The Midnight Club series is one that over the years has managed to carve its own niche within the ever popular street racing category. From its humble beginnings as a pioneer for open world racing games, Midnight Club separated itself by not only giving gamers an open world to cruise in, but also offering the option to take any path of your wishing to complete the race. Gamers have come to expect a quality arcade street racer on any title bearing the Midnight Club name. Midnight Club: Los Angeles not only meets expectations, but it exceeds them by offering gamers a true next gen experience with stunning graphics, a realistic and believable free flowing world to cruise in, some of the best vehicle customization options to date and an online model with a great concept that offers an experience unique to this game series.
From the moment Midnight Club first loads you will be awe struck with how excellent the city of LA looks. Using the Rage engine of GTA 4, Rockstar San Diego managed to create a world that looks great no matter the time of day or weather. The action never slows even when racing at high speeds and the pop up issues that plagued the Rage engine in GTA 4 don't seem to be present in Midnight Club:LA. Particle effects such as smoke, grass and dirt all look great and the game features the typical but appreciated blur effect when nitro is used. As previously mentioned in brief, the game features a day night cycle and a dynamic weather system including fog, rain and storms that assist in giving this virtual LA life. This virtual LA even has people roaming the streets going about their daily business, but before some of you get excited, no you cannot run over or kill people, after all this is a PG rated game.
If you were to compare the world of Midnight Club: LA to Google maps you would see that it is similar but not 100% accurate to the city of LA. This is because it is an artists rendition that has received modifications, allowing intuitive racing on one of the best designed maps in an open world racer. These modifications add to the experience ensuring a straight forward city that is not a maze to navigate. To view the map at any stage of the game it's as simple as pressing the select button at which time the map will zoom out to a satellite view. From this view you can zoom in or out and navigate the map as you wish. As you cruise around the map, should you have been to LA you will discover Rockstar included many landmarks such as the Santa Monica Pier and even the Hollywood sign. Other more common sites around the maps will be real stores such as Pizza Hut and 7-Eleven. Other stores are no longer boring 2D artistry as stores have been treated with 3D art and it really adds to the experience when you have the chance to appreciate the map and what it has to offer. The map of LA really needs to be driven in its entirety at both day and night to be fully appreciated. The city looks just as great during the day as it does at night. During the day you will appreciate the sun rising over the horizon before setting. As the day turns to night you will notice your surroundings light up with neon lights, billboard spotlights and of course many streetlights. An excellent choice by Rockstar San Diego was to have the full map of LA accessible from the start of the game so you wont be running into any invisible or transparent walls as you would in some other street racing games.