Midtown Madness 3

xbox
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DEVELOPER: Digital Illusions   |   PUBLISHER: Microsoft Game Studios   |   RELEASE: 06/17/2003

Microsoft’s latest first party game sneaks it’s way into our hands early. Find out if this game is worth buying before it comes out! Though it doesn’t happen often, we here at ZTGD are always happy to get early copies of games to review. It happened before with Contra on PS2 and now we are proud to bring you Midtown Madness 3 for the XBox. For those uninformed Midtown Madness was a very popular PC racer that made it’s name from open road racing through highly detailed city streets. MM3 is the first appearance of the series on a console and it’s also the first game not developed by Angel Studios. Can it still please old and new fans alike? Only we can tell you in our exclusive review of Midtown Madness 3, cue the Reading Rainbow music and let’s get started.

I See London I See France!
The MM series has always been famous for it’s uncanny recreations of real cities. For the third outing the team has decided to use Paris and Washington D.C. to wreak havoc upon. The cities are absolutely huge, their scale is impressive to say the least. Landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and Washington Monument are yours for the thrashing. Breezing across the streets can seem overwhelming at first, there is just so much to see and do in this game. The frame rate is rock solid and the textures are marvelous. While the cities are large in scope the details can sometimes seem bland and uninspired, getting the feeling you have seen this street before is a common occurence. Fear not though the cities are so large you honestly don’t notice it much, but the real question is, what exactly do you do in these large ass cities? Gameplay is a key element in any kind of game, I mean driving around mindlessly gets boring after so long so let’s take a look at the gameplay element shall we?

Get The Door, It’s Madness!
The single player experience of MM3 can become tedious very quickly. It consists of two main modes of play, employment where you basically take odd jobs around each city and the traditional racing mode. The employment mode is where the fun starts to drag, taking job after job will become arid very quickly. Hopping from checkpoint to checkpoint trying to outrun your rival is not my idea of a great time. A quick tip for those taking notes in most jobs the only checkpoint that matters is the last one, so make sure you cross it before your rival does. Then there is the racing mode, which if you have played Midnight Club 2 you are most familiar with. You basically race through a series of checkpoints against a timer. There is also of course Blitz Racing where you can do the same exact thing against other racers. Sure this may sound humdrum and mediocre but wait there is a saving factor to this game.

The online mode absolutely rocks, I have never had this much fun on XBox Live. Me and a fellow game editor spent damn near four hours the first night playing Capture The Gold, it is like a drug addiction. Multi-player is where this game shines and totally makes up for the prosaic single player experience. Fear not newbie gamers, you are NOT required to complete any of the single player game to unlock cars for online, they are already there for you! Sure this may take some incentive away from playing it alone but honestly this game isn’t meant for the solo gamer. Online you have an abundance of modes awaiting your enjoyment. As I already mentioned my personal fav is Capture The Gold, this mode randomly spawns a pot of gold and each player bolts after it and tries to take it back to a hideout. You can also steal gold from other players in the process which makes for some hellacious games.

Other modes include your typical checkpoint racing, cruise mode, tag, and hunter mode. Tag is self explanatory so I won’t bore you with the details. Hunter mode is actually also very addictive, one player is the hunter and it is his/her job to track down every other player and knock them out before the time runs out. This becomes very frantic very quickly. My only gripe about the online play is that there are no scoreboards but alas I can live without them. Throw this all together with downloadable content and you have one massively addictive multi-player experience.

Whoops I Od’d!
Just like it’s visuals MM3 does deliver in the sound department, well sort of. For starters the ambience is excellent. Smashing into a wall at 180mph never sounded better or hurt so good. You can hear the “but” coming can’t you? It’s dreaded in every review of any game ever, but it is here. The voice overs are downright horrible, the actors seems as if they are really trying too hard to sound convicing. Their accents are forced and their dialogue sounds bland. Now for more good, this game supports custom soundtracks, yipee! More bad, if you don’t have any (and once again shame on you!) you are subjected to horrible in-game music. Now for more bad, there seems to be a problem with the soundtrack feature hence the title of this paragraph. While playing online my game seemed to love the very last track on my playlist, which is of course Whoops I Od’d by NOFX. I heard this song so many fucking times I almost hate it, I don’t understand why the game does this but it does. Overall the sound is great and of course it is all being brought to you in Dolby Digital 5.1.

Shellin’ Out The Dough??
So the big question on your mind is “Should I buy this game?” Well that is simple, if you plan to get on XBox Live or even system link with a buddy then yes, this game is a must own title. If you plan to drive alone then pick up something else, perhaps Midnight Club 2 or Project Gotham (yes it still kicks ass). MM3 is a solid multi-player experience with single player thrown in for good measure. Gorgeous graphics and huge cities make this game another showpiece for the XBox hardware, but if you are playin’ alone it certainly isn’t worth your hard earned 50 bucks! Only recommended for gamers in need of some multi-player action.

Ken McKown

Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.