Review: Midtown Madness 2 (PC)

In this review, we check out the PC racing game Midtown Madness 2. We find out if this sequel overtakes the original or not.

Midtown Madness 2 was released in 2000 and is the sequel to Midtown Madness which we reviewed earlier.

Like Midtown Madness, Midtown Madness 2 features four main racing modes: Cruise, Blitz, Checkpoint, and Circuit. Cruise allows you to race throughout the town. Blitz pits you against the clock as you race through a small set of checkpoints. Checkpoint is like Blitz, only with opponents and your goal is to finish in the top 3 (Amateur) or you have to win (Professional). Circuit is a closed circuit course somewhere in town and pits you against opponents as you race laps (ranking requirements same as Checkpoint).

In addition to this, you also have a crash course. This is probably the biggest highlight of the game in terms of creativity. You have certain objectives in each lesson. Some are simply requiring you to race through checkpoints. Other objectives have huge range like requiring you to maintain a certain speed as you work your way around the course, following another car, evading police/”fans”, or even destroying an opponent before the time is up.

One feature of this game that is a nice upgrade to the original is that you have a choice of towns: San Fransisco or London. Both cities have their own sets of races and even their own crash course. This certainly adds a fair amount of depth to this game where you can flip over from one town to the other.

Another feature that is similar to the previous game is the ability to unlock cars. What’s different is that this game contains a huge upgrade to the number of different cars you can play. There is one downside to this and that is the fact that a lot of the cars you can unlock are basically useless to you. The third fastest car in the whole game, the Roadster, is available from the very beginning. You also have a few other somewhat slower vehicles from the beginning that have better turning and off road capabilities. As a result, there’s only a couple of vehicles that you can unlock that actually does help make your life easier overall in the races. In addition, a lot of the items you can unlock are merely paint job changes which is something I can just shrug at. Still, the variety available is impressive as each vehicle drives and behaves somewhat differently.

One well advertised feature of this game is that this is an open world concept racing game. I’m not entirely sure that is accurate because most of the races have a checkpoint system and many of those races have a limited amount of routs worth taking. At most, there’s the same number of alternate routs as Rush 2, but even that is a stretch. It is an open concept game which is nice to see. So, you really feel like you are in a city, but if you are in the actual races, it’s not as free roaming as some would lead you to believe. Half the time, the main rout is pretty much the most efficient rout. Sometimes, you can alter the checkpoint order from time to time, but you are pretty much sticking to the same roads. If the checkpoints were further apart, then I can see more alternate routes being possible, but that doesn’t happen that often.

One flaw I found in this game is that you have to choose Amateur or Professional ranking from the beginning. You can’t have Amateur and Professional races in the same file. If there is, I was unable to find it. Amateur, I found, has a nice difficulty curve and gives you a chance in most races. Professional has tougher opponents and tighter time requirements. This makes it so that one small mistake in your race can send you to the back of the pack with little to no chance of catching up after. If you stick to the Amateur difficulty, I found this game to be quite enjoyable. The professional difficulty, I found, was quite unforgiving and frustrating because you are forced to drive at such a fast speed, the physics engine begins to glitch out to the point where it seems that every object in the game is out to get you including sidewalk curves that can magically stop you dead in your tracks from time to time. If you stick to Amateur, yes, you’ll definitely enjoy this game. Avoid the professional difficulty because it’s more annoying than it’s worth.

Graphically, this game is quite good. There’s numerous effects and there are plenty of breakables throughout this game to the point that it’s not hard to leave a huge mess on the road. Unfortunately, this game, like Midtown Madness, has slowdowns. It’s nowhere near as bad as the prequel which can drop to 0 frames per second, but the slowdowns are quite annoying. These slowdowns seem to happen when you are on one side of the map and are facing into the city. It’s as if the game is trying to render the whole city and it forces the engine to grind. I had to lower the quality of the game by quite a bit in the settings for this to be tolerable for the most part.

The audio was nicely done. The main menu music reminds me of Lefty’s Mill from Excitebike 64, only slowed down. The other music is pretty good and changes if you are being chased by a cop or are on the final portion of a certain kind of race. The highlight of the sound was the voice commentaries throughout as you have multiple different voice overs that react to what you drive and how well you did. The sound effects were also very nicely done. So, I have no complaints on the sound effects and the music was pretty good.

Overall, I found that if you stick to the easier setting, this game is quite enjoyable. I thought that the professional setting was pretty much a pointless thing tacked on because it was so difficult and took the fun out of the game. It has an open map concept and there’s some variety in the races. The most variety, however, came from the Crash courses which almost makes me wish some of those race types were actually found in the rest of the game. The graphics were great except for the slowdowns. The sound was pretty good as well. So, overall, I thought this was an enjoyable racer.


Furthest point in game: Completed everything in Amateur. Earned 5000 points in Professional, though I just wasn’t having enough fun to try and get more (could easily earn more, but opted not to).

General gameplay: 21/25
Replay value: 9/10
Graphics: 6/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 80%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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