Last fall when Grand Theft Auto: Vice City came out for the PS2, gamers got to witness a myriad of gameplay options. Not only could you shoot, beat up, hold up, and run down people virtually everywhere, but another big draw to the game was the fact that you could jack any car, anywhere, and haul ass around town in it.
Now Rockstar Games has recreated the racing parts of the Grand Theft Auto series and added some great extras in Midnight Club II–the sequel to Midnight Club–out …ow on the Playstation 2. Players get the chance to trade paint and speed dangerously through the city streets of Paris, Los Angeles, and Tokyo.
The visuals are, at the very least, consistent with those seen in the recent GTA: Vice City title on the PS2. Midnight Club II runs at a healthy framerate, but it’s not without its glitches either. It’s easy to draw a comparison to Vice City because the graphics are so much alike. However, there have been some improvements to the way the game seems to draw textures and objects further in the distance–they appear to spool much more smoothly here.
One thing that has made the transition to MCII from other Rockstar titles is the tongue-in-cheek humor that was so prevalent in the Grand Theft Auto series of games. For instance, Staples Center, in downtown Los Angeles, has been renamed Snapper Palace in the game. Other funny jokes and sight gags can be seen around the many streets you will find yourself racing on.
Overall, the graphics do a fine job of conveying the fast and harrowing nature of street car racing. Huge skyscrapers lit up at night can be seen in the distance and oncoming traffic, pedestrians, and the police all occupy the crowded streets and highways where the racing goes down.
The strongest feature of Midnight Club II is without a doubt the soundtrack and associated sound options for the game. The music is an interesting mix of Rap, Techno, House, Bass and Drum, and Atmospheric. Some of the groups appearing on the soundtrack are Art of Trance, Felix Da Housecat, Blumarten, Tre Little and an assortment of others. The music fits perfectly with the action onscreen and will have your sub woofer thumping away as you screech through alleyways.
Speaking of sub woofers, Midnight Club II contains some fantastic sound output options for a PS2 title. Not only does it support the normal stereo sound and Dolby Pro Logic II surround sound, but it also supports the advanced DTS signal. This last option is a fantastic feature which players can thoroughly enjoy if they have their PS2’s set up through a home theater system.
There is not much plot to MCII other than driving like a maniac. Players pick up a car in L.A. and start a race against a 280 pound man named Moses. Aside from Moses, there are some other interesting character racers that you will meet as you progress through the game. Each city has several that you must beat in order to progress and win new features and cars.
As you win races, features in the Arcade mode and Career mode become unlocked and are available for the next race. The types of races to be driven are a mix of time trial, first to win, checkpoint accessed, and survival modes. The learning curve and the pace of the game is average and not too terribly steep although some of the more frustrating aspects of street racing and sloppy controller input are present here.
To offset this, MCII has the option of letting the player use a Logictec Racing Wheel (not included) with the game. The wheel is a substantial improvement over the Analog sticks on the standard PS2 controller, so racing enthusiasts may want to consider this when starting out.
Midnight Club II is not only a packed racing title for one or two players sharing the same console, but it also supports the Sony Online Networking option. If a player has the Broadband and Dial-Up adapter connected to their console and an online service, then MCII will allow you to surf online and find others to race against.
This adds supreme shelf life to the title and ensures that the action never really gets stale. Players will find much to explore on their own in the single player, and will find some tough competition out in the real world through the networking option.
Midnight Club II is a fast, slick racer with excellent sound options and varied gameplay. A definite buy for racing fans everywhere.