 2 Box art This is the summer for street racing fans. Not only did the sequel to the movie Fast and the Furious come out, but Rockstar Games has released Midnight Club 2, the latest and greatest street racing game for the Xbox. Race in three huge cities across the globe against the computer or any of your friends on Xbox Live. Midnight Club 2 will satisfy anyone?s need for fast arcade style racing.

Sick of racing games that feel like they?re always stuck in first gear? Well you don?t have to worry about that with Midnight Club 2. The gameplay is very fast paced, but not too fast like some racing games. Also unlike some racing games, the controls are quite good and precise. As you get farther in the game, you unlock new tricks to use while racing which are taught to you on screen instead of leaving you to figure it out on your own like other games. The gameplay won?t get boring either as there is much variety with every turn you take. There are three basic gameplay modes: Career, arcade, and online. In career, you start the game in Cruise mode, where you can freely roam the massive city to get a feel for the game. When you?re ready to race, you find a challenger using the map and flash your lights at them. From there, you race them (and other racers) in different styled races. To win, you must finish in first place. The more races you win, the more (and better) cars you get. After you defeat all the challengers in a city, you move onto the next. As the races go on, the harder the competition gets. That?s the great thing about Midnight Club 2, it?s actually challenging. You?ll have to race the same 2 minute race over and over again until you finally get the edge on the other racers or figure out a strategy.
Arcade mode is basically just multiplayer play offline. There are three types of multiplayer games: circuit, detonator, and capture the flag. Circuit racing is plain old fast paced racing that we all have grown to love. Detonator is where you?re split into teams and have to grab the detonator, which is represented as a big green bomb, and take it to a designated spot on the map to score a point for your team. Capture the flag is basically the same game. The only notable difference between the two is in detonator, if someone rams into you or you crash, you blow up and the detonator goes to a new location. In capture the flag, if someone runs into you, they get the flag.

One of the biggest appeals to most is the ability to play on Xbox Live. Although it can be fun at times, it?s not exactly fun for everyone. One of the biggest flaws in Live play is that you can only use the vehicles that you have unlocked in career mode. So if you only have 4 cars unlocked, 9 times out of 10 you?ll be blown away online by people who have all the cars unlocked because the cars get better as you unlock them. Although, this might make some people happy to know there is quite a challenge on Live. And Midnight Club 2 keeps track of all races in scoreboards so many will strive to be number one.

The graphics in Midnight Club 2 are really nice. From the details of the city to the reflections off your car as it zooms by. Although it isn?t the most amazing graphics as far as detail, it?s very far from the worst. The cities and pedestrian models resemble the likes of Grand Theft Auto 3 very much. This should come as a surprise though because Rockstar published and developed both games. The environmental damage in the game is very nice. The details of sparks flying from your car as you grind against a wall to debris from wooden boxes and windows flying through the air as you smash through them. The damage to your car is quite nice as well. Slam into light posts too many times and your front end will be smashed up with fire and smoke pouring out.

The sound effects are decent in the game. Nothing too special about tire screeching, engines roaring, and the sound of two cars smashing together. One thing that I feel was totally unnecessary was the horn. Not only does it serve no useful purpose, it sounds like a horn that hasn?t hit puberty yet. If I had a horn like that in real life, I would NEVER use it in fear of someone beating me up for how horrible it sounds. However, what doesn?t sound bad is the in game music. It?s your run of the mill fast passed techno and hip hop, but it really fits the game. It fits so well, it melds into the background as you blaze down the dark streets at 120 miles per hour. Although I personally like the in game songs, some most likely won?t. Unfortunately, they are out of luck because Midnight Club 2 does not allow custom soundtracks. This is one of the biggest flaws in the game.

Add custom soundtracks!!!!! Custom soundtracks should be mandatory, instead of being an extra treat.

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 10.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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