Hands-onMidnight Club II

Rockstar delivers a near-final version of its online racing game.

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GameSpot has received a near-final version of Rockstar Games' upcoming racing game, Midnight Club II. The game picks up where the last game left off, packing a ton of checkpoint races into three open-area cities. But what sets the game apart from its predecessor is its new moves, new modes, and online play.

Midnight Club II's career mode is set up roughly identically to the original game's. As before, you'll take to the streets in a low-end car and have to work your way through the ranks of an underground street racing circuit. You make your way in this world by finding racers called hookmen, who drive aimlessly around the city, looking for trouble. Once you get behind a racer and flash your high beams, you have to tail that racer until he or she has been satisfied that you're worthy, which leads you to the next series of races. Along the way you'll earn cars and unlock new moves, such as the ability to control your car in midair, the ability to drive on two wheels, and the slipstream turbo, which lets you draft behind opponents to earn extra turbo boosts. The game also has motorcycles, which let you pop wheelies or duck down for extra boosts of speed. Finally, a race edit mode lets you drop your own checkpoints in the city, creating your own checkpoint races. These races can be saved and taken online.

While we haven't been able to play the online mode thoroughly, the game appears to translate fairly well to the online arena, allowing for a maximum of eight players. You'll only be able to play on servers that are playing levels that you've unlocked in the single-player game, and you'll only have access to the cars you've unlocked. The game has a handful of attack and defense power-ups, including extra turbo boosts, shots that reduce an opponent's traction, and reverse steering controls.

With the game hitting shelves nationwide over the next day or two, we'll be testing the game out on the retail servers against live players. We'll have a review of Midnight Club II shortly.

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