The games in the street-racing genre just keep getting cooler and cooler. One might say that the developers are ‘pimping’ their videogame rides. This continues to be true through Rockstar’s Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition for the Xbox, thanks to a more realistic presentation than its previous incarnations, and real cars instead of the fictional mock-ups they’ve used in the past.
The thing that makes street-racing games different from your run-of-the-mill racing games is the ability to modify your vehicle ad infinitum. In the street-racing scene, it’s important to have a unique vehicle that stands out and impresses your peers. Midnight Club 3 allows you to do this like no other game. With around sixty vehicles available and an insane amount of purchasable items, you can upgrade and modify your car to a whim. Midnight Club 3 truly offers the opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind vehicular masterpiece. You can replace the engine, the brakes, intake, and basically any other performance related part of your car if it will make your beast go faster or handle better. This is important as it is needed for you to gain access to and win the high stakes races that will bring in the rivers of cash needed to continue modification of your ride.
Of course, the real fun comes in to play when you start to visually modify your speedster. You can change the paint color – of course – but you aren’t limited to the colors that are initially available. If you pay an extra fee you gain access to a color palette, which sports virtually every color you can imagine. For example, no longer are you limited to the initial shade of green that your car comes in. Now you can have neon green, grass green, dark green–whatever you want. This option is available not only for your car’s paint job, but also for a number of other parts as well. This includes the vinyl decal designs you put on your car, like flames and stripes. You can change your front and rear fenders, wheels, tires, window tinting, hood, exhaust caps, lights, hydraulic systems, sides, and spoilers. In addition, you can customize your license plate, add some sweet looking vinyl designs to the side of your car, add decals showing off the manufacturers you like, and add badges. The vinyl designs are what will really help your car to stand out, and there are a ton of them on offer. The more progress you make in the game, the more vinyl designs and other items you will have to customize with. As mentioned above, you can adjust the colors on the vinyl designs so that they are solely your own. You can even choose what color flame shoots out of your exhaust pipes when you use nitrous.
The best part is that you can start customizing the heck out of your car right away. A couple of quick races and you’ll soon have enough money to make your vehicle look authentically bad-ass. This puts the game a step ahead of the rest, as most of the other racing games give you limited options at first, forcing you to race a lot with a rather dull looking car. Most gamers want to race, but they also want to be able to customize their car right off the bat. Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition delivers this in spades.
The actual cars you are customizing are an integral part of the game, so let’s focus on them for a while. There are real cars at you disposal in DUB Edition: Chevrolet, Hummer, Lexus, Volkswagen, Pontiac, Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi, McLaren – the list goes on. The game even sports motorcycles, and you can race them against cars. Automobile segregation is not a problem in the world of Midnight Club 3. The game has around sixty different vehicles and, when coupled with the sheer amount of customization you can inflict on your ride, that’s quite a wide selection. In addition, these aren’t just modern cars; you can get your oily paws on classic cars as well. How about a 1957 Bel Air landing in your lap, just begging to be completely tricked out? Whet your appetite? All the modifications you can make on the newer cars are also available for the older models. The ability to modify every available car is definitely a treat.
When you begin the game in Career mode, you start out in San Diego, but you later gain access to other cities. Each city is huge, so you have plenty of room to play around in. Using a map you can see exactly where all the races are being held, as well as where specific ‘challenge’ street racers are. When you are not racing, you can simply drive around the city in Cruise Mode. In this mode you have free reign and can drive where ever you wish. There are all sorts of hidden areas to be found, if you don’t mind driving full speed through gates, fences, or windows. Who does? A few minor scratches to your paintwork are well worth the chance to drive straight through the middle of a big league stadium, or a shopping mall.
The races in Midnight Club 3 are abundant in number and always easy to find. You select the race or racer you want from those shown on your map, and you will then be guided there by an arrow. There are a plethora of race types that you can participate in. In Career Mode you have specific street racers that you can compete against, and defeating them will unlock new content. There are City Races, which are specific to the city you are currently in, and Club Races, which require that you drive a particular type of car to participate. There are also Tournaments in which you must participate in a number of consecutive races, accumulating points, and the highest points earner is crowned victorious and usually awarded a new car. Sometimes the tournaments are regular street races, and sometimes you get other types, like the sanctioned Autocross races that have set courses, no traffic, and no opponents. In these cases, the best time wins. In Arcade Mode you can play any of the race types, including Autocross, Track (same as Autocross but with opponents), Capture the Flag, Paint, Cruise, Frenzy (dodging cars), Ordered Race (hit checkpoints in order), Circuit (just like Ordered, but with multiple laps), Tag, and Unordered (hit all the checkpoints in any order). There is a great deal of race types on offer here, so the game’s replay value subsequently receives a considerable boost.
The gameplay on show here is brilliantly put together. You can jump straight in and start racing, and within thirty minutes (or less) you can be gleefully customizing your car. The options available in both Career mode and Arcade mode in regards to race type are quite phenomenal. The cars all handle differently according to type, size, and age, but overall their control always is excellent. Driving these babies is an absolute cinch, and easy to get the hang of. Weaving in and out of traffic becomes second nature after a while. All the normal tricks like using the hand brake around corners apply. In addition to the normal driving controls, Rockstar has gone a bit further and added even more to your driving repertoire. First of all, you can get a Nitrous Boost if you have the tanks installed on your car. That is a common addition in most street-racing games. However, not so common are the In-Air Control, Roar, Zone, and Agro options. In-Air Control lets you tilt your car to a more preferable landing position after achieving a little air, while Agro lets those driving SUVs to plow through any competition or anything else that gets in their way. Roar lets you scare traffic out of the way with a loud engine rev, and is only available to muscle cars and choppers. Zone lets you slow time down so you can fit smoothly through small spaces or glide around tight corners. Some of these abilities need to be unlocked, but they all add a little something special to the gameplay that other street-racing games just don’t have. These options add veritable spice to the game, and allow you that little advantage when it comes to tipping the racing scales in your favor.
Midnight Club 3 has online capabilities, so you can take your best cars out on the Xbox Live highway and race against other self-proclaimed street-racing champions. Plus, Rockstar has included a Race Editor, so you can construct your own personal race. You can place all of the checkpoints, including starting line and finish line. You can even customize the number of laps, the race type, time of day, and the weather. As you cruise through the cities you’ll notice certain areas that none of the available races pass through – which would be perfect for a street race. This is where the Race Editor comes in. You can even edit tracks that you have recently raced on online. The editor is easy to use, with multiple angles to let you inspect all aspects of your creation. When you are finished creating, you can take a test drive through the track to ensure everything works well for racing. Track editors are always a popular feature in racing games, therefore including an editor in Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition was definitely a smart move.
The graphics are flashy, bright, and dizzying, which is perfect for this type of game. When you start to reach extremely high speeds, and the scenery starts to blur, you will know what this means. The lights reflecting off your car’s paint job is perfectly executed and looks awesome. On top of this, the Rockstar have actually included different types of paint jobs. You can witness Gloss, Metallic, Pearlescent, Color Shift, and Matte to list but a few. The light reflects differently on all of these. The cityscapes are rendered wonderfully, and you really get the feeling that you are hurtling through real city streets. There are people populating the neighborhoods, traffic on the streets, and a ton of different types of buildings and architecture. There are industrial, commercial, and residential areas that all have individual looks. Scenery repetition is limited and it is obvious that Rockstar worked extremely hard to craft every inch of the cities to make them tangible and unique. And let’s not forget the vehicle damage. The more you slam into things and crash, the more vehicle damage will be visible. It does (magically) fix itself after each race, though, so you can still look sharp for your next outing.
The game’s sound is a perfect companion for the graphics, and is equally as flashy as its visual compatriot. With the screeching of tires, the roaring of engines, and the authentic sounds of a bustling city all packed into the audio package, the game always ‘sounds’ nothing short of wonderful. Top this aural milkshake off with some excellent music, of which some tracks haven’t even been released yet – Nine Inch Nails – and you get a tasty treat for the ears of gamers everywhere.
Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition is an absolute blast to play. It nails the street-racing scene perfectly, melding it with some stunning visuals and sound, and gives it all a nitrous boost in the form of some top notch gameplay. Instantly accessible, this game is definitely worth a test drive for both the hardcore racing gamer and those new to the genre.