Rockstar continues their fascination with the criminal elements of society by delivering up a game about illegal street racing. Offering up three large cities, a suite of fast cars and an arcade sensibility, Midnight Club II is a game that starts fast and never lets up. You’ll take on a number of street racers, pitting your skills against theirs in a winner-take-pink-slip affair. As you progress through the game you’ll unlock more cars, more tracks and more special moves.
Midnight Club II is one of the fastest racers around. The game sells the sensation of speed with detailed road textures and a slightly relaxed crash model. As you tear down the streets, you’ll find that small collisions don’t really get in the way of winning (as long as you can keep you car heading in the right direction, of course) and you can really beat the crap out of these machines before you’ll have to respawn in a new car.
In terms of cars, you simply won’t see the same degree of variety that’s apparent in titles like Midtown Madness or Vice City. All of the cars here are designed for high-speed action, so you won’t get the fire trucks, minis or taxi cabs you find in those other games. The cars that are included here have a phenomenal grip on the road that still manages to convey a powerful sense of mass in the powerslides.
Weight transference is much more a regular part of motorcycle racing. Shifting your weight to the left or right results in tight turns (much more so when a little E-brake is applied) and shifting it forward or backwards results in either a head-down streamlining or a wheelie. It’s even possible to do an endo on the bikes but, apart from sticking your landings, shifting your weight to the front or rear of the bike doesn’t have many straight gameplay applications. (I found the slight camera shift that occurs when you shift your weight takes a while to get used to.)
The only real strikes against this title are those that are inherent in the design. While I’d love to see some of the levels in the daytime or have access to a wider range of cars, that’s simply not what Midnight Club 2 is about. If you like arcade racing (or just like good games, regardless of genre) then Midnight Club II is definitely for you.