Midnight Club 3 DUB Edition Review

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Graphics: 8.5
Sound : 9.0
Gameplay : 8.0
Multiplayer : 8.5
Overall : 8.5
Review by Alex D.
Rockstar Games has once again pushed out a stellar title, better known as Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition. How many series can you remember that progressively get better with each installment? Not many and that is a guarantee. Improving on all the issues of the previous title, alongside the addition of a plethora of licensed vehicles, damage modeling, brand-new multiplayer modes and three fresh cities to cruise through, are but a few of the highlights of the new installment. Dub Edition innovates on vehicular customization and the entire underground tuner scene in such a way that NFSU2 pales in comparison. Coupled with great graphics and an amazing soundtrack, Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition advances leaps and bounds ahead of the Need for Speed: Underground series and will propel itself to the top of any street racing fan’s list.

Many aspects of Midnight Club 3 have been completely redesigned and this is deliberately obvious, but very welcomed. The first and most noticeable change is the game’s menus, which have been completely redesigned and simplified. If anyone can remember Midnight Club 2, the nightmarish menus must immediately jump to mind. Thankfully, this issue was settled and a PhD is no longer required when trying to launch the career mode.

The latest installment in the street racing series also features some new modes of play alongside a few new race types. For offline gamers, the mandatory career mode is present and will challenge gamers from start to finish with a very lengthy playtime - in excess of 20 hours! Much like its predecessor, races revolve mainly around getting from one checkpoint to another, represented in the form of enormous yellow arrows in a beam of smoke glowing sky high for all to see. Races are much more open-ended and players are now free to choose their own route for arriving from one checkpoint to another. The addition of a few new race modes helps spice up the monotonous racing and brings a welcomed change of pace. Also new to Midnight Club 3 is the implementation of special competitions and private racing events for specific vehicle models alongside the returning head-to-head challenges to move up in ranking and respect in the underground tuner scene. In club races, players are challenged to extensive and challenging events where only unusual vehicles are allowed, i.e.: muscle car races, luxury sedans, choppers and sports bikes, etc. In either match-up, there is more than enough money to be made to keep your engine running.

The Midnight Club series has always been about modified cars and insane speeds, and while the latter is still present in the game, players are now given the choice of overhauling their cars’ performance and body, much like the NSFU series. Players begin the game with a start-up amount of 22,000$ which is plentiful enough to purchase a singular vehicle and begin on their way to the top of the tuner scene. With each race won, considerable amounts of money are given to players and these sums increase significantly the further players progress in their career. Completing certain races will unlock new upgrades for car models and allow players to give themselves the edge over opponents in races. All upgrading is handled at the city’s garage and is always open for players. Scouring through the cities in search of a categorical shop a la NFSU2 is not a problem with Midnight Club 3. Performance upgrades are handled in a 3-tier mode and are progressively unlocked through career mode, the same is said for the body kits although they are in abundance.

This time around, Rockstar went all out with Dub Edition and decided to include over 50 real, licensed vehicles to their roster. Ranging from luxury sedans, American muscle cars, choppers and speed bikes, SUVs, tuners and exotics, there is more than enough horsepower present in MC3 to keep racing fans content. As I previously mentioned, each kind of car or bike has special private clubs, where enthusiasts meet up to race each other for big prizes and lumps of cash. Each competition spreads over all three of the game’s new cities: San Diego, Atlanta, Detroit, and will occasionally reward players with unlockable parts to pimp out their rides. Another new addition to the latest title is the implementation of damage modeling to vehicles. That is right, cars will get banged up and windows will shatter and force players to respawn in a brand new car at the price of a few precious seconds if too much damaged is incurred during the race. Albeit an extremely generous amount of damage, the fact that licensed cars can actually take visible damage is quite a leap from the previous installment and the NFSU series.

As I quickly mentioned above, Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition features three fresh cities for players to cruise through. Players will no longer be visiting far away countries like Tokyo and the likes, but will be staying close to home. Starting in the city of San Diego, gamers will be given the chance to visit Atlanta and Detroit for some intense racing against the top ranked street racing of the United States. Returning to previous cities is extremely simple and is quite amusing, especially when riding in some of the stronger cars the game has to offer.

A problem in many racing titles is AI; the smallest little slip up could cause a whole race to be forfeit and make players restart from scratch, sometimes even multiple times. This was one of the many issues that plagued MC3’s predecessor, but has thankfully been addressed once and for all. Dub Edition incorporates a much more flexible AI than that of other racing games and modifies the difficulty level of your opponents based on your performance on previous tracks. Rubber-band adversaries are also not a problem, getting into accidents and falling behind in position should not discourage players as the opposition can be caught up to and are also prone to suspiciously hazardous driving and accidents. It is nice to feel that you are not being cheated while racing, such as opponents magically catching up and using perfect driving techniques while taking turns at 100 M/H.

Returning to MC3 is the multiplayer mode, notorious for its cheating, available through System Link and Xbox Live. Gone are the days of the bat mobile and hosts disconnecting in the middle of the race. Players are now restricted to cars unlocked during their single player campaign and much like Halo 2, Midnight Club 3 features an option titled: Host Migration, where if the host disconnects during a game, the second player to join the server then switches to hosting the game and so on. Alongside the standard Voice Chat through the Xbox Communicator are live-tracked stats, rankings and a new club-like mode, allowing users to create “clans” with friends. Both System Link and Xbox Live feature up to eight players per match and thanks to the requirements of Xbox Live, lag and warping are not issues, which many will be grateful for considering the importance of ping in such games. With the return of the classic ordered, non-ordered and cruise modes are a few new ones that are extremely fun to play. Tag and CTF are but a few of the new game types and should be experienced by all who are lucky enough to have MC3 and Xbox Live.

Visually speaking, Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition is quite solid…for the most part. The sense of speed achieved in the title is superbly captured and is easily comparable to Burnout 3. Rockstar San Diego has created extremely believable cities and this is seen when slowly cruising around. Pedestrians, automobiles and the likes plague the streets and alleyways of the cities and help make San Diego and the others feel like living, breathing places. Even during races, cars and obstacles can be found peppered through out the map and make the races feel like real urban street racing. The problem with this arises when the game decides to throw in weather effects like rain and whatnot into the middle of a race. Due to the sheer amount of action developing on-screen at once, the framerate tends to drop more than once. The many vehicles in the game all look superb and exactly like their real-life counter-parts however, the same cannot be said for the pedestrian vehicles. These look exactly like the ones in Max Payne from 2001, and by this, I mean heavy cardboard boxes with wheels. Although Midnight Club 3 is not perfect in the graphics department, it is incredibly solid and successfully achieves what it was aiming for.

The sound department of Midnight Club 3 is another area where the game truly excels. Featuring a surprisingly long soundtrack with some of today’s hottest singers, the latest installment already succeeds at piecing together a successful soundtrack, unlike NFSU2, which had some of the worst music for its genre. Even with the excellent music, the developers went all out and added the option for users to create their own soundtracks from the music already on their Xbox hard drives. The sound effects are an integral part of the experience, so it was obvious Rockstar had to put a considerable amount of work into this aspect and it truly shows. The engine sounds from the motors, the cars rattling as they fly down the roads at hazardous speeds or anything else in fact all sounds great. All of this can be amplified for those with Dolby Digital and makes Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition quite an audible experience as well as visual.

So to conclude, for those who enjoy a solid arcade racer based on street racing, MC3 will definitely not disappoint. Joining an overall excellent audio-visual experience with a very lengthy career mode and thrilling multiplayer, Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition is currently the best street racing game available. Although it does suffer from some occasional graphical hiccups and bland texturing, these issues are nothing that should hold gamers back from experiencing the true experience offered in this title and I hope to see MC4 top this one off in the near future.