Midtown Madness 3 Hands-On

We test-drive 2D and 3D preview versions of In-Fusio's upcoming street racer.

We recently had an opportunity to get hands-on with two very different mobile versions of the Xbox racing game Midtown Madness 3. In-Fusio plans to release a 2D version of the game for Java and Brew phones in mid-November, while the fully fledged 3D game for Smart phones is scheduled to arrive toward the end of that month or early in December.

Although the two versions of the game that we got to test-drive look very different, the gameplay is actually very similar. Both games are set in Paris and will feature two career modes (allowing you to play as a paramedic or a delivery guy), checkpoint races, and blitz races (which are the same as checkpoint races, except that you can pass through the checkpoints in any order). Your objectives in all of the gameplay modes are essentially checkpoint-based, and the only difference is that in the paramedic and the delivery guy games your bright green checkpoints are replaced with injured patients and packages, respectively.

The 2D version, which is played from a top-down perspective, offer more arcade-style handling, and it wasn't long before we were sliding around corners and causing the patients in the back of our ambulance to complain. We were able to crash into and more or less drive through all but the largest of inanimate objects in the city (the Arc de Triomphe, for example), and our antics would surely have caused enough injuries to keep the ambulance missions going indefinitely if the game worked that way. The control scheme we were using required us to push up on the joystick (or 2 on the keypad) to move forward, no matter which direction our vehicle was facing, and it's not yet clear whether the game will allow you to change the control settings so that you can push the joystick in the direction that you actually want to travel on the screen.

The 3D version of Midtown Madness 3 Mobile, which we were able to play only via an emulator, looked quite impressive and it (on the emulator at least) ran at a good speed. We were only able to drive the game's "Micro" vehicle, but got a good look at waiting-to-be-unlocked models for an ambulance, a Mini Cooper S, an Avalanche off-road vehicle, and a sports car named Majestic 12. We found that the 3D game was actually a little more difficult to play than the 2D version, because with the limited periphery vision afforded to us by the screen shape, we were forced to rely on the map in the lower-left corner of the screen for a lot of our navigation--making it tricky to keep an eye on traffic. Like the 2D game, the checkpoint races were against four CPU vehicles--none of which presented a great challenge on the normal difficulty setting.

We'll bring you more information on both versions of Midtown Madness 3 Mobile as soon as it becomes available.

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