Therapy for my madness.
Have you ever been driving along, minding your own business, only to get cut
off by some nitwit in an SUV or some other large vehicle shaped like a new pair
of Nikes? What is with these people? They're too pretentious to take their new
20-40 thousand dollar road hog 4-wheeling on an off-road terrain, so they decide
to use their half-hour drive to work through city streets as their own personal
Admittedly, this kills two birds with one stone. First off, they don't have
to worry about their precious bad investment getting scratched or dirty. But
more importantly, if you want to show off how much money you've spent on something,
you don't go to some isolated mountain road - you go to the city.
These people drive me nuts. Being the law-abiding citizen that
I am (when sober), I refrain from letting these people know about themselves.
So what do I do to vent my frustrations? I play video games, and racing games
are my therapy of choice for this particular type of frustration. One of the
finest tharapeutic seesions around is the original Midtown
Madness for the PC, which made any 12-step program look like a poorly organized
PTA meeting. So when an early build of Midtown Madness 2 made it's screeching
appearance at the GR compound, I quickly jumped in the driver's seat.
Graphically, Midtown Madness 2 is not that much of an improvement over
its predecessor. This may be a blessing, though, as graphics and textures were
really well done in the first MM.
Damage modeling has been greatly improved. There are now a wider variety of
places on your vehicle that can bend and fold up, as well as more breakaway
parts for your destructive amusement.
"But Shawn, how do the cars drive?" you ask. These babies handle better than
ever before. In the original, you were given a toggle for the physics realism.
This was cool, but you had to place the realism at zero in order for the car
to handle well without spinning out on the slightest sharp turns. In the sequel,
Microsoft has completely done away with the toggle. In its place is simply one
of the most intuitive and visually entertaining physics engines that I have
had the pleasure of experiencing in a street style racer. You will bear witness
to cars driving on two wheels, power slides and really cool muscle car fish
Rather than only racing around Chicago (which was huge!), you get your choice
of two new humongous cities - San Francisco and London. Both come complete with
adjustable traffic, pedestrians and cops. Just think of tearing down Embarcadero
towards Fisherman's Wharf on an early foggy morning in bumper to bumper rush
hour traffic. Now that's when my therapy kicks in.
There have been nine new vehicles added to the roster, including an Aston-Martin
Vantage DB-7, a cherry-red fire engine, and even light attack vehicles for those
really, really aggressive drivers. You will still be able to find all of the
original beauties from the original MM, like the VW bug and the Ford
Mustang. All of these cars are nicely modeled with authentic sounds and suspension.
Just take your pick.
One interesting feature is the brand new Crash Course Mission Mode. Racers
can jump behind the wheel as either a Hollywood stunt driver on location for
the latest action-thriller in San Francisco or as an aspiring cab driver just
entering the halls of the Imperial Cabby Academy in London. This new mode features
a series of skill building scenarios where drivers can attempt to master the
challenges. It's gonna take some practice, though.
Variety is the key to a happy driver, and thankfully the same great play modes
have returned, including Blitz, Checkpoint, Circuit, Cruise, and 8-player multi
Capture the Flag.
Beta builds are always plagued with crashes, glitches, disappearing objects
and all sorts of evil that are (hopefully) not seen in the final versions. Although
our copy of Midtown Madness 2 shared all of these beta problems, it did
not detract from the fun one iota - and that's what you call a good game. I've
had some great fun playing this early build of Midtown Madness 2, and
can only imagine what the finished version is going to be like when it's
released this Fall 2000.