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Reviewed: Midtown Madness 3
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: July 12th, 2003
Page: 2

Midtown Madness 3's basic premise: run a route through the city, in the fastest time. The "route", however, is open, requiring only that you pass through certain intersections or points on streets. The order is up to you. 

In the single-player game, you're an undercover PI, trying to cover various assignments. Basically, it's an excuse to put you on the road and in harm's way, but the options and rewards (unlocking more cars) are there, and the missions do manage to train you to drive well without being boring. Single-player practicing in racing modes (Blitz and Checkpoint) are also there, and are required for unlocking more cars as well.

Speaking of cars... you name it, chances are it's in the game, all the way from a dump truck, to a beetle, through the Audi TT. They're all fun, and you can locate paint jobs for them if you're really careful. It's a nifty incentive to go back through missions, as paint jobs have to be acquired by the car they're meant for.

Multiplayer-side, there are the standard race modes, as well as four more: Capture the Gold, Tag, Hunter, and Stayaway (reverse Tag). Since they're available for split screen, system link, or Live mode, playing is pretty fun.

Rounding out the game is the fact that the soundtrack is replaceable; as is standard on most Xbox games now, your recorded soundtracks can be accessed and added to the game's playlist. It's a nice touch.

Car chases with cop cars exist in the game, too, if you want to try it.

The controls? Nearly flawless. Shifters on the X and B button, handbrake on A, horn on Y, steering on the analog, brake/reverse on left trigger, accelerate on right. Just about what you'd expect; the Xbox controller is very neatly designed to encompass everything someone needs for a driving game. 

The bottom line? Gameplay is a lot of fun.

The downside? Mostly cosmetic. Pedestrians are indestructible, and cops that are led into water immediately respawn. Damage from cars is just cosmetic, and will almost never affect your vehicle's performance. In some ways that's a good thing, since some of the streets are pretty packed, but still it's annoying since it lets the worst drivers off without making them choose better lines; most of the time, hitting another car will barely slow you down.

The AI is decently annoying in many missions, too; it seems to be invulnerable to most objects except permanent fixtures (buildings), and will make an unerring beeline right for your car in most situations involving a chase, such as early pizza-rival levels or cops chasing you. Not a good thing, especially when the game makes sure they get just that extra boost of speed to catch up every time.

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Added:  Saturday, July 12, 2003
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/3

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