Xbox 360 Review: Midnight Club Los Angeles

October 31, 2008 by · Comments Off on Xbox 360 Review: Midnight Club Los Angeles 

Midnight Club hits LA, should you pay it a visit?

Rockstar Games is proud to announce the fourth installment of its critically-acclaimed and genre-defining Midnight Club franchise, Midnight Club: Los Angeles. Developed by series creator Rockstar San Diego, Midnight Club: Los Angeles will give gamers the unprecedented freedom to race through a hyper-realistic LA.

Whether driving by the beach or beating the competition by cutting through a parking garage at 200 mph, Midnight Club: Los Angeles provides a seamless, breathtaking environment for everyone who loves to compete. With no load times, no tracks, and no rules, the game allows players to race who they want, when they want, and where they want in an unbelievable recreation of Los Angeles.

A racing game is nothing without the great cars and Midnight Club: Los Angeles allows extensive customization of vehicles for both performance and appearance. Players can now fully personalize their officially licensed imports, tuners, classic muscle cars and motorcycles both inside and out with a dizzying array of licensed rims, spoilers, interior gauges, tires and more.

Midnight Club has been another series that I have missed out on until now. I always considered Burnout, Need for Speed and PGR to be all the driving I’d ever need and while that’s true to a point, Midnight Club LA proves that it’s not quite out of the race just yet.

The idea of Midnight Club LA is that you begin with a crappy car, a small budget and next to no reputation. As you win races, you earn rep and money that you can spend on getting new cars or adding new parts to it for future races. Think of LA as a hub for races like Burnout Paradise, but instead you chase drivers and flash your headlights to challenge them to a race. Races can be easy if you know the track well enough, plus you can just hit reset and do the thing again until you win. You can also gain nitrous boost by staying behind a driver till the meter fills to the top, then hit X and make them eat your dust.

The game isn’t without its issues, however. For example, draw distance can prove problematic when they are bushes in the middle of roads that appear seconds before you can evade, I’ve crashed my car and lost a few races because of it. Usually when it comes to sprint races, you are finished if you crash once. You earn rep regardless of what position you come, but it’s still annoying that this problem can actually cause you to lose. Despite that hindrance, LA looks amazing as do the cars themselves. It would have been nice for something like a reverse button like GRID has if you crash or if collisions were more realistic than just a knock. Evading police is something you’ll also have to do, and while it isn’t nearly as fun as NFS Most Wanted was, it does the job well enough.

The performance is impressive as there are practically no load times between races, the game just zooms out and zooms back onto the starting line then it begins. As you progress through career mode, you’ll be introduced to special race types and missions. You’ll find out about these from your sidekick, local hangouts or the garage. Successfully completing these will get you even more rep points and cash. There are also 4 special things you can do as you progress that can turn the tide of the tougher races. Agro lets you plough through the competition, Zone slows everything down, EMP disables the competition and Roar sends out an engine rev so loud that traffic will do anything to get out of the way.

Online and System Link support is upto 16 players and there are some interesting modes such as variations of Capture The Flag as well as standard ranked and played races. The soundtrack is pretty good, although it’s not to my personal tastes. Of course it’s easily fixed with the fact that you can play your own music in the background, huzzah!

The Verdict

Midnight Club LA might not be original with its ideas, nor does it do anything that great…but it’s still a fun racer that can be enjoyed by most, although only if they’ve played Burnout Paradise and NFS to death.

Xbox 360 Review: Saints Row 2

October 16, 2008 by · Comments Off on Xbox 360 Review: Saints Row 2 

Can the sequel to Saints Row topple GTA IV?

Saints Row 2 brings true freedom to open-world gaming. Players can play as who they want, how they want, and with whomever they want in this sequel to the much acclaimed and tremendously successful Saints Row. Set years after the original, the player finds himself in a Stilwater both familiar and strange and challenged with bringing the Saints back as the rightful kings of Stilwater and bringing vengeance to those who wronged him.

The original Saints Row was a fantastic, yet under-rated game. Sure it would appear to be nothing more than a GTA-Clone, but Saints Row had a great story, superb gameplay and memorable side missions. Now seeing as the whole GTA IV thing has died down until its release on PC, Saints Row 2 emerges with your main character surviving that boat explosion at the end of the first game, how did he survive? Well he wakes up in hospital years later, so he must have been in a coma for quite some time. During this you can customise him to whatever you like and then escape to reform the Row.
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