Midnight Club II Review

Midnight Club II is a game of street racing that lets you enjoy everything that is fun and exciting about the highly illegal sport without any of the potentially deadly consequences. You get the opportunity to race a car at high speeds through the crowded streets of LA, Paris, and Tokyo, dodging traffic and pedestrians while avoiding the police. It all makes for a great racer that is a blast to play, and one that will provide plenty of challenge even to those who play racing games all the time.

Midnight Club II is a great game for a number of reasons, the first being the recreations of the three cities appearing in the game. You get the full urban driving experience, from freeways to urban grids, from wide avenues to twisting mountain roads. Just as in actual cities there are many ways to get from Point A to Point B, and part of the fun of the game is finding the best route to complete a race. Since this is a game, you have even more options than in an actual city because you can take shortcuts through parks, down pedestrian malls, and across plazas. Pay attention and you'll also find objects and buildings that can be used for jumps across buildings, lots, and rivers to help you shave more time and distance off of your runs.

Screenshots
Racing through downtown LA.

Even though all the races take place at night (the game is called Midnight Club after all), your races through the streets of LA, Paris, and Tokyo will not be on deserted highways and empty streets. There will be traffic of all types on the roads including cars, busses, and trucks, and pedestrians on the sidewalks and crosswalks. The thrill of racing in the game comes from more than pushing your car to the max and out driving the competition; you also need to successfully navigate through traffic while keeping your car in one piece. Also, some of the other cars out there belong to the police and they won't be too thrilled that you are racing through the streets of their fine city. The police will pursue you as you race, create roadblocks, and even give chase with helicopters. Sometimes you'll need to concentrate more on shaking the police than you will on beating the other racers since an arrest will end your racing days.

The game's main mode of play is its Career mode. This mode starts you off in Los Angeles as a new street racer with the most basic of cars. You'll encounter a variety of personalities who will both coach and berate you as you participate in a series of races against them and their racing clubs. Finishing first in a race enables you to the play the next in the series until you eventually reach a one-on-one race with your main adversary. Win this race and you win his or her car and get to move on to the next series of races.

You'll face a variety of race types as you advance in your street racing career. The basic race requires you to pass through a series of checkpoints as you race from the start of the course to the finish. The checkpoints appear as glowing auras that float above the streets, with large arrows at the center pointing you in the direction of the next checkpoint. The heads-up display also shows you a map of the immediate vicinity to help you locate the next checkpoint on the route. There is no required route between the checkpoints and you are free to choose your route and take any shortcuts and cut any corners that you'd like to. There are always many paths to choose from over the course of a race and you'll probably need to run a race several times to find the optimal path to take. Other races will let you hit the checkpoints in any order (which really gives you a lot of choices on how to run your race) or will require that you reach the next checkpoint within a given time limit.