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Midnight Club III: DUB Edition
game: Midnight Club III: DUB Edition
four star
posted by: Chris Martin
publisher: Rockstar
developer: Rockstar San Diego
ESRB rating: T (Teen)
date posted: 12:00 AM Wed May 11th, 2005
last revision: 12:00 AM Wed May 11th, 2005

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Click to read.I have to hand it to them; the fellows at Rockstar really know games.  They know how to make them marketable, playable, and fun.  They've consistently had bestselling titles with the likes of Grand Theft Auto, the darkly edged Max Payne, and Manhunt.  There have been two previous editions of Midnight Club, but they've finally gotten the formula right in DUB Edition.  Midnight Club III: DUB Edition can be put right next to Rockstar's best as it's not only a great game but the best of its kind.

The first thing you'll notice after booting up DUB Edition is the presentation.  This game is about as slick as games are going to get.  Select career mode and you'll be The first thing you'll notice after booting up DUB Edition is the presentation.  This game transported to your home base of sorts in San Diego, to Oscar's garage.  The load times are somewhat long, but they play some decent music in the interim.  There you'll buy your first ride, add a few upgrades, and learn about the rules of the road.  The second thing you notice is that the music doesn't suck.  In fact, DUB's soundtrack finally captures the feel of the street racing scene - hard rap beats, thumping techno, and some decent alternative music.  It is the first soundtrack in a racing game that I didn't turn off, opting for my own rebellious youth-music.  A few minutes into the game and you'll understand why they called it DUB Edition? - though this is the only edition.  

A few minutes in Oscar's garage and you'll see that the many parts and superficial additions make DUB Edition insanely customizable.  It's not on the customizable lines of Microsoft's Forza Motorsport, but it gets the job done, and you'll likely find enough decals and logos to have your own unique ride.

The thing that DUB Edition does better than Need For Speed Underground 2 is the gameplay.  You'll drive around one of the three cities looking for races, learning the road, or searching for the 12 Rockstar icons hidden throughout the city.  The game offers standard circuit races, but also point-to-point and hot-lap style races as well.  There's enough variety in the racing so you won't be bored.  I found that the point-to-point races to be the most enjoyable, but you're preference might vary.  Similar to the previous iteration of the series, there is some trial-and-error style racing to find the best course through the city, so expect to race most of the courses more than once.  The difficulty is nicely varied this time around, so you won't end up redoing one ultra-hard race hundreds of times.  The grade of difficulty is about the same as the upgrades you have for your vehicle, so technically, if you have the best upgrades (a decent ride notwithstanding), you should be able to keep up with the others.  A lot of care was taken to keep each course through the three cities jam-packed with shortcuts.  You'll have the through the alleyway? shortcut and the through the mall? shortcut,? but oftentimes there is no set way to get to the next checkpoint, so experimenting (or just getting lucky) helps get the win.

Placing first usually nets you some cool upgrades like new rims, engine parts, or a new ride.  If nothing you get money to blow.  DUB Edition keeps you pretty stocked with money so players who find their hard earned bucks spend on making their Excursion pretty, need not worry.  When you first get your car (I bought a VW Golf, for example) it's better to buy the performance upgrades so you can keep up with the competition, but I spent hours getting the look of my ride right.  The game is as addicting off the street as it is on.

The game itself is as arcadey as they come, but still there's enough strategy on the road to make it more than just that.  While racing, DUB Edition adds a number of powers depending on the type of car you drive.  The powers from MC2 - air-control, slip-stream turbo, two-wheel driving, and weight transfer - all return right off the bat, so alum of Midnight Club II don't need to earn them again.  The new powers, Agro, Zone, and Roar, make the timely press of a button incredibly important.  Agro makes SUVs and Luxury sedans invincible for a limited amount of time.  Zone slows time for imports and exotics.  And Roar makes choppers and muscle cars roar? causing nearby cars to lose control.  These abilities just rock (especially Zone) and give the game a type of strategy uncommon in many racing games.

On the road, the game looks good but just barely makes standard.  The cars are nicely detailed, sharp, and shiny.  When you use your boost, the game reminds one of Burnout 3, but it doesn't achieve the same smoothness and sense of speed.  That said, the game is fast, and simply beats every other street-racing game in speed hands down.  The game runs at 30 fps, but there are times when it slows down (usually when boosting or jumping).  If problems like this turn you off, don't worry, because even though there's slowdown here and there, the game manages to run smoothly nearly 90% of the time.

The single player game is a good 20 hours of gameplay (or more if you spend time getting all the extras).  But once you're done with that, or just want a momentary indulgence, take this sucker online and show off your skills.  The game supports up to eight players via LAN or over the internet.  The internet games I played were all lag free, which is a godsend, and the options are literally staggering.  There's normal race (point-to-point, circuit, cruise, ordered, unordered) and more exotic modes such as CTF (capture the flag), Track, Tag, and Basewar.  On top of this, you can even create clubs - think clans - and get a bunch of friends to race with.  If you've been looking for an online game to keep your attention with a myriad of options, this is that game.  There are literally hundreds of options available online.

While I'm praising the game for what it does right, I might as well add that the voice acting and special effects in game are great.  From your gear-head friend Oscar to the other interesting characters you'll meet (luckily, they're not the silly caricatures from MC2) the voice acting is very good.

The downsides are minor at best, yet detract from the gameplay at times.  The races can be strangely against you at all times.  It seems that the game places cars in your vector purposely to screw you up (like in blind corners).  At first I thought I was being paranoid, but it seems consistent throughout.  On top of that the AI drivers can be rather vicious, and even though that's not necessarily bad, they like to bump you into walls which can quickly suspend any victory cheers - it gets annoying after the fiftieth time.  There is also a huge rubber-band handicap for both the computer and the player.  This becomes irritating if you genuinely have a faster car than your opponents, though becomes a matter of playing catch-up if you don't.  Having this handicap makes what car you own less important, but makes the competition unnecessarily slanted.  If I'm obviously ahead I want to stay ahead, but, try as I might, there would always be an unfriendly car at my heels waiting to slam me into a wall.  There are minor graphical glitches; textures will pop in and go from low-res to high-res.  Though the game offers a decent draw-distance, if you hit a really big jump, you will quickly see the limits of that - not to mention a hefty amount of slowdown.

Racing is what Midnight Club III: DUB Edition does best.  Add in all the licensed tuner parts and accessories and you've got one insanely addictive game.  I greatly recommend this game to all tuner and/or arcade racing fans.  Not only will it appeal to your love of cars, but it will appeal to your need for good cityscape destruction.

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