Midtown Madness 3 Online Impressions

We check out the upcoming racer's online goods.

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We recently had a chance to check out Midtown Madness 3's online offerings. While the build of the game we played connected to Microsoft's test server, it gave us a fair idea of what to expect from an online game. Midtown Madness 3 supports the standard Xbox Live features, such as voice masks and game matching, and it includes six game modes that support up to eight players.

When you take Midtown Madness 3 online, you'll have the option to hop into quick match or optimatch games or host your own game. Quickmatch and optimatch work just like they would in any other Xbox game. The host option lets you set the number of players (two to eight), the invite mode (public or friends only), and the skill level (beginner, intermediate, or advanced) to ensure that the optimatch search finds the right players for your game. A friends option lets you manage your friends list and view or send invitations, and a status option lets you choose to appear on- or offline. The game will also let you download new content when it's available.

The game types in Midtown Madness 3 cover the territory you'd expect. You'll find cruise, checkpoint, capture the gold, tag, hunter, and stayaway modes. Cruise lets you zip around a city without time limits or damage. Checkpoint is a race to the finish between you and your opponents. Capture the gold is a race to collect a sack of gold and then get it to a designated stash point before your opponents take it from you. You can choose to make it a free-for-all or a team-based competition. Tag is a race to hit another player and tag him or her before a counter runs out and removes you from play. The last car remaining is the winner. To keep things interesting, you can choose to play the game in teams. Hunter is a variation on tag that divides players into hunters and prey. When players designated as prey are tagged, they become hunters. The last player who is prey wins. Finally, stayaway is a race to hold on to a rabbit. The longer you hold on to the virtual bunny, the more points you earn.

We were able to try out a few modes and were pleased by how they handled. Capture the gold was one of our favorites, thanks to how hectic things got. The game ran well with a roster of players that varied from four to six. The size of the cities bogged down some of the modes, such as tag and hunter, as it was possible to lose the group. Capture the gold, stayaway, and checkpoint, with their more-structured goals, played a bit better, thanks to their pacing. During the games, the control was responsive and there didn't seem to be any noticeable issues. From what we've seen so far, Midtown Madness 3's online modes are shaping nicely and should offer a solid Xbox Live experience.

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