The Midtown Madness series always seemed like it would be a perfect fit for a
game console. For those who don't know, the first two installments were only found
on the PC. This time, the third installment of Midtown Madness appears as a console
exclusive on the Xbox. For some reason, though, something seems missing from
the start. Yes, there are accurately detailed cities, licensed cars and insane driving.
But the first two seemed to be a lot more focused on racing, while this one seems
scattered on what it wants to do. Is it an arcade racer or is it a mission-based
racer? It doesn't share the same open-ended feeling like Midnight Club II, and
that's disappointing to see here, especially when you essentially have two large playgrounds
to play on. What is here is half mission-based driving with some arcade races thrown in.
On paper, that doesn't sound bad, but the way it's done definitley will disappoint.
As I said above, Midtwon Madness 3 is a game of two halves. Actually, when you
toss in the online mode, it's more like three thirds. You have the mission (goal)
based driving stages, you have an arcade mode with checkpoint races (with or without
opponents), and there's the online mode. That basically sums up the game. The mission mode
is pretty much the most unsatisfying part of the game. It's never really inventive with
it's goals other than the subject matter. You may have to race against an opponent,
against the clock, or deliver items ala Crazy Taxi. What's worse is the that you almost
always have to go against another opponent who has to have annoying remarks (that
woman in Washington DC is loathesome). There is a bit of redemtion of the game in the
arcade mode. Here, you have a choice of free-roam, blitz or checkpoint races. Free-roam
just lets you explore the city without any objective. It's kind of fun going around
launching your car off jumps and smashing into crap, but it's unfufilling. You'll never
accomplish anything because there's nothing to do other than find new paint schemes
for your car. The Blitz race is kind of fun, as it's you against the clock to make a mad dash through the
checkpoints. Problem is, there's not enough of the races, and they can go pretty
quick. The checkpoint race is pretty much stuff I've seen in the past in other racers.
You and five CPU opponents clear checkpoints to the finish. Like the Blitz races,
there's not enough of them, and they go by fast. It would have been nice to see
that ACTUAL racing was the major "meat" of the game rather than an uninspired
mission mode. There's also online play via Xbox Live, and from what I've heard
from other sites, it does save this game. If I had the chance to go online, perhaps my
attitude towards this game may be different.
The engine itself isn't too bad. Here, Digital Illusions serves up two large and
accuratley modeled versions of Washington DC and Paris. These models of the two
cities are actually better than the ones given in Midnight Club II. But it
seems like a waste when there's not a hell of a lot to do when it comes to goals.
The handling, while arcadey, is easy to get the hang of, and makes driving fairly easy.
See, if the developers would have remembered of that little arcade game San Francisco
Rush, and had been influenced by that to come up with over the top racing events,
this game would have been a lot better. It really would have filled a void that seems
missing in the arcade market. But like I've said through this review, it's a lot of
The visuals of MM3 are pretty good. Most of the textures (actually, all except for
the grass) are well detailed and sharp. The car models, quite a few real-world models,
look excellent and feature some good damage modelling. The lighting is great. The sense of
speed is right on key, and the framerate is smooth. The cities are not empty or
vacant, like Project Gotham Racing. The streets are filled with cars, and the sidewalks
are lined with pedestrians. Both cities look busy, and that adds a bit to the realisitic
look of the game (of course, the game design is far from realistic). The only real
problem with the visuals is with the fade-in on the horizon. Some of the buildings
a far distance away will fade-in. But seeing how large the city is, it's obvious some
sacrifices had to be made.
Where the visuals shine in MM3, the audio falters. While not everything is bad,
there are technical problems, most notably with the soundtracks. For some reason,
no matter how many songs you have in your custom sountrack, the game has trouble shuffling
the songs, or even paying them in order. It seems to get stuck on the last song in
your soundtrack, and will just keep playing it over each race. That's a bug that
should have been fixed, and for those who like to use custom soundtracks, it's
an irritating one. The in-game music is tolerable, but neither memorable or awful.
The character voices, however, are annoying as hell. You'll either be listening
to an annoying woman who gloats over everything, or a backseat driver with a very
stereotypical French accent. You might just want to shut them off.
I wanted to liike Midtown Madness 3. I was happy to see that the once PC
franchise had made the jump to home consoles. But when I actually played the game,
I was unimpressed by what was done here. The mission mode is boring and irritating
with mo real variation. The arcade modes are fun while they last, and it's a mystery
as to why they didn't add more events to both race varieties. If you plan on getting
this game for the Xbox Live feature, you may be happier than I was playing the game offline.
I just saw way too many missed oppertunities for something that could have equaled a
great arcade racer. DICE kind of misfired on this one.