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midnight club: los angeles review - 18+ Gamers

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February 3rd, 2009

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10:23 pm - midnight club: los angeles review
i sent back midnight club: los angeles today. i was only about 64% complete, if i remember the last time i checked the stats correctly.

it was pretty, and the world was pretty big, being built on the gta:4 engine. it was not as big as liberty city, but maybe it was a little more dense. it also kind of felt like it wasn't as big as burnout: paradise. and that's where i think the poor comparisons to b:p begin.

both games are built more or less to the same purpose: fun, arcady racing. but burnout succeeds on the fun part where mc fails. it's a hard thing to put a finger precisely on, but it just felt like mc was missing.. i dunno.. something.

it is easy to point out some of the things it was lacking, especially things that they should have lifted from burnout, which has been out a whole year longer. both games point you towards where you're going, but burnout flashes your turn signal to indicate your best legal route towards the destination. with mc, most of the checkpoint races had checkpoints close enough together to not get lost, but sometimes they were either a little farther apart, or one was just barely around a corner when you expected it to be straight. and on the stoplight mode, you were usually racing to a single destination point all the way on the other side of the map, with no indication of how to get there. without a clearly defined set of landmark endpoints, and with most of the checkpoint races not really going end to end like that, it was hard to piece together different routes to figure out how to win those.

which leads to the winning of the races. green races were a joke. most of them you could easilly win by at least 30 seconds. yellow races usually didn't feel like much of a challenge. orange races felt like i could almost win them, except that the computer always had at least 1 car in the race that was enough better than mine that i would have to depend on it doing something disasterous, which rarely happened. red races were usually right out, except in the case of the freeway races, where i could usually beat the red levels.

as far as other modes go, mc had only 2. one, 'payback', had you chasing down and damaging computer opponents to knock them out as quickly as possible, the other, 'delivery', was a thinly disguised time trial, where you had to do as little cosmetic damage as possible to the car you were delivering as possible while still beating the time. payback is not as fun as the road rage or marked man events from burnout. delivery is just a way to make time trials more aggravating.

and then there's the damage. it's about 90% cosmetic. bumpers fall off, your trunk stops staying closed, windows are all smashed out. it doesn't seem to affect your driving, until right at the end, when it starts to affect your steering a little. and then you're all of a sudden totalled. while i'm never a fan of overly punishing damage models, the jump to totalled sometimes felt a little arbitrary. it was an amusing touch in series races when you, and occassionally the opponents, would have various body parts replaced with primer grey parts.

the physics, while loose, were at least somewhat consistant and forgivable, at first. but, if you're going to use real cars, at least have the physics make sense with the cars. when i upgraded to the gt40, the very definition of wide base low center of mass, i started flipping every time i turned a corner.

summing up, this seems like another case of graphics winning out over gameplay. something the developers will need to start getting a handle on going into the 3rd year of this generation. while it is good to make the games pretty and take advantage of all our spiffy new hd equipment, the fun should be high def, too.

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