Originally released for the PC back in 1999, MIDTOWN MADNESS offered checkpoint style racing in huge, open cities that were modeled after the real-life ones. While the first two games were developed by Angel Studios, who recently developed MIDNIGHT CLUB for Rockstar, the third game is now an Xbox exclusive and was developed by Digital Illusions. While the developer has changed, the game has not and any racing game fan should add this to their collection of racing games.
In MIDTOWN MADNESS 3, you are given two complete cities to work with: Paris and Washington DC. While you can choose to play in either city right from the beginning, I suggest you go straight to Paris; the city is laid out in an easier fashion and is more straightforward than DC. No matter what, though, each city offers the same thing to gamers.
There are a couple of different single player modes that MIDTOWN MADNESS 3 presents to gamers: you can cruise the streets in a meaningless manner, participate in checkpoint races against the computer or race against time. But the main mode in the game is the undercover mode, which is the basic story mode of the game. Basically, you are taking random car-related jobs to get to the bottom of a crime, with each job putting you in different vehicles. While I'm glad to see some sort of storyline put into a racing game, the story is very thin and is obviously there just for story's sake. Also, the voice acting during the story is pretty bad.
Gameplay wise, MIDTOWN MADNESS 3 wasn't made to teach a youngster to drive; most of the real-life physics have been thrown out the window for a more "fun" gameplay style. You can whip your car around any car with relative easy, and cars will basically fly out of the way if you run into them. I don't think that wreck I saw on the interstate today looked anything like that. Anything you see on the streets, you can crash into and break. Light posts, trash cans, and barricades will all be just obstacles in your way, although for some reason your car will pass right through a tree. Go figure.
While MIDTOWN MADNESS 3 is a pretty fun single player game, the game mainly focuses on the online aspects of the game. The games multiplayer modes are more configurable and much more exciting than the single player modes. There are a lot of cool multiplayer missions, including Hunter, where one player is a cop and must smash into the other players; but when you are hit by the cop, you turn into the cop and must continue. Whoever is the last person to get hit by the cop car wins. The cool thing about the online mode is that you can join games already in progress.
MIDTOWN MADNESS 3 is a good looking game, with DC and Paris both looking pretty realistic. The maps are huge, and while the monuments in each city are extremely detailed and recognizable, some of the other buildings look kind of plain. The game has a smooth framerate, and my only complaint is that the game's high speeds seem a bit slow at times.
The music is bad and the voice acting is worse. Luckily for us, the option for a custom soundtrack was added in, overriding the bad soundtrack for me.
MIDTOWN MADNESS 3 is, in reality, more of an online game than a single-player game. While the single-player modes offer some fun, you'll find yourself bored with them after a while. But, if you're a racing fan, this is probably one of the reasons to get an Xbox and Xbox Live.