Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition – PS2 – Review

It’s midnight in the
streets of San Diego and you’re driving down a near empty street when a shiny
black Nissan pulls up beside your sleek ride.  The Nissan’s engines sound like
the low growl of a panther ready to strike down its prey and its owner’s eyes
meets yours and you just know.  As easy as you can spot a toupee you know he
belongs to the same club as you . . . the same club that meets in the far corner
of an empty lot.  The other driver nods his head–the challenge is made–and
without a moments notice you find yourself slamming your foot down on the gas
pedal.  It’s on and losing is not an option because your reputation is at
stake.  This is the world you’ll encounter in Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition
and one fans of the series will not want to leave the very second you start
the first race.



Rockstar San Diego’s third
outing of its illegal racing series continues bringing us all the things that
revolve around this dangerous but interesting scene but thanks to input from DUB
Magazine the series has now given us a huge dose of import tuning.  The result
is a game that outshines the excellent Midnight Club 2 as well as its
competitors and that’s not an easy thing to do since EA’s street racing game
wasn’t bad at all.  Still, the Midnight Club games do a great job of
showing us this interesting world while offering arcade-styled racing and this
one isn’t any different.


For starters, the game’s
main Career mode might not be big on story but then again it wasn’t story that
made hardcore fans out of gamers in the second game of the series.  Here you
play a faceless, nameless illegal racing enthusiast in San Diego who finds
himself stepping foot in the Six-One-Nine Custom shop run by a mechanic that
installs tuner parts for the mere love of just being next to a car.  It is here
that you’re asked to purchase your first car; although the selection is limited
to six cars at first (the choices include a ‘64 Chevy Impala to a recent
Mitsubishi Eclipse).  Once you’ve selected your car, you can head off to your
first race and then you can cruise around looking for races.  It’s accepting
races that you earn your money to customize your car’s appearance or
performance.  Winning races unlocks new cars and this time there are loads of
great licensed cars like classic muscle cars, SUVs, modern vehicles and racing
motorcycles make their return.  You start in San Diego and work your way to
Detroit and Atlanta.


It is in this lengthy
Career mode that you earn money to customize your vehicle with performance
parts, bodywork and other details.  By competing in circuit races found in areas
on the map, you can earn lots of money.  Yet it’s competing in club races or
accepting a challenge from a respected street racer that you earn performance
parts, unlock new custom details and even win new cars.  Import tuning fans can
head back to the Six-One-Nine shop and upgrade everything from new front
bumpers, add spoilers or install new hub caps if you wish.  There are hundreds
of options but if you’re interested in keeping up with the skilled boys and
girls out there you’ll be upgrading engine parts, hydraulics and adding
nitrous.  In short, everything that you can possibly want in imports can be
found here.



Making its return again is
Arcade mode filled with game modes such as Autocross, Track, Capture the Flag,
Frenzy, Circuit, Ordered, Tag and Cruise.  The modes are pure arcade-styled
races with a few of them bringing back the power-up items.  Each mode offers
various different unique slants; for example, you can play a classic game of
Capture the Flag or you can play using the Split or Basewar settings.  Included
again is the Race Editor that allows you to design your own race course complete
with start and finish points.


How does it play, you
might ask? 
Midnight Club 3
feels right at home on the PS2 and even
more so now that the controls have been tightened.  Each car handles differently
but the basic control scheme allows gamers to experience the new moves such as
the somewhat baffling two wheel Dukes of Hazard-styled driving or
Roar–in which your car’s engine makes itself loudly clear that other cars just
swerve out of your way.  The motorcycles have the weight transfer shift using
the L1 button but even that doesn’t stop you from flying off your speed bike
like a human missile.  Still it’s great to pull off stoppies on your bike and
the addition of choppers makes cruising down the streets of Detroit downright


Multiplayer is still very
much emphasized seeing as
Club 2
became something of a fan
favorite online.  It had its share of problems even with the Broadband
connection but many of the game’s framerate stutters and the occasional lost
connections have been remedied greatly in this one.  It’s smooth as a baby’s
bottom and with up to eight players it’s downright fun.  The plentiful modes is
what makes this one a multiplayer treat with all the arcade modes available
including cruise but its games like Paint and Capture the Flag that will be fan
favorites.  There are also neat new features that keep the race running even if
for some reason the host somehow drops out of a race in progress and you can
also join a clan with a neat ranking order.  My biggest gripe, though, is the
fact that the game doesn’t support a USB headset so there’s no chat in this


Visually speaking, this is
not a good-looking game on the PS2 but then again it is not an amazing one
either.  The pedestrians still look blockish and unnatural and watching them
whiz away on the nick of time is hilarious.  Still when it comes to the cars the
game does a great job of displaying plenty of detail for each individual
licensed vehicle.  In motion the cars show off superb motion blur and they even
take damage.  The environments are massive and great to look at since the
details are certainly plentiful.  Still it’s hard to knock a game that fills the
streets with traffic and other small environmental details.



The sound, on the other
hand, is excellent and really pushes the engine sound of all vehicles so a
Hummer sounds different from a VW Jetta.  Slam your car into a lamppost and
listen to the loud clank of the post hitting the pavement and the crunch of your
front bumper.  There’s voice acting to be found in this game and once again it
hits on the usual racial stereotypes of the last game although this time not to
an exaggerated degree.  As for the game’s tunes, it’s a massive song list that
includes hip hop from artists like Fat Joe, hard-hitting tunes from Queens of
the Stone Age and loads of electronica from artists like Calyx.  It’s okay stuff
that wouldn’t cut it in other racing game but it somehow works beautifully in
this game.   


Outshining many of the
street racing games already out there, Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition is
pure racing joy for those who like their import tuning and midnight street
racing done to perfection.  As a fan of the second game, it was hard to imagine
the series getting much better than this but with so much added to the game’s
addictive racing will surely make some new fans with this one.  Go out and buy
this one, you won’t regret it. 


Scoring Details for

Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition


Gameplay: 9.0
Solid controls and a steady
framerate make for a racing game that feels good on the PS2.  The game’s second
outing was nothing to sneeze at but this one has improved its controls to make
for one addictive racing game.  The import tuning offers loads of customization
options that will surely thrill fans.


Graphics: 8.2
This is one good-looking game on the
PS2 but the pedestrians still look very odd up close.  Still–and most
importantly–the rides look hot and the environments are massive and nicely
detailed.  The speed effects look amazing this time around.


Sound: 8.9

The engine sounds are loud
and they vary from car to car but it’s the sound of the streets and the traffic
that give you the feeling that you’re speeding through a living, breathing
world.  The soundtrack is an eclectic mix of tunes that are okay if you’re big
on dance club techno music (not my cup of tea) or hip hop.  As for the voice
acting, it’s just average.


Difficulty: Medium
The wide open streets make for some
challenging races but it’s your opponents that will have you keeping an eye on
traffic, turns and your objective.  Racing motorcycles is also not as easy as it
looks and you’ll often find yourself being tossed off your bike.


Concept: 9.5
So many cars and they can all be
upgraded with performance parts and you can custom detail it to your heart’s
desire.  With so many customizable choices you’ll have your own unique rides. 
Motorcycles are again a welcome addition and so are the various arcade modes
like Capture the Flag.  Add online play and you’ll think you’ve died and gone to
gaming heaven.


Multiplayer: 9.0
Aside from a very addictive
single-player career mode, this one has a solid multiplayer mode that can be
taken online.  It runs at a steady framerate online using a broadband connection
but there’s no headset communicator support like the Xbox.  That means you can
only keep the trash talk to yourself and that’s no fun.  Still, this is one game
you should share with friends.


Overall: 9.3
We’ve seen importing tuner games and
we’ve seen illegal racing games but not at the addictive and exquisitely
detailed level of
Midnight Club 3
It roars and it looks and feels so darn good at the same time so if you’re like
me and love an arcade-styled racing game that plays like a dream on the PS2 then
you should definitely buy this one.