Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition First Look
Rockstar takes the wraps off of the latest entry in its street racing franchise, which will feature licensed cars and an affiliation with the influential upper-crust automotive lifestyle magazine.
Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition is the recently announced third entry in Rockstar Games' street racing franchise, which originally debuted on the PlayStation 2 in 2000 as part of the first wave of PS2 games. At the time, street racing hadn't quite made the splash like it has in the racing genre lately, so the game was viewed as a stylish and unique arcade racer that served as a fine showcase for the newly minted PlayStation 2's power. The second entry in the series expanded to the Xbox and PC as well as the PS2, and it stayed true to the original game's formula of open-street racing. The addition of online play to the mix helped keep the franchise evolving as well.
This latest entry in the series, once again developed by Rockstar San Diego, builds on the previous entries in the series with the same refined graphics and gameplay. However, in addition to those expected sequel elements, Rockstar is tossing in a healthy dose of style thanks to its partnership with DUB Magazine, an automotive lifestyle publication that has been very influential in the rap and hip-hop traditions. We had the chance to take a brief look at an early work-in-progress version of the game to get a taste of what to expect.
We were able to see the PlayStation 2 version of the game. An Xbox version is also in development, though there are no plans for a PC version at this time. We saw the game's slick-looking menu system followed by some racing through the late-night streets of Detroit. Here we got to see a good amount of pedestrian traffic and some extremely fast racing action as the game's refurbished graphics engine strutted its stuff. Truthfully, we didn't get to see more than a few minutes' worth of racing, but we did get to see actual gameplay. We didn't see more than a few different vehicles, and the damage modeling wasn't implemented in this build, either. Now let's talk about what we found out.
Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition will make use of the same basic framework as the previous entry in the series, in that it will feature arcade, career, a race editor, and online modes to explore. There will also be a garage in which to fully customize one's collection of vehicles. This time out, the game will place a much heavier emphasis on customization thanks to its incorporation of over 50 licensed real-world cars and tons of different authentic aftermarket parts, which is a departure from the made-up vehicles seen in previous Midnight Club games. Rockstar's partnership with DUB Magazine will give you the opportunity to fully customize your in-game wheels, which will come courtesy of well-known manufacturers such as Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, and Ducati, to name just a few. The game's emphasis will be squarely on high-end, high-performance luxury vehicles, including sports cars, sedans, SUVs, and motorcycles.
The gameplay will supposedly throw some new twists at you in order to keep the experience fresh while retaining the open-ended nature of the series that it is known for. Once again, players will have the freedom to navigate from checkpoint to checkpoint at their discretion, and they will have to outmaneuver aggressive computer-controlled vehicles (or human players, in the online mode) to get to the finish line first. One subtle change this time around is that the game seems to move even faster than its predecessor--but the streets have also been lengthened, resulting in what seems like insanely fast (but not unmanageably fast) inner-city racing.
Meanwhile, car customization will run deep and let you tweak your wheels to perfection, provided you have the cash. Players will be able to optimize their vehicles both for style and for performance. Performance upgrades will include suspension, air intakes, superchargers, and more. Style upgrades will include things like body kits and big, flashy rims. As for online play, while exact details on the available online features are slim at the moment, we do know that the game will support up to eight players online and that last year's functionality will likely be included along with some new stuff.
Rockstar emphasized that many more high-end vehicles will be included in Midnight Club 3 than in its predecessor, resulting in a greater amount of variety in vehicle choice for high-level online races. Along with the customization options, this should result in what Rockstar called a "unique sense of ownership" for players, who should have a good time taking their expensive, dubbed-out rides online against the competition.
The graphics in the game, while still coming together, showcase a refined art style and graphics engine, as well as Midnight Club's signature smooth frame rate. The game features a slicker look thanks to a pleasing sheen of special effects, such as motion blur, reflective surfaces, spectacular lighting, and other effects that will help sell the whole night-racing and city-driving experiences. The environments in the game will once again offer massive free-roaming areas for you to burn rubber in. According to Rockstar reps, the game will take place throughout America in cities such as San Diego, Atlanta, and Detroit.
We were told to expect that the game's graphics will also exhibit a rather upsetting display when you crash your car. The cars will supposedly all feature realistic damage modeling, allowing you to not just bang up your pricey vehicle a little but pretty much reduce it to a smoldering husk if you're careless. This should all be made especially painful thanks to the impressive level of customization open to you for your car, right down to the multihued paint jobs you can give your vehicle that let you layer up to five subtle color washes in addition to the base color.
Rockstar was mum about specifics of the soundtrack, but the demo version of the game we saw was complemented by some aggressive rap, which is suggestive of the direction that Midnight Club 3's soundtrack is going to go in. On the sound effects side of things, plan on hearing robust engine sounds for the cars in the game as well as some painful effects for crashes and other in-game traumas. Ambient sound will also figure into the game's atmosphere by cranking out the sounds of city life to pull you into the experience.
We didn't get to see much of it, but what we did see and learn about Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition suggests that it's on its way toward becoming a strong third entry in the franchise. The varied assortment of modes and their online and offline play options have a lot of potential, and DUB Magazine's contribution to the style and aesthetics in the game should help keep the Midnight Club series on the forefront of the racing game styles rather than following suit like most other racing games do. While the racing genre now has many more entries in the street racing category than it has had in the last few years, Rockstar Games is confident that this next installment will be able to challenge any of the competition head-on. Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition is currently slated to ship this fall for the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox. Look for more on the game in the coming months.
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