Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy
March 3rd 2005
Rockstar takes the saying "Third time's a Charm" and applies it the newest installment in the Midnight Club series. Rockstar is stepping up to challenge Electronic Arts to be number one in street racing gamer market. This dubbed out Midnight Club 3 is everything you expect from a street racer and more.
The Game:Midnight Club 3 is back and this time it's DUB'd out! Rockstar has mixed all the elements in what you expect in a street racer and then some. The main focus of the game is placed on the games career mode. You will walk in the shoes of Baby's girl, venturing into the tricked out ranks of the street racing circuit to make a name for yourself. If you have played Namco's Street Racing Syndicate or Need for Speed Underground then you'll know what to expect in Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition (MC3: DE). Although car games plots are understandably thin, the story turns out being less cheesy then it's girlfriend, cell phoned crazed competitors. All the games I mentioned, plus Midnight Club use the free roam system for there Career Mode giving you freedom to take on challenges in a random order. Starting off in San Diego you will have just enough cash to purchase one car out of six from the Six-One-Nine shop. The original choices look like this, 64' Chevy Impala, '78 Monte Carlo, Doge Neon SRT4, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Volkswagen Golf & Jetta. I really doesn't matter too much which car you pick because eventually you will unlock most of the other classes. If you're curious I picked the Volkswagen Golf R32 which put me in the Import Tuner bracket. As soon as the wheels hit the pavement the streets of San Diego are yours to navigate as you please.
Now that you're rolling you have to pick a spot to race. You are given a map of the city and locaters placed on a map of the optional races. The most common race are City Races which are brightly displayed on your screen by their red dots. The city races always regenerate and increase in value the more races you complete. The city races are always just single races, and make for a great way to gain extra income. The next race type is the popular Street Races which are brought on when someone challenges you. You have to find these characters on the map, and note that they move around. Once you find and follow the challengers to the starting point, you will have a number of races to complete with each character. Winning these races is important and each opponent will unlock a new feature of the game, usually the rights to join the ranks of an exclusive club. The first challenge I defeated was Vanessa to access the Unbeatable Car Club exclusive to Tuner rides. The vehicle classes are divided into six different groups consisting of Import Tuners, Classic Muscle, Luxury Sedans, SUV & Trucks, Bikes & Choppers and lastly Exotics & Concepts. Each class has its own club where you can race the group in a specific class, these are called Club Races. Club races will eat up most of your play time spawning in every city. Club Races are located on the map by a star and will usually consist of approximately ten plus races.. There is one more. Tournaments. Tournaments will also pop up during your game and just like it sounds you'll have to win consecutively in a row using a point system. These races are usually the longest section of the game, but give you the largest cash rewards. Out of all the career racing types I enjoyed Club Races. They can get hot and sometimes it's nice to even the playing field by racing your own class.
The story unfolds as you meet new mechanics in each city of the three cities San Diego, Atlanta and Detroit. You'll be captured by the drama of street racing crews and obsessed with gaining more credentials. I like how you're quickly rewarded and in no time you'll be competing in a few different club races at once. It's really up the player how they want to progress, and depending on your mood you might concentrate your progress in one area or not. Don't worry about extra long sittings at the screen because you'll never have to worry about being trapped competing in a long series giving that it auto saves after each races. Besides racing in Tournaments MC3 is great to pick up and play.
Midnight Club 3 also has an arcade mode with a few different modes then the career section. The Autocross, Track and Circuit races are the same, but the fun starts when you get into the Capture the Flag (CTF) or Frenzy mode. CTF is like a first person shooter and can be entertaining and Frenzy is a where you race through the streets with nitro firing every few seconds until the timer runs out. Its fast and it will get the adrenaline pumping. The other modes in arcade racing are Ordered, Unordered, Tag and Paint. Frenzy was my pick, but all the modes are great especially with friends.
Now that I've explained the dilly on the Career mode and race types, You might be thinking . "What's up with DUB?!" The DUB edition represents the pages of DUB Magazine which directly influenced the styling' of the MC3. DUB Magazine is an urban automotive magazine that features customized rides and the celebrities that drive them. The whole DUB edition factor comes in to play when you race in DUB sponsored tournaments or acquire tricked DUB editions of a vehicle. The DUB cars are all pre-customized and make for one sweet ride.
Overall the gameplay is smooth as butter with the help of a dynamic difficulty gauge which helps fluctuates the games AI to match your performance. It's not really the rubber band theory, but it might seem like it after a while. If your having troubles just keep at it and you will bounce back. Rockstar and DUB Magazine polished up the gameplay of this one to make a fun racer that everyone can enjoy.
Graphics & Sound:Midnight Club does everything right in the graphics department; I was truly blown away. Polished up MC3 is amazing to watch and it has to be one of the best looking games on the Xbox. The vehicles look great, but more importantly the races really capture the sense of speed. Like Burnout 3: Takedown they have the speed deal nailed. MC3 pulls away from its competitors and starts to up the aunty with all its vibrant flash and effects. I loved the smoke acting as your check points, it was a great idea that works and looks cool at the same time. I will pick smoke over the standard blinking icon any day. The other effects on the cars and the city environments are outstanding, it becomes even more visually impressive when you running at top speeds. Although its not perfect because Midnight Club 3 does suffer from a little slowdown when the weather effects start to kick in. Luckily it doesn't rain as much as it does in Underground 2. I love the illusion of speed MC3 pulls off and its one of those games you need to see running on the big screen with its 480p and 720p support. If not for the rest of the game, Midnight Club is worth a run, just to check out the scenery.
How do you like your hip hop? MC3 can treat you to a wide variety of music featuring Drum and Bass artists like Calyx and Culture Shock, to the dance beats of The Martian. The game as you might figure has a list of hip hop stars like the Ying Tang Twins, Twista and Fat Joe. If you like a little rock with your ride then they also have the new singles from Queens of the Stone Age, "Little Sister" to Nine Inch Nails featuring "The Hand that Feeds". The music lifestyle drastically impacts the pages of DUB magazine and its no surprise that it has the same effect on MC3. The soundtrack is important, as much as the sound effects in a racing game, anything to help pump the aggression. Everything else falls into place and sounds great in 5.1 surround sound; sonically Midnight Club 3 is dub'd.
Innovation:Where Midnight Club's scale drops a bit is in the innovation section, mainly because it can be comparable, or can be labeled a "clone" because similar gameplay and late release date. Need for Speed Underground 2 might over shadow MC3 because it really nailed the same concept half a year earlier. It's all good, because once you give MC3 a chance you will see that it has some unique features which makes it stand on its own.
One major difference to MC3 is the inclusion of bikes, and not just your typical Honda. You have a variety of racing bikes and choppers at your call and these bikes really help change up the gameplay dynamics. It's challenging to blast down the road with only the wind on your side, dangerously weaving through the packed streets city streets and alleys. You have to lean and turn your way to victory without hitting too many obstacles which is trickier then driving a car. You can even use your bike to race in any races that aren't class races, but beware the computer could play dirty and try and nock you off your ride. Bikes are cool and it's nice that you can go loco on two wheels.
Midnight Club 3 also brings back some of the power moves from the last edition and then adds some new ones. The power moves act like a combination of technique and power-ups which add more fun to the races and gives the game a more arcade race feel. People familiar with Midnight Club 2 will be welcomed to the Slip Stream Turbo, Two Wheel Driving, Weight Transfer and Power Slide techniques. Plus the In-Air Control and big time Nitro. These features are cool and I think essential to the franchise, but the new ones are more over the top and classic. Zone basically slows time giving you a few seconds to squeeze around tight turns and narrow spaces and can win races when combined with boosting. With a Chopper or Muscle car you can use the Roar feature granted from successful drifting, the catch is that the engine roars so loud that other nearby cars will swerve out loosing control. Finally the last new power move is Agro. Agro is for SUVs, Trucks and Sedans and it acts as a power-up that can make your car a wrecking machine giving you the ability to smash other non-competing vehicles and send them flying. Again the power-ups will turn purists away, but that's what TOCA is for.
Finally, the innovation comes to a close with the sweet Race Editor. The race editor lets you design new tracks if you get bored with the games many routes. The editor is a nice little feature that gives the game a little more personality. If you have high ambition level you will be able to creature monster tracks that really test your driving skills.
Mojo: Midnight Club is a blast and it brings the mojo down thanks to DUB magazine. The rides are truly sweet and the inclusion of trucks and bikes is magic. If there is one racer that burns mojo nitro it's Midnight Club 3. I can't get enough of my of my fantasy garage with my pimped out El Camino SS. Get out the Whip, Midnight Club 3 has a full tank of mojo!
Lowdown:Midnight Club 3 is one the best arcade style racers available for the Xbox. Borrowing ideas for its competitors, Rockstar and DUB have really upped the aunty on street racing gaming. Every race fan should check out this one!
Gameplay: 9, Graphics/Sound: 9, Innovation: 8, Mojo: 10. Final: 9