Midnight Club: Los Angeles review
Available for
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Publisher
Rockstar
Midnight Club: Los Angeles

Reviewed by Jason Thompson

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S

o here we are with yet another edition of Rockstar’s infuriating “Midnight Club” franchise. How one company can make such great action games like the “Grand Theft Auto” series or “The Warriors,” and even a pretty good “sports” game like “Rockstar Table Tennis” and completely crap out on their racing games is beyond me. Nothing over the years has changed about the core experience of this series. Basically, you will lose. Over and over again, you will lose, and you will want to throw your controller and rip your hair out. It hasn’t been fun since the very first game in the series, and basically it still sucks.

Why, you ask? Mainly because of the ridiculously cheap nature of the AI. There are plenty of times when you’ll find yourself at the back of the pack in a race and suddenly catching up, even taking first place. But you’ll soon find that the AI-driven cars suddenly become almost perfect in their racing when you do, meaning any little mistake you make will pretty much be your downfall. Oh, and there are plenty of mistakes to make here. From the crappy physics of just turning the cars around corners (and no, the new “driving on two wheels” corner feature doesn’t make this any better), to just accidentally plowing into something, be it another car, wall, whatever, and being completely spun around and stopped dead in your tracks. Oh yeah, you’ll be trying to turn your car around as fast as you can while your wheels skid and more traffic plows into you, causing you to restart that race on the “easy” level for the 100th time.

Seriously. This shit is no fun.

And it doesn’t matter that this time around Rockstar has widened its customization features that first arrived in “Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition.” This is another one of those instances that even if you upgrade your parts to the Nth degree, you’ll still find yourself being beaten easily for all of the aforementioned problems. Perhaps there’s a great racing game underneath all the clutter, but you wouldn’t know it because Rockstar’s done nothing but dress it up every time out, without addressing the core concerns of the crummy driving physics.

And, well, the story in the game seems to be ripped from the pages of the last couple of “Need for Speed” games. You, as the main dude, stroll into town looking for hot cars and fast races to compete in. You’ll start with a junker and move your way up, racing different breeds of cars, and even a motorcycle. In the meantime, rival gang leaders will want to stop you, while overzealous cops will try to arrest you. Oh yeah, those cop chases are about as much fun as an ice pick in the eyeball. Want to get away? Too bad. Don’t waste the extra time trying it. Just pay the fine and try to enjoy the rest of the game.

Like the “Forza Motorsport” series, this game also allows you to create your own car vinyls. This might be the most enjoyable aspect of the game, as it doesn’t require any racing. But you might as well go ahead and play “Forza 2,” as the racing in that game is impeccable. Here, you’ll be doing the same old stretched-out point-to-point and circuit races you’ve come to know and love (or hate) in previous versions of this game. And really, when Rockstar integrates this very same experience into most every one of its GTA games, why even bother with these?

There’s online play that is just as frustrating as the solo action. How anyone has the patience to sit around and get good at this game is a mystery. There is also the requisite “hip” soundtrack featuring a bunch of crappy rap tunes, and the occasional wild card artist like Beck and Thom Yorke to change things up a bit. But you won’t hear them over your screams of frustration when playing this game. That said, “Midnight Club Los Angeles” is yet another lazy sequel of perhaps one of the worst racing franchises ever. It’s the perfect game if you want to see if you can make yourself Hulk out. Otherwise, don’t even waste your rental money.

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