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Midnight Club II
Score: 88%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Angel Studios
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2 (2 - 8 online)
Genre: Racing

Graphics & Sound:
Step into the life of an illegal street racer with Midnight Club II. Drive by the bright lights from the big cities of Los Angeles, Paris, and Tokyo. Granted, things can get a little blurry when you're driving in excess of 100 miles per hour, but nonetheless, things are looking good for the racing sequel. Feel free to run over or through objects like street lamps, panes of glass, or even pedestrians. Each vehicle offered in this racer has an attitude of its own, generally to go along with each racer you face.

Speaking of the racers, they are all very colorful and unique, although their trash talking leaves something to be desired. Mainly, all the characters in Midnight Club II have three one-liners, so you're constantly hearing the same dig over and over again. However, the different techno music fits perfectly for each race, and because there are so many songs, it's more difficult to lose interest in the soundtrack. Something that's not lost either are the sound effects, which include different sirens from the cops, big and even bigger explosions, and plenty of tire squealing and motor revving to satisfy the gear head in all of us.

For those of you who don't know, Midnight Club II has the look and feel of the movie "The Fast and the Furious." Basically, you start your illegal racing career in Los Angeles, where you must find other street racers, and beat them at their own game to win their cars and earn their respect. With this latest version of Midnight Club, you can win up to 28 different souped-up vehicles, with motorcycles being offered for the first time. Like other racing games, your wheels differentiate between the variables like speed, maneuvering, and so on. Some cars are better suited for some races than others. The good news is when you lose a race, the only thing hurt is your pride. You just keep trying and trying until you do win. Believe me, you'll need those extra races just to find the hidden underground tunnels and shortcut ramps.

If you'd like to test the waters before heading into the Career mode, you can play through a couple of Arcade modes: Cruise and Circuit Races. Cruise allows you to familiarize yourself with the cars and areas you've unlocked. Circuit Races is just how it sounds; you race around the town for a few laps. You can also play some Battle modes with your friends, like Capture the Flag and Detonate. And for the true racing geek, Race Editor is offered, so you can customize your own course. You can also play all of the modes besides Career online. A helpful hint is to unlock as much as you can before heading online.

You can't change the level of difficulty in Midnight Club II, but things do get harder as the game passes on. Obviously, the better the car you win, the easier it is to handle. However, races will get more challenging throughout the game, where you'll be forced to know the streets like the back of your hand. As previously mentioned, even if you fail to win the race right away, try and try again.

Game Mechanics:
The controller configuration fits the hand almost perfectly. It may take a little time getting used to, but that depends on each user. The loading time is minimal, and your memory card won't be bogged down at all. When going online to network play, things work just as well. The loading time barely exists, and I experienced no lag from my opponents.

Even if you do complete every race in Midnight Club II, which will take forever, you can still face off against online gamers until your heart's content. So if you're a racing gamer, or just want to get geared before heading to see "2 Fast 2 Furious," Midnight Club II is the game for you.

-Red Dawg, GameVortex Communications
AKA Alex Redmann

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