Mr Fall

Intestinal Fauna
Bam Bam Bigelow
Bam Bam Bigelow
"ok YOU try having a fictional relationship with someone after they'd fictionally used you for marzipanning trepanning while they wore fictional upset toddlers as legs, and not be bitter"
  Mr Beatings
  Midnight Club Xbox 360 Review

Excuse me if I haven’t played any of the Midnight Club series before this, but, you know, fuck you. In this game you play an unnamed driver (who from now on will be called Geoff the Salmon) who’s new in town trying to prove that you can press a metal pedal down further than anyone has ever pressed a metal pedal down before. While turning a wheel. Or something. To be honest, I wasn’t paying that much attention to the plot as it was a) almost non existent and b) not required for a game of this type. You have car. You make go fast. That’s all you need to know.

It’s set in an open-world representation of Los Angeles, and parallels to Burnout Paradise abound. You have an towny bit, an beachy bit and an hilly bit. Also some an freeway bits. Random traffic populates the roads, but it tends to come in clumps rather than flow steady and realistically. I noticed this more on the freeway sections more than anywhere else. A big irritation comes in the form of the police, who see even minor infractions as an excuse to chase you down and hold you to gunpoint. To the point that I found myself being led away to the police station after leaving my car idling in an alley when popping off to the toilet.

The graphics are simply gorgeous, with special mention given to the stellar rain effects. The frame rate is kept quite high, but is slightly marred by the occasional bit of random traffic simply materialising straight in front of you giving no time for corrective action before the inevitable impact. Impacts happen a lot, which can mostly be attributed to oncoming traffic’s lack of headlights. At least in Burnout Paradise you got a chance as oncoming traffic flashed their headlights. No such luck here, you’re especially luckless when in the shadow of a huge building or traversing one of the tunnels in downtown.

Events are started by being repeatedly irritated by some sort of stone age communication equipment that lurches onto the screen at the bottom left. A small grey LCD screen has someone’s fizzog plastered on it while you get berated about meeting an man or an woman somewhere. If you don’t want to instantly do this, you’ll get reminded by the utter bastards every 5 minutes until you cave in and do their bidding. “Oh come now, you exaggerate the irritation, surely” I hear you mutter to the dark corners of your room. No. No I don’t, as the game designers saw fit that while these things squawk at you, your minimap telling you where you are and where to go, is completely obscured by this primitive calculator. I found myself repeatedly missing out on plot details as I was just pressing up on the dpad to cut them off to see where I was going.

Plot. Geoff the Salmon meets lots of people who are boorishly cuntish in a wide range of stereotypical accents about their lumps of metal filled with chemicals. You have Russian Man, Chinese Man, Hispanic Man, Black Man and White Man representing all the people of the entire world (California) ever. You beat the men in their cars and they get upset and say you can never beat them again in their cars then you beat them again in their cars and they get upset again and cars and upset and cars again and beat cars upset men. Also women. You race, in short. Race race and race again. And again. There’s nothing else to do apart from race. Ooh, I tell a lie you can also deliver cars for the garage where you have to race the car to it’s destination. You can also choose to do brief “payback” missions where you have to damage target cars for some spurious reason. Against the clock. Quickly. Almost racing to do it, in fact.

Prior to each race a huge swaggering cock regularly preens in front of the vehicles and loathsomely cunts about before calling a start to the proceedings. This practise in itself makes me yearn for GTA like controls so that I can exit the vehicle and pound their faces into the asphalt until only mush and bone fragments remain. Very rarely do you come across a genuinely likable character, which made any sort of empathy for me impossible. It also doesn’t help that the storyline to go with all this is so insipid.

Do you like product placement in games and movies? Then you’re in your element here, my friend. The Mr Professor that people talk to you through is a *-****** device. **** *** stores litter the streets. Even two of the achievements are sponsored. Despicable.

There are many cars in this game, which surprised me in a game about racing cars. There’s... erm… an Lamborghini I think, and erm, an Dodge thing, and an another car or something. I don’t know, they all look the same after a while, and I found myself looking at the little bars at the bottom of the screen to see how the stats stack up rather than the pretty picture. Thankfully, the cars have a little bit more oomph than what was demonstrated in Rockstar’s other property, GTA. You’re not crawling through treacle as your machine languidly floats through the air after jumps. Instead they respond zippily, and there is an appreciable difference between each type which really couldn’t be said of Burnout Paradise.

The cars can be altered and upgraded at the two garages available in the city. The upgrades work in several different categories which affect the handling, acceleration, top speed etc etc. Don’t go expecting any sort of Forza level of car customisation, the upgrades work one way. Putting on some better brakes doesn’t alter the weight or acceleration of the car, and putting in a bigger engine doesn’t affect the handling. It’s very much a simplified system. In fact, they might as well of not bothered with the categories and made a button which said “Make car go better now” which remarkably they sort of already did. Pressing X simply upgrades the car to the maximum level that you’ve unlocked or can afford. Bostin.

Praise can be given for the extensive paint shop, but then swiftly snatched away from their grubby jam caked fingers for the heinous act of making you pay to unlock it [i]for each car[/i]. Daft beggars. Once you’ve dolled up the shiny shiny metal you can upload it to Ze Innerneh for people to gawk at and batter buttons with their foreheads to give you a rating out of ten. Nice little system, if a mite long to load between cars.

In fact, the place where this game shines like a ruddy great lighthouse on fire, is in its online multiplayer. Find a group of willing arseholes and you’re in for a treat. Alternatively, playing this game with friends is also quite fun. You can… yawn… race (sigh) if you want, or play one of the excessively fun flag based events. FPS staple mode Capture The Flag, is like capture the flag but in cars. Stay with me. The true delight comes in the form of Keepaway. It’s like playground Tig, but in cars. Sounds stupid and simple, but has provided many, ahem, lulz and zomgz for me. Events are spiced up with a variety of collectable weapons to be used against each other; from temporary slippy slidey ice effects to powerful rams and boosts.

Reading back, I sound quite harsh on this game, but there’s something there that kept me going back to unlock something else or grind on to another milestone. Oh yes, achievements. That was it.
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