I have to admit that when Midnight
Club 3: Dub Edition was yet to be released on the major consoles, the whispers
of a PSP version had me very excited. Having seen what our sleek portable gaming
machine is capable of I was confident Rockstar would bring all the elements we
love about the series because, hey, sometimes a girl has to get her illegal
racing and import tuning fix somehow. The rumors were true and now Midnight Club
3: DUB Edition for the PSP is here so let’s go for a ride.
The first thing you’ll notice after
you’ve slipped the UMV into your handheld gaming machine and the opening
sequence eventually loads is that it looks like the console version. The menu
screen delivers the same game modes such as Career (the game’s main story mode)
and Arcade mode (with ten different arcade-styled game modes). There’s even
wireless multiplayer options to play this game with up to six other friends
using Ad Hoc. In short, this is pretty much a port faithful to the PS2 console
version with some tasty fat cut out.
Career Mode starts you off with enough money to purchase any of the six starter
cars that range from a sleek Mitsubishi Eclipse to an old-school classic like a
‘64 Chevy Impala in San Diego’s finest performance shop Six-Nine-Six. After
testing your skills behind the wheel in your first illegal street race, you find
yourself deeply immersed in this sub-culture and challenged by known street
racers and underground race clubs. The more challenges you accept the more money
you earn to modify your ride or purchase far more exotic rides that range from
the new to the classics to roaring choppers. You can even win new rides by
racing in certain races (this is how you get your first motorcycle, actually).
It’s surprising how much of the console version can be found here but it also
becomes somewhat evident, especially to those who own a PS2 or Xbox copy, that
some small features have been left out. Aside from pedestrian traffic, the sense
of speed is somewhat missing. Yet what becomes evident the second you start
picking your first car or accepting your first race are the load times. The load
times in this game are lengthy affairs … lengthy, as in you’ll watch the
screen dim after a minute of inactivity. I clocked one load time at two minutes!
I’m willing to sacrifice a minute or two for quality and decent gameplay but the
fact that the load times pop up frequently will get on your nerves pretty
On the other hand, what the game gets right is pure gold. The import tuning from
the big boys is completely intact so you can be as creative with your
modifications and bodywork. It’s fun to trick out your ride anyway you want and
there’s enough goodies to unlock to give you plenty of options. The races
themselves are handled just as great and seeing as this is more an arcade-styled
racing game than a strict racing simulator they’re fast and furious and mighty
fun. There are eight specialty moves you can unlock such as two-wheel driving to
Agro (a move that allows you to plow through traffic like a tank). Best of all,
all three cities (San Diego, Atlanta and Detroit) feature all the same
side-streets, alleys and shortcuts found in the console version so there’s a lot
to see if you decide to cruise around the city.
Control-wise, the game runs into a
little problem that’s directed at the analog control as well as some button
issues. Not as responsive as it should be, the analog control makes for some
slightly awkward turns and maneuvering but it is still responsive enough that
you won’t find yourself cursing the controls for making you lose a race. I found
the more I played the game the more I got the hang of the control scheme and,
thankfully, Rockstar was smart enough to include the option to change the
controls to your liking.
When you’re not busy with the Career Mode races there’s the Arcade Mode, which
includes a nice number of arcade racing modes. Aside from the usual Circuit,
Track, Ordered or Unordered races there’s Capture the Flag, Tag, Paint,
Autocross and Frenzy. The wildest modes like Tag, Paint and Capture the Flag are
the most fun and with plenty of Power Up items scattered throughout the streets
there’s fun backstabbing to be had. For example, Capture the Flag has you
attempting to take a flag from its spawn point and deliver it to a drop-off
point. Occasionally other racers will beat you to the flag so making use of a
Power Up such as Ice will make drivers skid off the road as if they were driving
on ice and thus making the flag easy to snatch away.
Visually, the three cities from the console version are pretty much intact in
the PSP version. The cities are alive with traffic and the night street glitter
from the lights. It’s surprising to see how massive the cities look (I can
already imagine how amazing Liberty City will look in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty
City Stories), although the pedestrian traffic is a no-show here. The vehicles
themselves look amazing and reflect the lights of the cities as well as the
headlight of oncoming traffic. There are cut scenes but the quality isn’t as
great as the console version. Still, we’re looking at an amazing-looking game.
As for the sound, the game’s soundtrack is chock full of tunes … I’m talking a
massive song list with enough electronic, hip-hop and a smattering of rock tunes
to keep you from listening to the same song twice. You’ll find tunes from
artists like Fat Joe and Sean Paul to Jimmy Eat World and Nine Inch Nails.
There’s also some decent sound effects but, like the voices, sound barely
audible. Putting the earphones on helps remedy this a little, but not by very
As a fan of the Midnight Club series, it was easy for me to dismiss the small
control problems or the fact that some of the little things in the console
version were left out. Its flaws might stand out but they do not distract from
the magnificent port of a game with a lot to offer fans of illegal street racing
and import tuning. As it stands, Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition for the PSP might
not be perfect but it delivers all the goods that make this one a great portable
arcade-styled racing game. This one is certainly worth the purchase price.
Review Scoring Details for Midnight Club 3: DUB
The cars might not handle as tightly as the console version but the more you
play the more you’ll come to love its style on the PSP. Even the in-depth tuning
bits and bike races are featured in this one so there’s a lot to love here. Just
try not to let the long load times drive you crazy.
You’ll find it hard not to be impressed by a game the pretty much captures the
graphics of the PS2 version of the game. The cars look amazing even at top
speeds and even the collisions in this game make a nice impact. The cities look
alive and the traffic just adds to a world filled with everything except
pedestrians. It’s just too bad the cutscenes are a bit choppy.
If the visuals weren’t enough to make your jaw drop to the floor, the massive
collection of tunes featured in this game make just means you won’t be hearing
the same tunes over and over. Mainly electronica tunes with some hip-hop and a
mix of rock tunes from the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, the soundtrack
still might not be everyone’s cup of tea. There’s voice acting in this but the
voices sound a bit muffled as does the sound effects.
It’s good to see that the AI wasn’t sacrificed so the races, be it regular
challenges or club challenges, are nicely challenging. The early races will seem
like a breeze but once you get into the thick of things you’ll find plenty of
challenges even in the medium setting.
Surprisingly enough, while the PSP version did cut a few corners here and there,
that addictive Midnight Club feel is intact. Whether you’re into the tuner scene
or love the feel of an illegal race at dawn, DUB Edition is done right. There
are even a nice number of cars to pick from … although, personally, we could
have done without the bulky H1. No Map Editor, though? So this is what it feels
like when doves cry.
Up to six players can hit the streets and race against each another in true
arcade style. There are enough modes and vehicles so each gamer can bring their
own stylish ride to modes like Paint. The only problem is that the long load
times feel just a tad longer in multiplayer. Do not play this with your more
Even with its small share of problems and the exclusion of a few features here
and there, Midnight Club: DUB Edition for the PSP is a Must-Have for gamers that
are in the mood for arcade racing at its most fun. You’ll be surprised how
wonderfully faithful to the console version this game really is so give this a
try if you’ve already worn out Ridge Racer or Need for Speed Underground: