Format: PS3, Xbox 360
Price: £29.99 ($45)
The best way to see Los Angeles is at 200mph! Race at breakneck speeds through the streets of modern-day L.A. recreated in stunning detail. Drive the hottest range of real-world tuners, muscle cars, exotics and superbikes on the streets today. Customise your ride with the best after-market performance parts and custom kits. Illegal street racing with no track, no load times, no rules: welcome back to the Midnight Club!
Midnight Club is a racing series that’s been around for a while now, but this time the setting is rather different. The fourth instalment is set in a single, fully realised city in the same vain as Test Drive: Unlimited. As the title suggests, this setting is Los Angeles.
As this is a Rockstar game, the music plays a big part in the game – just as it does in Grand Theft Auto. Midnight Club: Los Angeles features The Chemical Brothers and MGMT amongst others such as Evil Nine – quite a diverse range of tracks are on offer to keep you happy whilst pulling handbrake turns around the city streets.
One thing you’ll notice when you first load the game is the visuals – there is a really good amount of detail and the car models themselves are top notch. It’s practically a real Aston Martin Vantage or Lamborghini Gallardo that you’re watching on screen – albeit the handling isn’t quite right – but we’ll come to that later.
Equally, the city itself as a setting looks really great. You’ll find the day/night cycle makes things a little different when you drive them and whether you’re cruising along Santa Monica or even up to the Hollywood Hills (notorious in real life for having street race/cruise sessions take place) you’ll enjoy how the game looks.
The game mechanic of setting up the races is actually the same as Test Drive: Unlimited. Flash your lights to initiate the challenge then race to the starting line before lining up and blasting away. Of course, apart from the ad-hoc challenges there are the usual suspects such as time trials, freeway races, A-B runs etc. Perhaps more interesting are the more mission based objectives, such as damaging another car or getting a vehicle to a specified location with no damage.
The reward system in the game is reasonably good – comprising both of money and respect. Naturally, you need both in order to make significant progress in the game and collect all of the 44 different vehicles that are on offer (bikes are included by the way, as is the current trend in racing games).
So far, so good I’m sure you’re thinking. However, there is a rather large flaw with Midnight Club: Los Angeles. It’s fairly noticeable even early on in the game. It also leads to a lot of frustration. It is quite simply the occasionally insurmountable difficulty level you’ll come across. Considering this is a game with a lot of free roaming (you don’t have to wait for loading times as you cruise) you’ll find this a rather annoying part of the game.
Unfortunately, this difficulty is an intrinsic part of the game, as it comes in the form of the enemy AI. Your opponents will act like a certain Lewis Hamilton at his best – seemingly showing no fear at all and getting the big payoff at the end. You, meanwhile, should you try this, will end up grinding into a wall or parked car and shouting very loudly at the game.
Ultimately, Midnight Club: Los Angeles is a good game but the fact that it is no longer an original concept means that I’d recommend Test Drive: Unlimited over this as there are so many similar elements to both games (it also shares the ridiculous difficulty of Platinum events in PGR3). However, the 16 player online aspect is really very good indeed – so perhaps it would make sense more for the multiplayer gamer. A good, but flawed game.