Product Review (October 2008)
RockStar Games - Midnight Club Los Angeles

By Kevin Nakano


Midnight Club Los Angeles is the successor to the best-selling racing game on the PSP system – Midnight Club L.A. Remix. The all-new Midnight Club Los Angeles is the latest release from Rockstar Games and is available for the PLAYSTATION®3, Xbox 360® and the PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system. The player essentially challenges other cars to races through the streets of Los Angeles and includes surface streets as well as freeways. Winning races gives the player more respect and money, two key element for future races. The winnings can be used to finance better cars and make tweaks to the vehicle for improved looks and performance. Building up respect unlocks new races, new cars/motorcycles and performance upgrades. A wide variety of rides are available including muscle cars (Mustang 302, Camaro SS, Charger, Corvette, and Challenger), exotics (Audi R8, Saleen S7, Lamborghini Murcielago Roadster, Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster, and Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder), tuners (Mazda RX-8, Mitsubishi Evo & Eclipse, and VW R32), luxury cars (Mercedes S600 & SL65 AMG) and and even motorcycles (Ducati 999R and Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14).

Races are driven in several cities around Los Angeles including Santa Monica, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Hollywood Hills, and Downtown LA. The graphics are amazing with impressive detail of famous venues. More common places such as 7-11's and Pizza Hut's are seen on the streets. The racing will raise your blood pressure with the highly competitive action in each of the races. The racing environment supports both day and night driving in rain or shine. Systems such as the PS3 support up to 16 players at a time for the ultimate challenge for gamers. A race editor allows users to create their own racing path with checkpoints to challenge others.

Local Maps
The lower left side of the screen shows the driver's current position relative to the areas of interest. The red dot on the screen indicates where the driver needs to go find other drivers or locate the final destination. Other drivers will appear on the screen with different colors indicating the racing difficulty level. The simplified map also helps the player determine the path needed to win the race. The small arrows are color coded and indicate the position and direction of the other racers. The distance between arrows gives the player an accurate indication of relative distance from others.

The player begins by cruising through the city looking for another racer on the map. Once identified, the player flashes their high-beams at the other driver and the race begins. The exception is when any police are nearby. This places the race in another location away from law enforcement.

Large Map
The large map gives the player a complete view of the city. The semitransparent display allows the driver to see the road while also seeing the map and their position. The difficult part about the top-down view of the map is the freeways appear to have intersections, but in many cases do not. This can mislead the driver into thinking an exit exists even though it may not. There are different type of races that involve anywhere from two to six people. An Ordered Race has the race course marked with yellow flares along the path. The final checkpoint is marked with a red flare. The Circuit Race are Ordered Races with multiple laps. The end of each lap is marked with a green flare with the final checkpoint is marked with a red flare.

Police Presence
The police constantly patrol the city and it is rather easy to get caught speeding or causing other mayhem on the city streets. If the police see you violate the law they will attempt to pull you over. If you stop they will cite you. Should you decide to run, they will aggressively pursue you until you crash or lose them with trick driving skills. Once you crash it is usually over and you get arrested. It is actually a lot of fun to rip through the streets with this game, but trying to run from the police seldom results in getting away. Once arrested the police will pull their guns out and ask you to keep your hands up.

Burnout Memory
There is so much going on in the game that it is surprising when events actually stay in memory. During the review, we noticed that many of the burnout marks that our Corvette Z06 left on the street remained there. So as part of a test we did a series of donuts (circular burnouts) in the middle of an intersection and went back to see them. Here, the photo shows the history clearly marked in the street. This is really a cool feature of the game and makes it more realistic when events occur during the races. The game designers deserve a lot of kudos for producing a quality product.

Midnight Club Los Angeles does take some getting used to and the skill level needs to be developed before races can be won. For those looking for a quick and easy win, you might look elsewhere. We found Midnight Club Los Angeles to be a lot of fun and spent hours at a time learning the game. Virtually all of our cars ended up in pretty bad shape after a race with significant body damage due to impacts of all types. In many cases our car flipped over on turns taken too quickly, but the game had mercy and allowed us to continue. If the accident is really bad, the game will indicate Damaged Out and make you start over.

Conclusion
Midnight Club Los Angeles is more fun than one deserves from a street racing game and is designed to support up to 16 players when online. The high level of difficulty can be frustrating at times, but we found that after spending hours playing, our skill improved dramatically. In addition, ditching the standard controller for a more advanced steering wheel system gave us the control needed to fine tune our driving skills. For example, navigating between cars proved to be very difficult for us with the basic controller, but steering between vehicles gave us the advantage we needed to win races. Still, it is no easy task to beat these street racers, which adds to the fun and challenge of this game. While we still lose races most of the time due to obstacles and bad timing through the turns, we have won several times on both one-on-one and multi-car races.

Midnight Club Los Angeles cars and motorcycles offer realistic dynamics especially when mated to a force feedback steering system such as Logitech's G25 or Driving Force Wireless systems. Even though the number of vehicles are somewhat limited, full customization of the interior/exterior, body packages, engine modifications makes it a tuner's dream. Hopefully updates will be added to the game in the future, making it even more fun. Several racing modes make it challenging even for the most experienced players. We spent many hours tuning our skills and finally won a few races through the streets of Los Angeles. The scenery is impressive with many famous landmarks throughout the city. The audio was average with good surround effects when passing cars and crashes. Some may find the level of difficulty too high, but we enjoyed the challenge.

- Kevin Nakano


Midnight Club: Los Angeles Downloadable Content Coming March 12

Midnight Club Los Angeles - South Central

Free South Central Map Expansion and South Central Premium Upgrade feature unique new vehicles, amazing new races and more

New York, NY – February 25, 2009 – Rockstar Games, a publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO), announced today that downloadable content for Midnight Club: Los Angeles will arrive on March 12 for both the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system. This downloadable content offers more streets to race in with the free South Central Map Expansion which expands Midnight Club: Los Angeles by one third, adding four new neighborhoods to make up the iconic district of South Central.

The South Central Premium Upgrade is the total South Central experience for Midnight Club: Los Angeles delivering nine new vehicles, 26 new races, 12 new battle maps, 10 new delivery missions, over 100 new red light races, new vinyl packs, new parts, new music and more - all for the cost of $9.99.

The free South Central Map Expansion will ensure that every racer with either Xbox 360 or PLAYSTATION 3 copies of the game can race online against players that have the South Central Premium Upgrade.

More car packs are coming soon.

The South Central Map Expansion features:

• Map expansion by one third
• Four new neighborhoods
• Price: FREE for both Xbox 360 and PLAYSTATION 3

South Central Premium Upgrade features:

Nine new vehicles:
Luxury
: 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG “Black”
SUV: 2008 Range Rover Supercharged, 2008 Range Rover Sport Super Charged
Lowrider: 1955 Chevy Bel Air, 1963 Buick Riviera, 1964 Chevy Impala, 1965 Chevy Malibu
Muscle: 1970 Chevy Chevelle, 1966 Pontiac GTO

• 26 new races
• 12 new battle maps
• 10 new delivery missions
• 100+ new red light races
• New rims
• New body kits for each new car
• New vinyl pre-sets
• Hydraulics/Airbags unlocked on all new cars
• New music
• Price: $9.99 for PLAYSTATION 3 and 800 MS points for Xbox 360

The South Central Map Expansion and South Central Premium Upgrade for Midnight Club: Los Angeles for the Xbox 360 and PLAYSTATION 3 are rated T for Teen. For more information, please visit www.rockstargames.com/midnightclubLA.




OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player




Review System

Projector: Mitsubishi HC5500 Full-HD 1080p LCD Projector
Screen: Stewart Filmscreen 100" FireHawk Screen on a Luxus Deluxe ScreenWall
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Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier
Bass Management: Miller & Kreisel BMC Mini 5.1 Bass Management Controller
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Game Console: Sony PlayStation3 with 60GB HD and WiFi and HDMI
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DVD Audio/Video Player: Kenwood Sovereign DV-5900M 400-Disc DVD Changer

D-VHS VCR #1: JVC HM-DH30000U D-VHS High-Definition D-Theater VCR
D-VHS VCR #2: Marantz MV8300 D-VHS High-Definition D-Theater VCR
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DVI Cable: AudioQuest DV-1 20m DVI-D Cable
HDMI Cables: Accel Corporation HDMI Adapter and Cables
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Video Generator: Sencore VP300 SDTV/HDTV Video Pattern Generator
Color Analyzer #1: Sencore CP5000 ISF Certified All-Display Color Analyzer
Color Analyzer #2: ColorFacts with GretagMacbeth Eye-One Pro Colorphotometer


Review at a glance


Rockstar Games - Midnight Club Los Angeles


Game Info

  • Release Date: October 20, 2008
  • ESRB: T for Mild Suggestive Themes, Mild Violence, Strong Lyrics
  • Genre: Racing
  • Developer: Rockstar Games
  • Price: $59.99

Official Game Site: http://www.rockstargames.com/midnightclubLA/


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