- Title: Midnight Club: Los Angeles
- Publisher: Rockstar
- Developer: Rockstar San Diego
- ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen
- Genre: Racing
- Pros: Gorgeous graphics; impressive model of L.A.; fun racing; online play
- Cons: Car list leaves you wanting; the Police; high difficulty
Midnight Club: L.A. plops you down in Los Angeles, hooks you up with goofy characters that you race for, and then sets you loose out into the city to find other racers and make them eat your dust. The city of Los Angeles in the game isn’t an exact replica and is instead just the fun parts of the city scrunched together to make for more exciting racing. There are plenty of shortcuts and hidden paths you can take through the city and the design overall is very racing friendly as there aren’t too many unbreakable objects that stop you dead in your tracks or too many impossibly tight corners. The traffic in the game is also noteworthy because it is easily the densest traffic I have ever seen in an open world racer. Considering that this is L.A., it makes sense, but it is still very cool just how much traffic is on screen at once.
The car list in Midnight Club: L.A. is a bit of a letdown. There are 40+ vehicles total split between muscle, luxury, tuner, and exotic cars and only 3 bikes. They are all real world vehicles that you can upgrade with real world parts, but the choppers and SUVs from MC3 are nowhere to be found and some of the included cars just make you scratch your head. Who the heck wants to drive a 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco?
There are a few different race types such as checkpoint races, red light races where you find your way to an objective any way you like, time trials, freeway races, as well as events where you have to deal out damage to your opponent as well as deliver cars with minimal damage. An onscreen arrow generally points you in the right direction as you navigate the city, but until you learn the layout it is pretty easy to miss turns and get lost. One complaint I do have is that being able to jump directly to races would have been nice, since trying to track down an opponent by driving all over town gets old pretty quickly. It is especially annoying when you are driving to your next race and the Police start chasing you because you were speeding or drove through a park or something.
The difficulty in the game also poses a bit of a problem. The A.I. drives a bit too perfectly, and even fairly early on in the game if you don’t drive perfectly yourself you can’t win. You’d think that you could just buy new parts and make your car better, but the A.I. cars upgrade at the exact same pace you do, so you never really have an advantage.
The graphics are generally very impressive. The city is absolutely gorgeous and the day/night cycle is very cool. The cars don’t look nearly as good as the environment, however. They look good, don’t get me wrong, but look more like Hot Wheels die-cast cars driving through a realistic world. They are a bit too flawless and smooth compared with the grit of the environment. The game still looks great overall, though, and the framerate is fairly smooth.
The sound is also pretty good all around. The cars all sound very nice, and the soundtrack is decent although with custom soundtracks who listens to default game music anymore? The dialogue is typical “trying too hard to be tough and street” cheesy nonsense, but that is nothing out of the ordinary for the genre.