Written by  :  Kasey Chang (4620)
Written on  :  Apr 01, 2005
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More of the same means same strengths, same faults

The Good

Lots of familiar cars // more exotic cars // interesting landmarks // pure adrenaline rush of driving the way you'd NEVER do in real-life // multiplayer modes // crash course missions

The Bad

LACK OF REPLAY CAMERA/RECORDER // graphics actually looks rather lousy compared to other car games // city TOO simplified at times, // crash course exams too hard and/or too unforgiving

The Bottom Line

Midtown Madness 2 is basically Midtown Madness x 2. You get TWO cities to play in now, and they've also thrown in more cars, and some missions in addition to the circuit, blitz, and checkpoint races. And of course, you can just cruise around. The driving model is relaxed and collision is toned down a bit to get you the arcade thrills. Should be a masterpiece, right? Not quite.

The car selection is sure eclectic. You get fast cars like Panoz Roadster, but you also get clunkers like Ford F-350 and Freightliner. The slow vehicles are useless against AI. They are mainly fun in cruise mode and multiplayer mode. Unfortunately, some of the vehicles must be unlocked by winning races, and that can cause some problems for some players.

The two cities are modelled decently enough, but many streets are compressed or taken out. Landmarks are simplified and/or ignored. Still, the thought does count, and recognizing the landmarks are a hoot. The real fun starts when you get behind the wheel... And start indulging in your car driving fantasies, such as climb up Lombard, drag race down Market st, and more.

The feature that everybody asks by now is why didn't the Angel Studios put in a recorder? It's the best way to review your jumps, figure out how you missed the turn, and so on and so forth. Instead, you don't even get an automaic highlight review nor a victory screen when you defeat all races. This game has very little positive feedback.

The crash course missions are interesting, but it still falls back to "take this somewhere really fast). The exams in the crash course can be extremely tedious and completely unforgiving. It discriminates against keyboard users due to their lack of fine control. One minor mistake and you have LOST the entire exam, and have to restart from the very beginning! When the exam is several minutes long, this gets EXTREMELY frustrating.

For example, the London Final Exam starts with a fast run and a taxi chase, which takes up 2.5 minutes. Then you need to race through the city going past multiple checkpoints. Then you make it to Tower of London, jump via the drawbridge, and start jumping from barge to barge. The margin of error is ZERO once you start jumping, as a failure means you either end up in the River Thames, or you have ruined your car to the point where it's impossible to continue. And never mind the time limit!

The various racing modes are somewhat interesting the first few times. Circuit is your standard circuit racing, but there's a catch... you can CREATE shortcuts by crashing through the barriers (which are too light). There may be other shortcuts you can use as well. Other racing modes have similar problems. As the traffic and such are random, winning is half luck.

All in all, Midtown Madness 2 failed to fix the flaws and instead simply provided more of the same. For some that may be enough, but gamers demand better, and Microsoft has failed in that regard.