On 06/19/03 by Turner 'Bulldog' Hopkinson
Developer: Digital Illusions
Publisher: Microsoft Games
Release Date: 06/17/03
Official Site: www.xbox.com/midtownmadness3
Platform(s): N/A, Xbox exclusive.
Tested On: Xbox
The single-player gameplay in Midtown Madness 3 isn't the most creative thing I've ever seen but on the flipside of that equation I don't think it was designed to be overly creative either. As you progress through the insane storyline you must pass three out of the four "mini-missions" to move onto the next job. You'll play through two different cities, France and Washington, and each is designed down to the most intricate detail. Most of the objectives involve reaching a destination in a certain amount of time or beating an opponent around a preset track. But the best part about these objectives is two fold. One, if you fail the mission it actually isn't necessarily a bad thing to do it over, in fact it's usually pretty fun, a rarity in itself. Secondly, there are countless different routes you can choose. You can indeed follow the path they determine for you and while it is usually the quickest in general it is wise to pay attention to potential shortcuts, such as flying through parks instead of going around them. The physics take the cake at being the most unrealistic out there but that is what makes the game as fun as it. Not to mention the types of vehicles you'll have access to as you complete other single-player missions not related to the campaign. Buses, fire trucks, ambulances, and a slew of real elite cars including the Escalade all make an appearance. Overall the best way to describe the gameplay is simply as "fun". It's not meant to be taken seriously and the satire is at times downright hilarious. I almost forgot the multi-player. If you are one of the lucky subscribers to Microsoft's online service Live! you will have an added bonus to the replayability of the game. There are several unique modes of gameplay including an equivalent to playing tag with your car. Everything is easy to set-up, easy to login and once you do you'll quickly find yourself immersed in racing with your peers.
For the most part the graphics are enjoyable and realistic. The two cities are enormous and include many of the real life monuments, including the Eiffel Tower among other locations. I did have some minor issues with clipping and the amusement factor in the unrealistic crashes quickly comes crashing down after you take a VW Bug and manage to somehow make a bus flip over three times. Worthy of mention is the fact that everything in the environment can be mowed over as many times as your little heart desires. Nothing happens to trees when you hit them (actually you go through them without anything whatsoever happening) but everything else (light poles, parking meters, barricades, etc.) are fair game.
For a change this is a game where poor voice acting is a definite bonus. It does a great job in adding to the hilarity of the entire campaign. The French accents are terrible but I get the distinct impression that's the way the developer set out to have them be. The musical score on the other hand was enjoyable at first but as the campaign progressed and my hours of play piled up I found it to be more annoying than anything else.
In a Word: Fun
Word to the Publisher: Great job. Provided you aren't looking for a realistic racing game like the Gran Turismo series Midtown Madness 3 is one of the most enjoyable games I've had the opportunity to play on the Xbox.
Final Score: 90%