Midnight Club: Los Angeles
|Midnight Club: Los Angeles|
|Developer(s)||Rockstar San Diego,
Rockstar London (PSP)
|Mode(s)||Single-player, multiplayer (online)|
|Distribution||Blu-ray Disc, DVD, UMD|
Midnight Club: Los Angeles is the fourth video game in the Midnight Club series of racing video games. It was officially announced for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on January 11, 2008 by Rockstar Games. The game was developed by Rockstar San Diego. The game features 43 cars and 4 motorcycles. The open world map of Los Angeles is confirmed to be the size of all three cities from the previous installment combined. It has also been confirmed by several sources that each car has a polygon count of roughly 100,000. After several delays, Midnight Club: Los Angeles was released on October 20, 2008 in North America and on October 24, 2008 in the PAL region.
The game is set in the city of Los Angeles, again providing the option to completely free-roam (in an open world environment larger than all the three cities combined from the previous game, Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition). New additions are a 24 hour day-to-night cycle, weather effects and traffic with licensed vehicles, adding a realistic aspect to the game. The new dynamic weather system has been reported to alter the gameplay experience, making the vehicle more prone to sliding in the rain. After races, if any damage is inflicted upon the vehicle, the player doesn't necessarily have to drive back to the garage for a full repair, but instead can choose the "Quick Fix" option through which old, junkyard-esque parts will be added to the car. To get the nice look back, the player must actually drive back to repair their vehicle at a garage or at a gas station, so totaling the car is only possible within a single race or event. With the RAGE system being used for this game, traffic levels fluctuate throughout the day, with light traffic at night, heavy traffic in the morning and afternoon, and heaviest traffic in the evening. Motorcycles are again part of the game, including the Ducati 999R and the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14. Convertible cars, customizable interiors, in-game photo mode, and customizable exotics are all new additions. Developers placed great emphasis on the elimination of load screens, stating that the player can literally jump from career mode to an online race in under ten seconds.
Los Angeles is said to be the longest of the four Midnight Club games, with more than ten different types of races including series races, tournaments, pink slip races, and freeway races. For most races, the player must race against an opponent to the start line to earn extra rep (a leveling system used to determine the player's skill in the game) before the actual race, although this can be skipped. The races also have four different difficulties: easiest, medium, hard, and hardest. The difficulties are color-coded with green being easy, yellow being medium, orange being hard, and red being hardest. Each successive difficulty race has greater rewards than the former.
Special abilities have also been brought into the game (a returning feature from the previous installment), which include EMP, which disables the electronics of every vehicle around the player; Agro, which makes the player's vehicle indestructible giving him the ability to plow through traffic without slowing the car down; Roar, which sends out a sound wave moving traffic out of the player's way for a clear and straight path through the streets; and Zone, which slows down time and allows the player to gain a temporary boost in handling. The previous installment had restricted special abilities to certain cars, but all cars in this game can now use any one of the special abilities as chosen by the player. The abilities can also be changed in a garage at any time.
Police return but are no longer scripted to a specific race; they take notice to simple infractions in the game (running red lights, speeding, burning out, hitting their cars or nearby cars, and driving offroad). If caught, the player has the choice to pull over (which will initiate a special cutscene when the police car approaches) or lead the police into a pursuit. The game goes into "pursuit mode" after a period of time or if the police lose sight of the player; this will also happen if the player pulls off during the "pull over" cutscene. Infractions that cause it to go directly to pursuit mode include speeding and excessively damaging a police car. They will chase the player no matter where the player is and the longer the player runs from them, the higher the fine will be if the player is arrested. The player will be arrested instantly if he totals (damages out) his vehicle.
Additionally, there are sixty collectables hidden throughout Los Angeles that the player can find. They appear as yellow oil barrels with Rockstar's logo printed on them. Every ten collectables that are found will unlock one of six game modifiers (mentioned in-game as "cheat codes"), while finding half and all of the collectables will unlock achievements. However, enabling any of these special modifiers (with the exception of a modifier that unlocks an overhead view camera) will prevent the player from earning money, rep, and further career progression.
Online play supports sixteen players at once and a number of new modes will be introduced including, Keep Away where the player must hold the flag as long as he can and Stockpile in which there are numerous flags to be captured. New online power-ups mentioned include Mirror (will reflect any power-up fired at the player back to the person who fired it), Agro (will act the same as the offline special ability, increasing the players vehicle weight and enabling them to crash through other vehicles without taking damage or slowing down), and Random (gives the player a random power-up). A new aspect entitled "Rate My Ride" was also introduced, where players can go online to view, rate, sell and buy user-modified vehicles. Also there is a king for the Xbox 360 edition version of this game.  PlayStation Network trophies are also included, with a total of 46 trophies to be won.
The game includes a Race Editor features that allows the player to make tracks for online play. A fringe benefit of the mode is that it also allows free-roaming of the game map (including picking up collectables and earning various achievements) without traffic, police, damage or other gameplay interference.
Midnight Club: Los Angeles is a part of Rockstar's Social Club and includes features that track the stats of the player's driving and potentially award them with various in-game content such as hydraulics, TIS rims, and the Audi R8. In order to obtain these rewards, players must fulfill certain requirements to achieve their C-License, their B-License, and A-License. Once each license is acquired, a new reward is obtained. Players can also view their in-game "Rate My Ride" vehicle's rating, rate other player's vehicles, view their statistics and compare them with other players, view online leaderboards, and upload and share in-game photos. The Social Club also hosts online tournaments that award prizes to winning entrants.
A man from the East Coast moves to Los Angeles. The character, known only as "Player", later "Judas", takes a major role in the game. In the intro of the game, he is on the phone with the (unknown to the player at the time) Los Angeles City Champ, Booke, telling him to meet at a fast-food restaurant named Carney's Express Limited. He gives the protagonist the choice of three cars, one to pick, in the beginning of the game: a Nissan 240SX, 1983 Volkswagen Golf GTI, or Volkswagen Scirocco.
Once the player has built up enough of a reputation, they gain the ability to become Champ of the City and of each car type. The first one that is offered is becoming City Champ. At a point in the game, Karol calls telling the player about Booke being back as City Champ. Booke then tells the player to race regional opponents to see if they can race against him. After the player beats them, Booke calls saying he is impressed, and to meet him at the Standard Hotel for a race which ends up being the City Champ race vs. Booke and one of the final races on Career mode. When the player wins, the player not only becomes City Champ, but other championship races open. Once the player wins against the lesser opponents, the Champs of all five vehicle classes in the game challenge the player. The characters are Oswaldo, Julian, Lester, Pete, Marcel.
After the player become City Champ, Karol calls and has a proposition. He asks the player to get $1 million to help co-own his two garages with him for his business. In return, he lets the player have anything in the garages for free. This proposition also affects Doc's South Central garage although the game does not mention it.
After the character has completed 100% in Los Angeles in the PSP version, an unknown man somehow has reached his cell number, and calls saying that he wants to meet him at the Los Angeles International Airport on "his flight to Tokyo", which causes the character to say, "You talking about the Mid Night Club?" After the call, the Tokyo career and map can be accessed in Midnight Club: L.A. Remix.
The game is compacted and is not a street-accurate depiction of Los Angeles, though it features many of Los Angeles' landmarks, including:
Development and marketing
Updates and expansions
Since its release the game has had multiple updates and downloadable content releases. The first update released on December 9, 2008 included improved AI balance to better adjust to players skill level, the cops are improved, and the Xbox 360 got additional leaderboard support for tournaments on Rockstar Social Club. Also part of the update was an additional online game mode called "Modes", where the user could choose to go to a lobby to play various race and flag modes instead of just one specific mode, aside from cruise mode.
The most recent update is entitled the "South Central Upgrade And Content Pack", and it includes a whole new area of the map, South Central Los Angeles, about a third of the size of the current map, for free. Players are also able to purchase the pack which includes new character competitions, races, music and cars available in a single complete package. New vehicles include various cars and, for the first time in the game, SUVs. The content was originally scheduled to release on March 12, but delayed to March 19 with no comment from Rockstar. Problems occurred on March 19, when trying to release it on Xbox Live and delayed for a second time. It was also stated that additional car packs will be released in the future, but on March 27 Rockstar accidentally put the vehicle packs on Xbox Live. They were removed from the Xbox Live Marketplace later that day and anybody who was downloading it at that time was asked to stop.
On January 14, 2009, the content pack was accidentally released on the Xbox Live Marketplace during its testing and approval phase by Microsoft. It was then removed and anyone who was able to obtain it was asked to delete it because it may cause unforeseen problems with achievements and save data, according to a Xbox Live Marketplace staff member. On March 23, there was an event posting on Xbox Live Events for Midnight Club: Los Angeles South Central scheduled for March 29, but later that day it was removed from the events section. Rockstar then put a new post up on the Midnight Club: Los Angeles website on March 30 saying that the event was to be on April 4. On March 27, both the South Central Expansion and Premium Pack were released on the Xbox Live Marketplace for download. On April 23, the second vehicle pack was released on Xbox Live and PSN which included four new vehicles: the 2008 Cadillac XLR V, the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X and an extra motorcycle (the new fastest one available in the game), the 2008 Ducati 1098R. An area of particular interest is a phone message the player receives if all cars, including the downloadable cars, have been acquired. The message says "more high performance cars coming soon". This message can be displayed when a player continually enters and exits any garage.
On October 10, Rockstar released a free "police car pack" on Xbox Live. This gives the players the ability to race using 5 different types of police vehicles from Chevrolet and Dodge, with paint schemes from the Los Angeles Police Department, California Highway Patrol, and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, and gives players the ability to avoid the police while cruising or racing. The police will pursue the player if they are caught street racing. However, if the player turns on the siren while street racing, the police won't pursue the player, most likely because they believe the player is a fellow officer, hunting down the other street racers. On October 22, the police car pack was released on the PlayStation Network.
Rockstar Games released the Midnight Club: Los Angeles - Complete Edition as a PlayStation 3 Greatest Hits/Platinum Range title and a Xbox 360 Platinum Hit/Classics title. It was released on October 12, 2009. The Complete Edition features all of the map, vehicles, and music from the original Midnight Club: Los Angeles and all of the previously available downloadable content on the disc to make up for lost progress, thus saving the player from starting all over again. The following features were added in Complete Edition:
- Core game
- Map Expansion of South Central, adding 33% to the original map
- Premium Upgrade Pack
- Vehicle Pack #1
- Vehicle Pack #2
- Police Car Pack
Midnight Club: L.A. Remix
Midnight Club: L.A. Remix is a portable version of Midnight Club: Los Angeles, which was announced by Rockstar Games on April 21, 2008 for PlayStation Portable. The game was released on October 21, 2008 in North America and on October 24, 2008 in the PAL region. The game features only a portion of Los Angeles, using the same map from Midnight Club II. Making up for this, the game features another playable city, Tokyo, which uses the same map from Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition Remix. Unlike the console version, the police do not chase the player in "Cruise" mode. However, the player can get caught after running from the police for a long period of time, and eventually getting boxed in, and getting no fine. Also unlike the console version, Midnight Club: L.A. Remix does not feature cutscenes. Also,the cars in the game have been split up meaning that one half of the cars can be used in Los Angeles while the other half can be used in Tokyo, the bikes aren't split as all three can be used in Los Angeles and Tokyo.
Midnight Club: Los Angeles received very positive reviews from critics. Most reviews praise the game's detailed depiction of Los Angeles, great amount of depth and multiplayer options, consistent frame-rate, stylish presentation, and varied soundtrack. The areas that were criticized included the clichéd characters, slow texture loading when players start up the game and unbalanced difficulty.
Game Informer magazine editor Matt Helgeson gave it a 9/10, praising the game by saying "Midnight Club: Los Angeles is just what the doctor ordered: a fun, fast racing experience with enough content to keep you playing for months." They also praised the virtual recreation of the map of Los Angeles by saying, "The cityscape is amazing. The level of detail and the sheer amount of roadway to tear up seems limitless..." Editor Andrew Reiner in his Second Opinion also gave it a 9/10 saying, "In Midnight Club: Los Angeles, developer Rockstar San Diego transforms the bumper-to-bumper crawl of Los Angeles' street life into a roaring blur of rubber and metal, making this unlikely venue for one of video games' most enjoyable circuits."
IGN gave it 8.5/10 and an Editor's Choice Award by saying, "Midnight Club: Los Angeles is a great racing experience with a few mars on its paint job. The cars handle fantastically, the city is nearly perfect, the GPS stuff is awesome and customizing your ride is great." They also address the difficulty by saying, "...but don't expect an easy time on the streets."
GameSpy gave the game a 4.5/5 and an Editor's Choice Award, praising the game by saying, "The original open-world street racer leaves the competition in the dust." They also said, "And speed is the name of the game. MCLA's sense of velocity is breathtaking. The graphics are practically photorealistic..." They also addressed the difficulty by saying, "Single-player learning curve can be a bit steep." In conclusion they said, "...there's much more than enough game here to justify the price tag. If you invest the time in tricking out your ride and mastering the more challenging difficulty levels, you'll be rewarded with an adrenaline rush that you won't find anywhere else."
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