Rockstar seems to have a wonderful penchant for making games that stray on the wrong side of the law. MIDNIGHT CLUB II is the latest in the series of lawbreaking games, and the sequel to the popular street racer. Gamers can race around virtual cities that are recreated with wonderful detail on a plethora of vehicles, what more could you ask for?
The main selling point of MIDNIGHT CLUB II is the career mode. As you drive around the cities, you race people and win cars and motorcycles, eventually building up quite the collection of vehicles to race with. The game kicks itself off in Los Angeles and eventually moves on to Tokyo and Paris, each city is a lot of fun to just drive around in and look at all the detail Rockstar put into each element.
The races are checkpoint based; you're given a map and a CRAZY TAXI-esque arrow to point you in the direction of the next checkpoint. As in some CRAZY TAXI levels, the arrow is completely and totally worthless. Half the time while you are playing the game, you will spend more attention to the arrow than the actual course. It shows how little of the game actually has to do with paying attention to the road and driving skill, rather the best shortcut to take.
MIDNIGHT CLUB II is filled with shortcuts, ramps, and unrealistic physics. You'll keep the pedal to the metal most of the time, hitting some massive air, whipping around corners like you're invincible and generally doing stuff that you shouldn't be able to. It's not supposed to be a simulator, but the game has very little semblance of reality at all, which is a shame.
The other game modes are secondary to the career mode and depend much on you winning some cool cars. The online mode of the game is a great addition though. While it's essentially the arcade mode it does allow you to race with up to seven human opponents. This is a far cry above the level of the computer AI. The only drawback to the online is that you must have a broadband connection to play; dial-up users need not apply.
The gameplay is pretty solid online, and there are additional power-ups you can use to cause some fun side effects for your opponents to deal with. But playing the game is just about all you'll do online due to the fact that there are not many other options. Still, the online mode is more than enough to keep you playing.
The graphics attempt to convey a gritty realistic look (similar to many Rockstar games) and it's pulled off fairly well. The buildings and cars look good, and the only real effect I didn't care for was the headlights. One of the first things I noticed was how odd they looked. Other than that, the game looks very good.
Sound wise, the soundtrack is decent, but it didn't do a lot for me. The sound effects are good and there is also quite a bit of voice acting that is done over the radio, most of it is good and done well. The sound falls into the category of doing the job, but not much more.
MIDNIGHT CLUB II will be a treat for fans of the original, but it won't blow you away in any particular aspect. It's worth giving a try at least, especially if you liked the first.