Now in broad daylight and looking very, very coolSitting down with Rockstar at Games Convention 2007 in Leipzig, I wasn’t too sure what to expect from Midnight Club: Los Angeles. I’ve played Midnight Club: Dub Edition and whilst I enjoyed it I thought it was a bit, well, generic… that’s not to say it wasn’t good, it just felt like most every other arcade racer out...
So before the demo had even started rolling, Midnight Club: Los Angeles was going to have to pull out some stops to get me enthused, especially seeing as this is day three of tramping the floor and I was knackered.
But as soon as the game had loaded I could see that Rockstar, once again, had something special on their hands because Midnight Club: Los Angeles, from what I’ve seen, looks pant wettingly gorgeous… but before I have to change my boxers, let me explain.
We started off with a scrolly-whirly view of the car we were going to drive which sat there in all its high polygon, real time reflections showroom state and it looked very, very nice. But giving the car more than cursory glance shows that the Rockstar San Diego development team have gone way overboard with a, so I’m told, 100,000 polygon count on the cars. That’s a humungous amount of detail but it’ll become clear why there’s so many polygons in each car in a little bit...
But this incredible level of detail isn’t just for the cars, it’s been taken out into the city itself too. Now anyone who’s ever been to Los Angeles will no doubt have a half decent idea of the layout of the city, which is something like the world’s 14th largest city... ok, so 14th doesn’t sound so big but when you consider that London only comes 25th on the list, you get an idea of just how big Los Angeles is and then throw in that the racing area in Midnight Club: Los Angeles is at least as big as all three previous Midnight Club game put together!
Now don’t go thinking that this is an exact replication of Los Angeles because it isn’t, the whole city is built on a grid system which, unless you like 90⁰ corners every 200 yards, would make for some fairly boring racing. So Rockstar San Diego have taken a few liberties and kinda compressed the best parts of Los Angeles in Midnight Club: Los Angeles... so you get all the major landmarks as well as some incredibly fun routes to get to them.
Now, fans of the Midnight Club series will know that one thing the games all have in common is the time you’re racing, the name ‘Midnight Club’ gives it away. Like the first few Need For Speed games, you were haring around at night. Midnight Club: Dub Edition tipped a nod to daytime with sunset and sunrises, but in Midnight Club: Los Angeles, for the first time you’ll be racing in full daylight... and dusk, dawn and night time... yep, there’s a full day/night cycle built in. So that super detailed car you’re in will be seen in all its glory as your race around the Californian sunshine.
And this daytime view let’s you see how much work has gone into Los Angeles itself as this has to be one of the most detailed renditions of the city I seen for a long time. Ok, I’m no native of Los Angeles but bloody hell, this is impressive. You find yourself not racing or even cruising past a bunch of generic shop fronts and apartments blocks, there’s so much variety here it really is mind-boggling. And it’s not just the buildings, including the recognisable landmarks, it’s the detailing on the street clutter too... this isn’t a stylised, sanitized Los Angeles, this is as close to the real thing as Rockstar San Diego could make it.