Midtown Madness 3 Review (Xbox)
Fun. That pretty much says it all, but I wouldn’t be earning my huge reviewers salary if that is all I said. Midtown Madness is sort of a cross between Midnight Club and Crazy Taxi. I was expecting very little and found myself having fun. I know the game looks kind of hokey and the dialogue and the story line are even worse, but the game works.
Downtown Paris and Washington D.C. are the setting for MM3. Nothing like running people over as you drive under the Eiffel Tower. Actually you don’t really get to run people over, they just sort of magically remain standing after you hit them. The surprising thing to me about this game was the way the different cars handled, you will notice a difference between a Mini Cooper and a Sedan. You will also notice the difference between a bus and a garbage truck. While driving a bus, you really feel the frustration of trying to get the thing to accelerate and then turning is a whole new adventure, I ended up on my side down a stairwell more than a few times.
The game is broken out into 3 main formats the story mode or Working Undercover, Single race and Multiplayer. Working Undercover is where the hokey story line comes into play, I basically ignored it and turned some music on. Working Undercover is a lot like crazy taxi, where you are delivering people or things to various locations either against the clock or against a computer opponent like Magdelena in Paris, who basically trash talks you and tries to intimidate you so that you will stay out of her territory. There is a good selection of tracks and challenges in this mode, but they are all similar, so the replay ability is only established by the new cars and tracks you can unlock.
Single race mode is broken out into 3 areas, checkpoint, blitz and cruise. Checkpoint is your basic race against other CPU racers, you must clear the checkpoints in any order before your opponents. Some tracks are very easy and others are pretty difficult, depending on which car you choose. One of the tracks in DC is basically a loop around the city on the interstate, for the most part it is pretty easy, except for finding the off ramp to complete the race. It is dark and the off ramp is very small and looks like every other ramp on the course. Blitz is a race against the clock once again clearing the checkpoints. Cruise is just that cruising the city, it is a good way to learn the city and shortcuts and find some special items.
The tracks are varied but probably about half way through the various challenges I started to get bored with the selection, maybe another city would have helped.
MM3 is X-Box Live game and an impressive one at that. I was literally involved in a game of car tag, less than a minute after I plugged in my broadband cable. I unfortunately had no idea what I was doing, but this worked to my advantage since no one could find me to tag me. My connection was great and the game play was seamless I did not see a difference between my online experience and offline. There are 3 other multiplayer games available, Capture the Gold, Tag, Hunter and Stayaway. They all have the same basic theme of either hitting someone’s car who is “it”, or who has the gold or staying away from your opponents cars. I am not a big multiplayer game fan, but I can see where this would be a lot of mindless fun. My biggest problem is in trying to drive my car and look at the little inset map to see where my competition is located.
One thing I liked about the game is the variety of vehicles and what I like even better is I could look at them and see exactly what I had to accomplish to unlock them.
Pretty good if you accept that the game is not trying to look real, it has a sort of cartoon look, but not cell shaded like AutoModelista. The cities seem to be pretty accurate, but I have never been to either so I have no idea if they are truly accurate, but they do capture the essence of a city. Sidewalk cafes in Paris, the Cherry Blossoms in full bloom In DC. There are multiple playable camera angles and the in the car driver view does a good job of capturing the speed and excitement of racing through city traffic.
The French accents in the undercover mode are horrible, but intentionally so, there is nothing special about the sounds, but the comments of the main characters and the people on the street can be amusing at times, but will become tired pretty quickly. The background music is generic nothing that adds to the game. The sound adds to the over the top wacky feel of the game, honestly it works pretty well and may suit some peoples tastes, but it was just to silly for me.
I enjoyed MM3 but it did start to become a little repetitive in the single player mode, although there are lots of challenges, tracks and cars to unlock at some point you seem to be racing just to unlock the next track or particular vehicle and not because of the race. Multiplayer is another story, there is plenty of fun to be had here with your online buddies. It’s been over a month since this game came out and I had no trouble finding people online to play against, that alone is a sign of quality fun game. Give MM3 a try I don’t think you will be disappointed.