Midnight Club: LA Remix Review

The first appearance of Midnight Club on the PSP was memorable for the fact that the load times were longer than the races themselves. In fact, I can remember actually falling asleep once during a particularly lengthy load. Thankfully, Midnight Club: LA Remix features significantly shorter load times and you'll spend more time racing than you will staring at load screens. And with all that extra time to spend racing, you'll find LA Remix to actually be kind of fun.

LA Remix is a street racing game set in Los Angeles and Tokyo. You don't get detailed virtual versions of these cities as you do in the console versions of the game, though. The LA in this game could pass for just about any large city, and Tokyo looks similar to LA, but with lots of neon. This isn't entirely unexpected for a portable game, though, and besides, most of the time you'll be driving too fast to enjoy the scenery. There's some virtual traffic on the streets that you'll need to avoid while racing, but neither city is all that crowded.

The game's script is pretty typical for a street racing game. You're an unknown racer trying to race your way up the ranks and gain enough cred to race the champions and earn the right to be known as the best street racer in town. To accomplish this you check your map for available races or answer calls on your cell phone that will let you know where to find particular street racers to challenge. Anyway, I doubt anyone plays these types of games for the story, so let's move on to the racing.

The game does a good job of conveying a sense of speed to the racing. Normally this is a good ting, but in the case it makes the racing more difficult. On the PSP's small screen, it can be difficult to see traffic and other obstacles until they are right in front of you. It can also be difficult to see upcoming intersections and turns, and near impossible to see the numerous shortcuts along side alleys or pedestrian walkways. Most of the time you'll have to race with one eye on the mini map which sits in the lower left corner of the screen. The tricky navigation is made even trickier by the way the race routes are marked. The game's open world design leaves you free to choose your own route while racing, but you still need to hit the markers placed in certain intersections in order to complete the race. These markers come in the form of giant plumes of smoke that can be seen from a little ways off. Unfortunately it can still be a little tricky trying to find exactly where the next smoke marker is placed, as anyone who has driven around trying to find the location of a searchlight can attest to. These navigational issues all detract from the joys of racing down streets at blinding speeds, but not enough to drain all of the fun out of the game.