Way back in 2005, when I was a much younger man barely into my 30s, I had a Playstation 2, along with most of the rest of the gaming world, it seemed. I’d bought it specifically to play Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, as I was very much a fan of racing games. And this love of automotive-based games has continued, through the Gran Turismo games, and right up to these days where I like nothing more than to while away the hours playing the latest and greatest of the Forza games, either Horizon or Motorsport.
However, back in 2005, my ownership of any flavour of Xbox was a long way in the future, and there was another couple of series of racing games on the PS2 that were worthy of interest. The first, Need for Speed, I’ve covered in a previous listicle where I ranked them in order of greatness according to my taste. The second, Midnight Club, has largely slipped into obscurity, despite the fact that there were three installments back in the day. This is me casting my mind back 15 years to playing a game that was on a system I no longer have, so I can’t even sneakily load it up and refresh my memory. So please, if there are any factual errors in what I’m about to write, let me apologise in advance and claim advancing years.
The history of the Midnight Club games, and indeed their entire genesis, is based on an infamous club that used to hold highly illegal races around the Japanese city of Tokyo, where they would race down the Bayshore Route of the Shuto Expressway. This club or team was called the Mid Night Club, and from this sprang the games of Midnight Club. From these early beginnings, the series grew and matured, and by the time the third installment in the series came around, it was of such a stature that DUB Magazine got involved. This magazine featured urban customised cars, and went on to have a whole range of merchandise bearing the name. In this context, DUB refers to a wheel featured to a car that is 20 inches or greater in size, and quite often the rides featured in the magazine would have the most ridiculous looking rims fitted, featuring spinners, gold, bling and all the other nonsense that infested the custom car scene in those days. If ever there was a magazine that made Max Power look highbrow, I can safely say that DUB was it.
I seem to have got sidetracked by my hatred of stupid looking customised cars. Now, at this time, DUB and Rockstar got on like the proverbial house on fire, and the result is Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition, which features DUB sponsored races and customised vehicles as prizes for winning said races. Now, my instinct in these type of games is always the same: go Japanese and you can’t go wrong. For every game that starts out with a selection of battered rides, there’s usually a Japanese vehicle to choose from, like a Nissan 180SX or something similar. Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition was no different, as there were seven different types of cars you could choose from: Tuners, my choice, were the first, swiftly followed by Luxury Sedans, SUVS/Trucks, Exotics, Muscle Cars, Sports Bikes and Choppers. Now, call me silly or old-fashioned, but I’ve never liked motorbikes in what is ostensibly a car racing game; it is an accident waiting to happen. If a bike crashes into a car (and the way I drove them, they did, a lot) the bike comes off worse. If a car crashes into a bike (and again, they did) the bike still comes off worse. I’m firmly of the opinion that if I’m going to be doing highly illegal street racing, I’d rather have the protection of a couple of tons of metal around me than a bit of cow hide.
Anyway, on to the game and Midnight Club 3 was very much on the arcade end of the scale, featuring stupidly fast action through the streets of three American cities. The game opens in San Diego, where we were offered a choice of cars, before going out and challenging for ownership of “da streets”. Looking back, these choices came in the form of the Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Dodge Neon SRT-4, Mitsubishi Eclipse (as popularised in the first Fast and Furious film, as the car Paul Walker starts out in), VW Golf R32 or a VW Jetta. I mean seriously, a Jetta? Take a Golf, remove any semblance of cool, add a boot and you have a Jetta. Not even Fast and Furious could make a Jetta hip and down with the kids.
Anyway, having initially chosen the Mitsubishi, I set off into the streets, and it was very much business as usual. Winning races got you money, and in turn access to new parts. Buying these and nailing them to the car made it faster, you won more races and so on and so forth. Keep winning and eventually you can get introduced to a character who lets you race in Atlanta, with a similar repeated experience eventually taking place in Detroit – ol’ Motown itself. With silly powerups to unlock (like “Zone”, that allows Tuners and a few other classes to gain access to a sort of “Bullet Time” power that allows them to have more precise steering at high speed) and all the groups of vehicles having their own segments to unlock by beating their specific champions, there’s certainly a lot to go at.
There was also an online mode built into the game, but at the time I didn’t have the necessary part to allow my PS2 to go online, so I never got to experience it, sadly. I can only imagine the carnage that must have played out if playing things like Forza online is any guide.
So, there we have it. Midnight Club 3: DUB edition is 15 years old and these are my distant, dim memories of the game. Do you remember playing it? Indeed, are you old enough to remember it? Let us know in the comments as always.
If you want to play the game now then your best bet is to check out the Midnight Club: Los Angeles edition from the Xbox Store.