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Midnight Club: Los Angeles (Xbox 360)

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8 Reviews

Manufacturer: Take 2 / Genre: Driving & Racing

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

    8 Reviews
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      16.04.2010 21:25
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      Midnight Club: Los Angeles for xbox 360 is a really good racing game!

      Midnight Club: Los Angles is a brilliant driving/racing game. There's loads of fun you can endure in this game from racing on the streets of LA to getting hunted down by police cars.

      The story behind this game is that you are one man who is a street racer. You race other people and cars on the streets and by winning a race, you earn money. With that money, you can buy cars and pimp them. You can also take part in pink slip races and if you're going too fast and a police car sees you, then you're in big trouble and they will start chasing after you. So, as you can see, this game is a brilliant game that you'll get a lot out of.

      The graphics are really good in this game and you feel like you're actually playing it and you feel like you're speeding past the red-lighted traffic lights and you're driving on the beach.

      Also, the controls on this game are really easy to get to grips with and the sounds of the engine and thump of you crashing into an oncoming car is immense.

      Overall a brilliant game that'll keep you on the edge of your seat and your heart beating fast. One of the best racing/driving games around and good value. A brilliant game and a brilliant buy!

      I hope this review helps. Thank you.

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      21.02.2010 02:54
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      Superb racer from Rockstar supported by DLC and well worth the £14.99 price tag!

      I recently dropped back into Midnight Club: LA a few days ago after neglecting it since I first bought it just over a year ago. I bought it because I heard it was made by Rockstar, the same guys behind the GTA series and it looked like a decent enough racing game to keep me occupied. I decided to review it - as I thought it deserved an honest write up from someone who's had it quite a long time. As this is quite a long review, I've split it up into different aspects of the game to make it easier to digest, especially for if you don't feel like reading the whole review.

      --- Introduction ---
      I'll start off by explaining how the game works. There are 5 separate car types, these are: Tuner, Muscle, Luxury, Exotic & Sports Bike. An example of each car included in the game would be:

      Tuner: '06 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
      Muscle: Dodge Challenger Concept
      Luxury: '06 Mercedes S600
      Exotic: '04 Lamborghini Murcielago Roadster
      Sports Bike: '07 Kawasaki Ninja ZX14

      Like most racing games, the vehicles are separated into different classes (D being the worst, A being the best). They are all measured by three different attributes: Acceleration, Speed & Handling. This is a little basic for my tastes; however this system works well and ensures you aren't spending all your time working out which car to buy next. You can upgrade vehicles' attributes, however if you upgrade too far you could push the car to a better class, making it not applicable for some events.

      The game follows a non linear, sandbox format and you can choose in which order you complete the 'missions' in. The missions range from tournaments and 'best out of 3s' right to time trials and delivering cars to different places with in a time limit. I found each mode challenging but enjoyable to play. The missions are split up into four different difficulties: easy (green) normal (yellow) hard (orange) very hard (red) and are clearly displayed on the map accordingly.

      --- Difficulty ---
      I've seen a lot of people being getting upset and deciding not to play the game as they found it too difficult. Which is fair enough, the 'red' races are incredibly difficult and I found the 'orange' races somewhat difficult before I got used to the game. However, to progress through the game you are never asked to do a 'red' race, and even the orange ones aren't that hard once you've practiced a little.

      I think the main reason why people give up is because of the numerous traffic and obstacles you can crash into. My advice would be to slow down a little - make not hitting stuff a priority - and you'll probably enjoy the game much more.

      --- Graphics ---
      As far as the graphics go - MC: LA is stunning. Be it night or day, dawn or dusk - did I mention the game has a 24 hour day cycle? - the game never fails to impress. The GTA engine has clearly been used and I love how detailed everything is, and how LA is portrayed as such a beautiful city.

      The only problem I had was with the time of day. When it gets dark I find it harder to drive at high speeds (180MPH+) because some of the darker coloured cars are harder to see. Even though headlights etc. come on it's still a little difficult. This isn't actually a technical issue, just a design one really, as you can't adjust the in game brightness, contrast etc. You have to edit your TV settings.

      --- Gameplay ---
      This is probably one of the most enjoyable racing experiences I've had on a console, with the graphics and controls holding up even at very high speeds. Even the motorbikes handle well and are a joy to drive, and include the same great cockpit view the regular cars have.

      To spice the gameplay up, however, Rockstar have introduced special abilities which allow you to get the upper hand on your opponents. All four abilities are available from the start and you must earn the ability to use them by driving a certain distance without crashing in a race. This is great, as it rewards skilful driving. The abilities are:

      Zone: This slows down time allowing you to react quicker
      Agro: This makes you temporarily invulnerable, and any cars in your way are bounce off you with great force (my favourite)
      Roar: This forces any surrounding vehicles away
      EMP: This emits an electromagnetic pulse which disables nearby car's electricity temporarily

      If you use these abilities well, you shouldn't have too much trouble progressing through the game.

      --- Other Game Modes ---
      MC: LA also comes with a 'Rate my Ride' online feature where users can submit their custom made cars (which can be customised with paint jobs, vinyl works, etc. This is a great feature as it allows you to rate (or even buy) other's rides and submit your own. Careful however, as some people choose to put... adult only content on them.

      --- Downloadable Content (DLC) ---
      Rockstar really have added a lot to this game through downloadable content which can be bought in exchange for Microsoft Points, or 'MSP' (See my MSP review for more details). 2 packs however, are free.

      First they released a free expansion to the game called 'South Central'. This expansion expands the size of the map (area in which you play in) by one third, adding four new neighbourhoods. Although I didn't really think making the map larger was necessary, it's still a welcome addition to the game and gives you even more of the beautiful city to explore.

      Next they released a 'South Central Premium Upgrade'. This includes 9 new vehicles and 26 more races to compete in. Cars include: '96 Pontiac GTO and a Range Rover Sport Super Charged. This costs 800MSP (£6.80/$10.00).

      Rockstar further released two Vehicle Packs, packs 1 & 2, containing 3 and 4 new vehicles (respectively). The packs feature such cars as the '09 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT, the '08 Lancer Evolution X and the '07 Aston Martin DB9. Each pack costs a mere 240MSP (£2.04/ $3.00).

      Instead of making you buying these packs individually, Rockstar introduced a value pack (dubbed 'South Central Ultimate Content Pack'), containing the South Central Premium Upgrade and both vehicle packs, for 1000MSP (£8.50/$12.50). To buy the packs separately would cost 1280MSP (£10.88/$15.99) - which clearly makes buying the 'Ultimate Content Pack' better value for money. I bought the Value pack a couple days ago and am very impressed by the 16 new vehicles in particular, let alone the new missions available.

      Finally, (and most recently) a 'Police Car Pack' has been released, containing 5 police cars. The cars drive very well and it's great being able to speed through red lights without the fuzz chasing you. Best of all it's free, and is only a 34.5MB file so won't clog up your hard drive up too much either. I would have liked to be able to drive a police motorbike, but hey - it's free after all, so I can't complain.

      You can also download the full game from the marketplace for £19.99 (inc. VAT) however I wouldn't advise it. The completed addition (which includes all DLC) can be found for £14.99 at Play.com & Amazon. Downloading the full game off of marketplace also takes up a fair amount of hard drive space (6.15 GB).

      --- Summary ---
      Overall, I think Midnight Club: Los Angeles is a marvellous addition to the racing game genre and although it's been out for well over a year now is still worth buying. This game offers so many hours of gameplay it's unreal; with multiple game modes (online and offline), a plethora of cars and motorbikes - MC: LA really does have it all.

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    • More +
      09.01.2010 16:33
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      A great game, excellent buy for £10 or so.

      Well the Midnight Club series has been running for a long time now, the original hitting the PS2 in 2000, followed by Midnight Club 2, on the PS2 and Xbox in 2003, then Midnight Club 3 Dub Edition also on the PS2 and Xbox but additionally on the PSP in 2005, the latest installment of Midnight Club hit the 7th gen consoles in 2008 and was made available on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PSP.

      The game features 43 cars, but only 3 motorcycles, which is less than what Midnight Club 3 featured. However the cars in MC:LA are far more detailed, and the size of LA is the size of all 3 cities of the previous installments of Midnight Club.

      As always this newest Midnight Club game features an extensive soundtrack, 97 songs in total.

      When you start the game, you're given a choice of 3 cars. A Nissan 240SX, a Volkswagen Golf and a Volkswagen Scirocco.

      The player must then beat race after race building his reputation, in order to gain ranks and eventually become the city champ, after the player has achieved the rank of city champ, and happens to have $1,000,000 handy, he can buy into the garage business and after that, every car and part in the game is available for free.

      As introduced in Midnight Club 3, the game allows extensive modification of the cars, such as body kits, vinyls, interior design, wide body kits and wheels. As well as the ability to tune the car with new upgrades.

      The game adds several new manufacturers to the series, such as Ford and Mazda. In Midnight Club 3, Ford refused to give Rockstar Games the rights to put their cars in the game, therefore in one of the races, the player drives against the car with a registration plate reading '4d Sux' or words to that effect.

      The games South Central premium expansion (premium means you need to pay) adds SUV's and Lowriders to the game, SUV's being the Range Rover supercharged models.

      The game did receive a lot of criticism over its AI, claiming that it was too hard, and because of the catch up handicap system in the game, a Volkswagen Golf could keep up with say a Nissan Skyline. Although this does get annoying, its not as bad as some make out, the human player also benefits from a catch up bonus, and if your a good driver, you'll blitz the races anyway. The game isnt too hard, but its certainly not too easy, a good balance i think.

      MC:LA's price dropped straight after being released, and was available brand new for £18 at the start of 2009, nowadays its worth around £7 used, a great buy.

      This game does support online play modes, and system link modes as well, such as CTF, Cruise and Races. Up to 16 players.

      MC:LA runs on the same game engine as GTAIV, with some modifications obviously, such as no weapons and inability to leave ones car.

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    • More +
      01.09.2009 03:28
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      A nice game with great bits, but overall it doesnt really do it for me, and average game!

      Midnight Club: Los Angeles - Xbox 360

      To start with you can just quick drive and go see what the fuss is all about but the game doesn't really start and you don't get the entire experience until you've unlocked all the cars and customisation options, not an easy prospect.

      To unlock all those parts you'll need to beat single player races, however a problem that I found is that the computer racers, the traffic and the police seem to always want to stop you; and mostly they do succeed. And even though you lose a lot, when you do you also gain points and rep...I think it kinda makes things a bit pointless and you have to invest too much time.

      The game gives you bonus money and rep for completing certain missions; it's all worth it for the multiplayer though. The game features 16 player online, capture the flag, tag and a heap of other more traditional racing modes as well. You can customise your own races, and you can put your car up on "Rate My Ride" to show off your talent.

      The game looks amazing the cars are detailed inside and out, and the world is stunning. Despite knowing you'll probably lose the next race, the drive to the race is still a thrill. The Midnight Club series creates the right atmosphere and gives it a proper underground street racing feeling.

      The cars have a lot to do with this as you can customise everything about your car right down to custom decals. You can make the car look exactly how you want inside and out. All the cars drive individually and share the physics of the real models would handle, this means that upgrading cars isn't just a power boost it actually "feels" different.

      The best thing however is the Quick Cruise mode where you and your mates can hang out and just cruise.

      The police will pull you over for proper traffic violations speeding, dangerous driving, running red lights and you'll always comes across random street races to enter, it a huge world. There's no traffic in online cruise mode, so you and your friends have the entire world to yourselves, which is doubled edged to be honest.

      There's a great deal of variety in the characters in the game which stops things getting boring, there are about 40 great cars with different handling styles and some of the best customisation options in any car game yet...once you unlock them.

      If you like racing games and customising your get this game, it's a difficult game to win, but I guess when you get good, you get good... practice makes perfect; a fun game despite the difficultly.

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        02.08.2009 18:37
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        Just a little to hard!

        Midnight Club LA is a racing title by Rockstar games who are well know for their popular Grand Theft Auto series.

        The story in this game is pretty lame and throwaway, you arrive in the city of Los Angeles, some gangsters hook you up with a car and you must race your socks off until you can claim the title of City champion but it's a long way to go!

        This game is absolutely huge and there is a mind numbing variety of events for you to take part in. As well as your basic lap races, time trials, checkpoint races you can do point to point red light races where you challenge an opponent to race from a set of lights to another, a freeway battle where you must go at high speeds to a certain point, deliver cars and smash other racers cars up which is a great distraction!

        The list of vehicles in the game is not as extensive as say a Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport but there is a reasonable amount of cars and bikes to add to your collection, you can also kit them out customizing everything from paint colour to the interior and adding turbos and nitrous.

        The racing here is quite tricky, the AI is really tricky and will pass you the second you make a slip up, the difficulty is very high and you will get frustrated!

        The cars handle well and you do have some cool unlockable special abilities to tip the odds in your favour, for example the EMP will disable any cars close to you, the Agro perk will let you smash anything in your way without losing speed and the Zone ability will let you slow down time and dodge obstacles and corner without losing to much speed.

        Despite the difficulty it is a rewarding game when you do win and it has alot of content, the graphics are very good better than GTA 4 and the soundtrack is a good mix of rap/hip-hop and rock tunes.

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        07.02.2009 15:11
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        Poor Game

        This is a review based on only about 30 minutes play of the game, so it may not be accurate. However, there is a reason I only played it that long. First impressions are everything and this gave a bad first impression.

        My first experience of Midnight Club when the series began was a bad one and I have never been interested in playing another one since. But, I had heard a few good things about this one and gave it a shot.

        ************************************************************
        ***** Gameplay *****
        ************************************************************

        I wasn't particularly impressed by the gameplay.
        The vehicle handlind wasn't realistic for three main reasons :

        1. It was far too easy to take tight corners which should need braking at full speed. I was using the first car available, but even still, some braking should have been necessary.

        2. The cars were vere wobbly when turned even slightly at high speed, with one side of the car becoming much higher than the other. This is something that happens, but this Midnight's portrayal of it was exaggerated.

        3. There are objects in the game such as small fences and posts which should be able to smash through, but in this game crashing into these kind of objects results in a a big crash which stops your car. head on collisions are also unrealistic, with your car often going into the air in a strange way.


        ***************************************************************** Storyline/Racing *****
        ************************************************************

        Not being a fan of the Midnight Club series I didn't know there was a storyline. This to many people is probably an up-point to the game, but to me it isn't. In racing games, all I want to do is get on with the racing. Simple as that - no storyline involved.

        The racing in this game is from one point to another, with many different routes possible. At first it was bareable because there was beacons for me to follow, making getting to the finish line easy. However, one of the races I took part in had no beacons. This meant I had to continue to pause the game then bring up the map throughout the entire race so I knew where I was going. There is a compassy thing, but I found this completely useless. This is where my Midnight Journey came to an end.

        Oh, and I should also mention that during this unguided race I almost won despite crashing multiple times and going way off course. So if you persist with this game I would guess it's extremely easy.



        ************************************************************
        ***** In Game Menu Navigation/Controls *****
        ************************************************************

        This again is a major disappointment. The menus are far too complicated, with too much happening in them. It would take quite a little bit of time to get used to all the different options.

        I was also disappointed by the control setup. The original configuration had the analogues as the sticks which control acceleration, which in my opinion isn't a good idea. So, with no option to set the accelerator to X other than creating my own controller setup, I began creating my own setup. it was immediately apparent that this was a bad idea, because the sheer number of different actions which have to be assigned meant I would be constantly going into the menu to look at what I action I had assigned to each button.


        ************************************************************
        ***** Graphics *****
        ************************************************************

        by far the most impressive aspect of the game. As soon as the game starts, with an aerial shot over the lit-up city it is clear that the graphics are going to be quite impressive.
        This was the case. The buildings have many lights on them and the distant background such as the sea and hills are very detailed and pleasant to look at.
        The cars aren't quite as detailed as the surroundings, but this is understandable because of the modification which would be taking place.
        Making the cars as detailed as the city surroundings would probably have meant reducing the amount of modification which could be performed on the cars.


        ************************************************************
        ***** Car Modification *****
        ************************************************************

        I've gave this section of the game it's own part in this review, because along with the graphics it's the only thing I was impessed by.
        All the usual things which you would expect to be modified are - bumpers, hood spoiler, etc.
        This is the only area which Midnight Club has an advantage over Burnout Paradise.


        ************************************************************
        ***** Overall Opinion *****
        ************************************************************

        I would under no circumstances recommend this game to anyone, unless of cousre I was bribed alot of money by Rockstar to do this.
        Burnout Paradise is a far superior game and has much more variety.
        I didn't like Midnight Club on the PS1 and after many years steering clear of the game I still don't like it, not even on the PS3.

        3/10

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          12.01.2009 04:18
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          Love it or hate it? Love it or hate it?.........

          I am completely at odds with this game. On one side, a lustrously presented sand box racer from the guys that are, "sand box" games. On the other, A game full of gimmicks and empty promises that is monumentally frustrating and utterly ridiculous at the same time.
          Now, Rockstar know how to spin a yarn or two and there is definitely some direct influence from that other game (I forget the name of it now...) they released earlier in the year. Wether that's a good or a bad thing depends entirely on how you like your in game charactures to develop (because it has to be said, the lead protagonist is one annoying mo-fo!).. The problem is just this. There doesn't seem to be any story driving the game forward at all.
          The whole non-story revolves around some boy racer who wants to get to the summit of street racing Los Angeles style. And that's about as far as it goes... honestly!
          Hardly a rip-snorting adventure to sink your teeth into I think you'll agree. Caught sitting on ones laurels Rockstar?

          Story aside though and with some quality time dedicated, the latest Midnight club unfolds into a very enjoyable experience that you can tell has matured and drawn from it's developers pedigree in terms of both visuals and gameplay.
          Starting with little money and even less of a choice car wise (you'll never have seen an original Scirocco, or driven the very first Golf Gti unless you are well into your late twenties), you know straight away this is a game that has to be built from the ground up. Offering no concessions of any kind, the steep learning curve is totaly and absolutely brutal, with quite a few hours worth of play required to amass the (hard to come by) cash needed for either new vehicles or worthy upgrades.
          Make no mistake people, this game is both a test of skill and patience and is not for the gamer put off by constant crash and burn scenarios.

          Stick with it though, Los Angeles' highways and byways hold host to all manner of high octane-balls to the wall challenges.
          Once you have chosen the car with which you shall spend much time with (for starters anyway) you start recieving messages on the fly, giving you a heads up as to where the biggest meets and cruises are going down. All of these race options are then displayed on the map screen, with specific targets you need to hit accessible via the story legend (also in the map screen).
          Race oppurtunities come in thick and fast, meaning you are never stuck for ways of building rep or money. This in itself is a blessing due to the frustration factor of losing many a same race multiple times. Race modes come in all guises including circuit, point to point, time trials and pink slip winner takes all affairs. My personal favourites though are the highway battles (high speed, one on one thrashes), and the car delivery missions, much akin to Ataris Test drive unlimited. Races become increasingly difficult but in turn offer much more satisfying rewards. Put bluntly, the only way to get ahead is to race your little arses off!
          You can also create your own races through the editor function. These are then availible for you and your friends in X box live. I found this element to be extremely useful in fine tuning the already availibe circuits. allowing you to cut out any annoying traffic hotspots or stupid hairpins situated at a set of traffic lights!

          Vehicle lists were the first real dissapointment for me. The line up is quite average and offers nothing to separate Mc LA from the pack. I am very unsure of the credibility of super bikes in a game of this nature and it feels they may have taken the place of the rarer (and faster) cars that could not be liscened. Some of the cars have even been cheekily duplicated badged under "Dub Editions", these cars differ from there originals in nothing but body kits and are completely pointless.
          On the up side, the cars all handle tightly and well. Each class (exotic, muscle, tuner and luxury) handle differently enough to keep you interested in buying more and trying different types.
          In other words the muscles spend much satisfying time sideways while accurate deft cornering is the exotics forte. Tuners have more scope modifying wise and luxury cars appear to be the best freeway cruisers.
          All the cars have been beautifully recreated giving even Project Gotham 4 (all hail!) a run for it's money in the graphics department.
          Another gripe I have is with engine noise. It's not that the're bad, in fact the engine notes are spot on. Lambo V 10s howl and Saleen V8s growl, but how high do I need to turn my stereo up to actually hear them! Have the games board imposed some sort of noise limit on Rockstar!! Ridiculous!!!
          The above nonwithstanding, MC LAs audio is actually very good, making excellent use of dolby digital. Artics rumble by, supercars scream past (if you're only in a crud bucked of a car that is) and at higher speeds even stationary objects can be heard woooooomphing as you whim past them.
          As I said before, the only problem with the audio is the levels it's set at (less of a problem when heard through a TV rather than surround), you can't ever seem to get the balance quite right, turn the engine noise up you can't hear the narrative and visa versa. The music is OK and will appeal to fans of the rap/RnB genre (not my cup of tea, but each to thier own!).

          My last bug bear, and in my opinion, the most blatantly uneeded gimmick to this otherwise fairly true to life game is the addition of "special abilities".
          Oh my god, get rid of them.
          Cast them into the ether.
          Bury them six foot under.
          Perform doughnuts on their faces while simultaniously pissing all over them!
          This game does not need "special abilities". And all they serve to do is plunge the game into a totaly unbelieveible scenario.
          I wont go into detail describing them, I will let you discover them for yourselves and make your own desicion.
          If every else loves them, then so be it. But my point is this, just what are Rockstar trying to create here? A solid arcade racer that's set in an excellently rendered GTAiv esque LA, or a twisted rendition of Mario cart?

          This then, is a racer that will appeal to many. But probably not the real racing enthusiasts. I just feel that it may be slightly too ludicrous to hold any serious gamers attention.
          Worthy of a purchase, yes. If only to see the fine job Rockstar have done recreating the southwest corner of GTA San Andreas' map (any one else notice the almost uncanny similarity in road layout/distances ect?)
          Will it take pole position for years to come? I don't think so.
          Jamie Hunter.

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          • More +
            30.12.2008 13:07
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            A worthy victory for Midnight Club in the next generation.

            Midnight Club Los Angeles-The Best Way to See Los Angeles is at 245mph...

            Every game has a learning curve. You probably don't realise it, simply because difficulty levels are usually easy to begin with, but there's always a point at the beginning of a game where you must take some time to adapt to a game. Whether it's easy or not depends on the game. Sometimes a game doesn't really adapt you to what could be coming ahead, while sometimes the opening curve is incredibly steep and then once you get there, a game can be incredibly satisfying as you jump over the curve and then proceed to complete the game. It's a case where the difficulty will push you around, but not to a degree where it's unfair. This is the case with Midnight Club LA. The brutal learning curve at the beginning will put off most people, but once you get into the game, the frustrations are rare. Aside from this, it's a great racing game.

            There is a slight story here, but it's not memorable and exactly exciting. It mostly revolves around one of the most annoying main characters in gaming, who constantly insults other drivers with bad one-liners (including 'your mum' insults) and comes off as a jerk. Moving on, you are a guy trying to get to the top of the racing food chain by completing missions and races. This ties into the reputation system, because as you win races, you earn reputation which helps you unlock more missions and races. It's not just about winning though-you can also make progress in MCLA by simply completing races. Sure, you won't earn as much money or rep, but you're still making progress. This means that if you're not so skilled at MCLA, then you can still make slight progress.

            And good lord, thank goodness this is true. Let's be frank here-Midnight Club LA is brutal, at least at first. As you buy your first car and do some of your first races, prepare to get, as said online, owned. Not only can the A.I. be brutal as they do a good job of either speeding ahead of you the moment you crash or overtaking you, you can feel cheated. The main challenge here is with traffic. Most of the time, roads are chocked up with oncoming or same-road traffic which usually can knock you out of the race if crashed into. That said, it's not impossible to catch up to other drivers in the game-it is just that you will probably struggle to. It's not always fair either-at one point the game glitches on me, as the car sunk through the floor, so to speak, and floated for about 30 seconds which was more than enough time for the other drivers to fly right past me. It's certainly unfortunate, though it only happened once throughout my 20 hours with MCLA.

            Let's be clear about something though-MCLA is only punishing at the start of the game. Once you buy the right vehicle for you, upgrade it and make progress into the game, while still not an easy ride, becomes a smoother experience. And this is a somewhat good point about the game because after you get past the first gruelling hours, you are satisfied with the next dozen or so hours of MCLA, making this a satisfying game. Once you have played some races and gotten used to the smooth handling and tight controls and gotten a good car, then MCLA becomes a very fun game that will suck you in and keep you playing past the 20 hours mark.

            This is because the content in MCLA is vast. There's just so much to do here that it boggles the mind. Missions pop up constantly, each containing up to four races. You can also find people driving around the city constantly looking for races as well as people who will call you up and ask for a race. You can also enter Arcade mode and Goal Attack mode for even more races, and go online with up to 16 players and race. There's also a race editor which lets you make your own races with quite a bit of freedom, as you place checkpoints around the city. There's just so much to do with MCLA, and there are some decent achievements too. You must play through the story win a certain number of race types and more to keep you busy for months.

            Obviously this doesn't mean anything if the core game sucks, and thankfully, the game doesn't. The game plays a lot like Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition. Standard races require you to race around the open-world city of LA, as you pass through the checkpoints of each race. There is some room for imagination as hidden shortcuts can be used to win races, but mostly it just removes the prospect of the big laser barriers of games like Need for Speed. And unlike Burnout Paradise, the game clearly shows you the way to go with a GPS guiding you and big flares for checkpoints. There are a couple of spins on the standard race formula, including circuits which are lapped races, deliveries where you must take a car to a location on time without too much damage and payback where you must smash up targets and wreck their car for money. The latter two can earn you some serious cash.

            The vehicle selection is quite good, if not the biggest ever. Vehicles are split into catagories. You get your standard tuners, muscle cars, exotics, luxury and motorbikes here. There are some more modern cars in MCLA, including the new Saleen S302 Extreme, Audi RS4 and new motorbikes like the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14 and the Ducati Monster. While the vehicle selection isn't massive, you can create your own unique visual style on the vehicles with the robust vehicle customization tools. There's so much to customize, from the rims to the spoilers to the window tint and you can even customize the interior of your car. It's very deep, and you could spend hours trying to make that awesome vehicle you can sell online in the 'rate-a-ride mode'.

            There is also a twist in MCLA in the form of the special abilities. Found in the previous Midnight Club, there are four special abilities you can use in the game. There's ZONE, which slows down time and makes dodging traffic easier, ROAR which shoves all the cars out of the way, AGRO which makes you invincible to damage from crashing into other cars and makes you car powerful enough to push them out of the way and EMP which disables all the nearby opponent vehicles for a few seconds, slowing them down. By far the most effective ability, for me at least, is ZONE. Traffic is a huge opponent in MCLA, and being able to avoid them with more precision is a helpful tool. Then again, AGRO helps shove them out of the way. The abilities can be used multiple times once you've used the abilities enough to level them up. Abilities add a nice strategic twist to racing as deciding which ability is best can win, or in extreme cases lose, you a race.

            There are some minor issues with the open world. Despite how cool they were in Most Wanted, the police presence here is minimal. It's a shame to see the cops sometimes pulling you over to give you a fine, which is boring. Thankfully, you can push the trigger down and simply drive off before getting a ticket, and thankfully get a head start. If you escape, you'll earn some rep, but if not, you'll lose money and be taken to the nearby police station. If you're merely travelling to a race, you'll find that being arrested by cops is annoying. Also, aside from little collectables to unlock cheat codes, there's little reason to explore the open world aside from finding races. It's a shame because there could have been such potential.

            Races are very exciting. As you rush past other drivers using a draft system, it's thrilling with a huge sense of speed. When you manage to avoid the traffic, it sends chills down your spine and makes you sweat. There are just so many moments where you say 'oh snap'. There are some occasional issues like that parked cars are hard to see, especially at night where you can't see. Also, the Map here isn't the best. It looks pretty, as it shows you the entire map in 3D form, but it doesn't show you the best way to find races. Speaking of which, the difficulty isn't scaled very well. Each race is coloured in colours from green (easiest) to red (hardest) but most of the time, a green race is just as hard as a red race which is a shame.

            Aside from the single player modes, there is also multiplayer on Xbox Live or System link. While single player races never jumped over 5 racers, online up to sixteen players can race in a variety of modes. Players can cruise around LA until someone wants to do a race. Then you can choose from several race types including capture the flag, standard races and stockpile which is where a cluster of flags spawn and you must return all the flags in that cluster to spawn more flags. The modes are great, the lag is minimal and the online is very fun. The only thing is that the first game I played was against a guy who picked the worst car in the game (I had the best bike in the game) and just as I was about to win the race, the dude left the match. He then sent me a message to file a complaint on his name to get it change...and I think you can guess what happens next :)

            The visuals in MCLA are simply gorgeous. Okay, so it doesn't look exactly like Los Angeles, but damn it this city looks pretty close. Many of famed locations from Los Angeles are here, and it can be quite fun to find all the hidden shortcuts in LA. Texture work is excellent, car models look nearly identical to their real-life counter parts, the frame rate never chops up and the day-to-night effects are excellent. However, there are some issues. The mixing of real-life locations from LA with the blatant in-game advertising locations can be jarring. It ruins the effect of the city, and there are even two sponsored achievements. LAME! Also, textures can take several seconds to pop in, which is downright ugly. It's weird seeing detailed vehicles with blurry textures.

            The sound doesn't always fare as well, but is pretty strong too. The engine effects roar with anger and scream with different levels of sound depending on whether you have a weak car or a high end speed demon. The soundtrack is awesome. There are so many different genres and artists, including Bloc Party, Chemical Brothers, Disturbed, G-Unit, Primal Scream and so many more. It's not only a varied set list, but it's also filled with so many quality songs. Unfortunately the game lets itself down somewhat, with horribly cheesy voice work and clichéd characters which are universally lame. The characters just stink of cheese and are awful. This is nothing new to Midnight Club, but it seems to have a bigger impact here.

            Is Midnight Club Los Angeles good, bad or ugly?

            Midnight Club LA is one of the better racing games released this year. That might not be saying much, considering Race Driver: Grid among other games have wowed racing fans this year, but MCLA is a great next-generation debut for the series. It's the best looking game in the series by far, with very impressive visuals, but the actual gameplay is great. It's a tough start, with a brutal learning curve right at the beginning of the game. This could mean that you'll give up on the game long before you get to the good stuff, but, for the love of god, don't because once you get past the initially steep learning curve, MCLA is awesome. If you need a racing game to swallow your time until a big game comes out, then MCLA is a great choice.

            Controls=9
            Gameplay=8
            Graphics=9
            Sound=8
            Value=10
            Overall=8.8

            Midnight Club LA was released on October 24th, 2008 on Xbox 360, PS3 and PSP. It is rated 12+ for language and can be brought for around £35 if not cheaper.

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