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Product: Midtown Madness 3
Company: Microsoft
Website: Official Midtown Madness 3 Site
Estimated Street Price: $49.99/£39.99
Review By: Byron Hinson

The Features

It has been a long time coming, but finally last week Microsoft sent me the gold code for the first Midtown Madness title for the Xbox, and I am glad to say it has been worth the wait, at least for those of us who were already fans of the series.
  • Wide-open racing in two living, breathing cities: Enjoy highly detailed, fully researched renditions of Paris and Washington, D.C.—complete with ambient traffic and animated pedestrians. Encounter hidden routes, shortcuts, and hideouts that showcase the incredible depth of these two city environments.
  • Career mode: Work through more than 50 missions across 14 careers, including a limousine driver, pizza deliverer, taxi driver, secret agent, and police officer. Unlock new careers, vehicles, and challenges, and progress through the game by completing a series of missions.
  • Diverse vehicles: Put your driving skills to the test with a wide assortment of fast and fun vehicles. Select from more than 30 vehicles, including licensed cars from top manufacturers and vehicles such as city buses or taxis
  • Online play: Challenge friends and others with online play and downloadable content. (Online play details to be disclosed at a later date).
  • Advanced graphics and audio: In leveraging the audio capabilities of Xbox, Midtown Madness 3 delivers traffic, pedestrian, voice-over, and ambient sound effects—particular to the cities and neighborhoods in which play takes place—providing a fully interactive racing experience.

Gameplay

Review Quotes
"There are a few negatives graphically though, there is no widescreen mode, which is a real disappointment to me, there are also a LOT of jaggies on the screen when racing around. One plus again though is that the draw-in distance is far better than Wreckless ever was."

You get to start undercover at the beginning as a cop, taking roles (Depending on which city you go with, Paris or Washington) as Delivery Guy, Taxi Driver, Chauffeur, Security Guard, Paramedic, Police Officer and Special agent when you go with the Paris side of the game...you start off with a choice of five cars. If you go with Washington then you have other types of levels such as pizza delivery, very similar to what happens in the Paris level, but just set in a different area, with different maps and more people to dodge.

The undercover mode is the main part of the single player game, it is where you unlock more vehicles, do varying things in the game, get around the whole map and generally get a good feel for the game.

There are lots of different styles again for those of you who don’t want to play through the main part of the game (although I recommend that you do). In the single race modes you can choose from Cruise, which is just driving around the city you choose to race in. Then you have Blitz, which is a race against time against other drivers, and finally checkpoint, which is the one I seem to prefer playing.

The gameplay is very similar to before, but a lot faster, and with more Stuff to smash into. The closest other game on the Xbox that I can compare it to is Wreckless, the only difference is that Wreckless sucked and MM3 works really, really well in what it does, where as Wreckless didn't. The other great thing about MM3 is that is can actually make you laugh, and the bonus video the game comes with (on the DVD-ROM) is also really well written and acted, and is very funny to watch. It is well worth the watch.

As many of you already know, it seems to have been a long wait for another good Xbox Live! title to be released, and with Brute Force coming out without any kind of Live! online play, it is with great relief that Microsoft has seen fit to put the online multiplayer elements into Midtown Madness 3, as the game certainly would not get such a high mark if it did not have Live! multiplayer support, that is for sure.

The game comes into its own when you get on Xbox Live! There are loads more game modes to choose from, along with the usual friend lists and downloadable content such as maps and cars. There are options for quick matches such as Cruise, Checkpoint, Capture the gold (cops and robbers), Tag, Hunter and Stayaway. The good thing to note here is that I have yet to have any connection or ping problems what so ever.

I have had a few problems so far though; each level seems to take a long time loading, although this is more likely to be because it loads up the whole of the city you choose to play on. The other is the fact that there are only two maps currently in the game, Paris and Washington.

Graphics & Sound

Review Quotes
"There are lots of different styles again for those who don’t want to play through the main part of the game (although I recommend that you do). In the single race modes you can choose from Cruise, which is just driving around the city you choose to race in. Then you have Blitz, which is a race against time against other drivers, and finally checkpoint, which is the one I seem to prefer playing."

Graphically it is far better than I expected, it also looks like it has had a lot more money spent on the game in terms of cut scenes and audio thanks to it being switched to an Xbox only title, the feel of the game thanks to that is excellent. There is always a lot going on in Midtown Madness 3, so the main thing to say here is that there has been no slow down in the games I have played so far, even when there are a number of cars and people onscreen at once.

Screenshot 1Screenshot 2Screenshot 3Screenshot 4
Screenshot 5Screenshot 6Screenshot 7Screenshot 8
Screenshot 9Screenshot 10Screenshot 11Screenshot 12

Images courtesy Microsoft (http://www.xbox.com)

 

There are a few negatives graphically though, there is no widescreen mode, which is a real disappointment to me, there are also a LOT of jaggies on the screen when racing around. One plus again though is that the draw-in distance is far better than Wreckless ever was.

Final Comments

How It Grades
Controls: 89%
Gameplay: 84%
Presentation: 88%
Graphics: 80%
Multiplayer: 90%
Sound: 81%
Manual: 80%
Interface: 82%
Lastability: 80%%
Price/Value: 88%
Overall: 89%

Let me just say that if you enjoyed Midtown Madness 2 on the PC then you will love Midtown Madness 3, it is more of the same, but with better graphics, better sounds, improved maps, better cities and the icing on the cake – Xbox Live! Support. But if you never liked the Midtown Madness series 1 & 2, don't bother, there is nothing here that will make you change your views on it.

Specs & Package
Overall Score 88%
Version Reviewed Midtown Madness 3 (PAL)
Release Date Out Now
In The Box? 1 Midtown Madness 3 DVD-ROM
1 Set Of Instructions
The Good Points Great control
Lots of fun
Lots of game types
Live! Support
Good Graphics
The Bad Points If you didn't like the others you won't like this
Xbox Live! Enabled? Yes
Widescreen Support No
PAL 60 Support (Europe) Yes


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