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November 24, 2008
Midnight Club: Los Angeles - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
23/10/2008RockstarRockstarRockstar San Diego12-16
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Heading past Salma Ave at speed...
When people talk about Rockstar most conversations will inevitably turn toward their hit series Grand Theft Auto. It is, after all, one of the biggest critical and commercial successes in the videogame industry, and looks to be so for some time to come but the company has several other franchises in their library and one other big success story is their racing series Midnight Club. With plenty of visual flare and street racing cred unmatched in gaming circles any new release garners plenty of attention. This is the first time the series is hitting the Playstation 3 and generated a lot of interest prior to release in October 2008. We've played through this latest title to give you our opinion so read on...

In a slight deviation for the series from past games Midnight Club: Los Angeles includes some cut scenes and a bit of a storyline. Don't expect anything too detailed or revolutionary mind you, but what's there is more then just a token effort.

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The city detail is impressive!
As you can tell from the name this latest Midnight Club title is set around the streets of Los Angeles. While I've never been to that city myself I can certainly see the similarities, and some of the buildings look similar to counterparts that I've seen on TV and in movies. We do know thought that the developers have taken some liberties to craft some more 'racing friendly' streets - perhaps new roads here or there, or some variations to real roads. In comparison to previous games the city in this game is apparently larger then the three cities from Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition combined. That's a lot of racing!

As with previous games in the series, and due to the open world nature of the game, route markers are provided through a series of smoke plumes while you're racing. This allows you to stay to the most obvious roads, but also allows you to explore for the numerous shortcuts or alternate routes during races. Kudos must also go to the development team for the wonderful GPS system which zooms out on your location to give you a wonderful view of the city, and then back in to your car when complete. The only niggle is the lack of rotation on the map which means some streets are partially obscured by buildings.

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Effects such as smoke, and the skies, impress.
The cars in this game really do handle well. Not only are they responsive to the controller inputs, but drift and slide around the tracks exactly as you would expect them to. Rockstar really have nailed this area, but were also able to include car damage in the game. As you drive around, scrape walls, collide into other cars or hit objects the cars will get more and more banged up. Fortunately these can be fixed pretty easily through a 'Quick Fix' option which fixes them mechanically so you can keep driving around. If you want the full repair (panels and paint) that will take a little more effort.

This game now includes plenty of cops who will pull you over on occasion to issue infringement fines, however if you decide to do a runner you will end up with a large chase on your hands, and one which could last a while. I did find after a while though that these became a little annoying.

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That's a nice reflection there.
The biggest problem with this game though is that it's pretty damn tough in places and casual and seasoned gamers are both likely to struggle. In particular the AI cars seeming to always get a better start - no matter how well you've done up your car - and leave you to catch up. Some races and missions will take many attempts to complete. The smallest mistake and you'll be starting over, and some of these races are pretty lengthy, with many turning into a series of races.

Another issue is that as you play through the game you build your reputation. As you move up in the levels you can purchase new parts for your cars with the cash. Annoyingly though if you have enough cash new parts won't become available until you have a big enough reputation - since when will car salesmen not sell something due to your 'reputation'.

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Visually Midnight Club Los Angeles is great.
When you get past, or tired of the single player game you can spend a considerable time participating in the online multi-player modes. Connecting online is as simple as that in EA's Burnout Revenge. A couple of presses of the button and you're there. Seamless, easy, and very entertaining. In fact you could easily spend as much time, if not more, in the online modes then the offline ones. Lag is near non-existent (at least on our 8Mbps connection) and the races were fast and frantic as a result.

As you have probably determined from the surrounding screenshots Midnight Club: Los Angeles certainly looks wonderful. The game runs on Rockstar's RAGE engine which was used to power their little game called Grand Theft Auto IV. As many of you would be aware that was a technically polished game with wonderful lighting and texturing and that has transferred into Midnight Club: Los Angeles perfectly. Each of the car models looks very impressive - perhaps not Gran Turismo quality, but close enough - and is comprised of some 100,000 polygons. Each of the cars now includes visible drivers inside.

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Preparing to race from the crossing.
Sonically this game has all the right ingredients. There's plenty of pumping music to keep the tempo of the game up and there are some wonderful effects from the car engines and wheels on the road, as well as other ambient sounds. All of this is, naturally, presented in some pretty aggressive surround sound.

Visually alluring, sonically impressive and technically polished Midnight Club: Los Angeles is a game which any street racing fan can, and likely will, enjoy. Casual gamers may find some sections a little difficult, but anyone up for a bit of a challenge should pick this game up pronto. Well done Rockstar San Diego on another fine racing effort that showcases the PS3's capabilities.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse.
GRAPHICSThe city looks great, and the cars impressive. Good lighting.
SOUNDBrilliant voiceovers, music and effects. Few games sound this good.
GAMEPLAYThe car physics are brilliant, its quite tough though.
VALUEPlenty of races, plenty of customisations, great online too.
OVERALLMidnight Club: Los Angeles is a great racing game that ticks all the right boxes, but may be a little hard for some casual gamers.

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