Let's race!But enough on the graphics, as damn fine as they may be, how does Midnight Club: Los Angeles actually play? For starters, the whole city is open from the off, so none of these invisible barriers or blocked roads that we’ve seen in other racers...you can roll out into the game world, turn your ICE to max and hang your digital arm out the window and go cruising all over right from the start.
So there we were, cruising in our faithfully modelled Lamborghini Gallardo Roadster and we spot another racer. (Opposing racers stand out in that they too are in the hottest cars, unlike the more generic town cars and sedans Americans favour so much). Give him a quick flash of the headlights and, if he accepts the challenge, we’re whisked off to the start line.
Midnight Club: Los Angeles is all about a smooth and seamless experience and just starting a race is impressive as the camera view swoops out from behind the car spiralling up to a massive birds-eye view of the city with your waypoints marked for the race. The city below is still rendered in 3D though, which becomes apparent as the camera does a cracking, twisting swallow dive like an F16 pilot on speed, zooming back in to the selected car view for the start of the race. Oh, did I mention that for the first time you have a driver’s view of the car, in the cockpit? No, well you do and it’s actually a practical view too, meaning you can use it for racing rather than just for looking cool showing the game off to your mates.
But enough of this.. let’s race.
Ok, now if all you’ve read so far hasn’t gotten you excited over Midnight Club: Los Angeles, then forget all that and just concentrate on the next few paragraphs because what I experienced with Rockstar was probably the most exhilarating racing short of actually doing it myself for real.
You remember that Robert De Niro film, Ronin? Remember those fantastic car chases, especially the one through Paris in heavy traffic? That’s what racing in Midnight Club: Los Angeles is like... it’s true cinematic style arcade racing which had my adrenaline pumping even though it was just a video game.
It’s hard to describe but the camera, if you’re viewing from the chase camera behind the car, stays fairly central to the track whilst you drift, skid and slide all across the screen. I have to say it’s bloody superb and so well implemented, even in this early stage of the game, that it gives you the impression of actually driving in a movie chase scene. Suddenly, every chase scene from Bullit and The French Connection through to Gone in 60 Seconds and The Fast and The Furious all comes together in one incredible racing feel in Midnight Club: Los Angeles... and honestly, it really is that good.