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Midtown Madness 3

Developer: Digital Illusions | Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Players: 1 to 4 Player Game | Release Date: 06/17/03 | Genre: Driving

Microsoft's arcade racer Midtown Madness 3 for Xbox, centers around a full-scale reproduction of Washington, DC (the other city in the game is Paris, but I'd rather not talk about the French more than I have to). While it has its ups and downs as a game, I can definitely recommend Midtown Madness 3 to anyone who will be driving in DC, as its level design is nearly flawless.

Continuing my rave of the game's near-perfect replication of Washington and the 'other' city, I encourage anyone to take a stroll down New Hampshire Ave. just one block south of Dupont Circle. In that short stretch you will not only drive past my apartment, but also my office (yes, I have the world's shortest commute). If you are not interested in the Tour de Grandstaff, the game's gorgeous graphics will make your drives past the capitol building, Georgetown's campus and the city's national monuments the next best thing to hiring a tour guide (and yes, in Paris you can drive past the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and even the latest 'Real World' home). Bottom line: if you can see it in real life, you will see it in the game.

Differing itself from real city driving, Midtown Madness' combination of arcade-styled racing and fantastic collision make the drive through the big city a blast and relatively stress free. Probably the best way to describe the experience would be to call it a more authentic Crazy Taxi. However, instead of being just a taxi driver, gamers also assume the role of truck drivers, pizza delivery guys and more as they frantically follow the arrow to reach their destination.

If at this point if you're thinking, 'Is this exactly like Crazy Taxi?' you're not too far from the truth. The only differences between the two is that in Midtown Madness, the game is backed by a plot (albeit an extremely weak one) and you you can make your own soundtracks instead of listening to the Offspring over and over. This comes as quite a disappointment as the single-player gameplay fails to break any new ground, and honestly, the driving missions in the recent Grand Theft Auto games are far superior.

Fortunately, where Midtown Madness fails as a single-player game, it is one of the better multiplayer experiences on Xbox Live-'allowing up to eight players at a time. The multiplayer mayhem is divided into four different games, of which three are pretty standard in formula: Capture the Gold (the Midtown Madness equivalent to capture the flag); Tag (pretty self-explanatory); and Stayaway (if you are 'it,' avoid being hit). While these all provide tons of multiplayer fun, the last game, Hunter, stands out as the most enjoyable. Here, one car begins as the hunter while the rest of the cars are the prey. Each time the hunter hits a car, the new car will also become a hunter. So ultimately, the goal is to be the last of the prey being hunted down by others.

While all of the multiplayer games are addictive and fun, many gamers will realize they have been down this road before in multiplayer modes of other driving games ' most recently in Midnight Club II. That said, gamers might want to rent this one first if they already have an online driving title. However, if you're still deprived of an online racing experience, you won't be disappointed with Midtown Madness 3.

By - 07/06/03
ESRB Details: Violence
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Screenshots for Midtown Madness 3

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