Midtown Madness 2

You probably shouldn’t drive like this in real life.

Destroying property seems to be a favorite pastime of computer gamers. Some like to blow it up with hand held ordnance, others prefer to cause carnage behind the wheel of an automobile. Midtown Madness 2 takes racing mayhem to the streets by putting you in two new real world locations to tear up the town.

So much of the game is still locked on start-up.On the whole, Midtown Madness 2 is mostly about expanding the original. The same game engine is used but a good increase in racing opportunities and a more forgiving difficulty makes this version better. As a sequel to the first game, you will find similar challenges with some new extras thrown in, the biggest change being the increase in real estate. This time you’ll get to access two cities – fly down the hills of San Francisco just like in stunt films or navigate the narrow twisting streets of London. As with the first game, both cities here are nicely built.

Twenty drivable vehicles are included (eleven are carryovers from the previous version) and six race types (the single-player “Crash Course” is new). The cities are superbly rendered, though not in the literal sense; individual graphic elements in the game aren’t particularly impressive, but taken as a whole the overall game is attractive. While not exact replicas, they do a terrific job at conveying the overall flavor of the cities. Residents, or people that have visited the cities, will be able to pick out all of the major landmarks, such as Coit Tower, the Transamerica Pyramid, and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and Trafalgar Square, the Royal Albert Hall and Big Ben in London (but what’s up with London cops driving Mustangs?).

The single-player race modes are considerably easier than they were in the first game, though you’re still stuck with the slightly schizoid computer opponents (which seem to all have very fixed paths through each race) and kamikaze cops that are more hazardous to the denizens of the city than you could ever be (thankfully they’re slightly less omnipotent than they were in the first game). You can still use Cruise Mode to do banzai runs around the cities, with little regard for property or human life. The Blitz, Checkpoint, and Circuit racing modes are all variations on a theme; race along different routes in the cities hitting markers. Some are fixed routes (with shortcuts) while others are free-for-alls through the cities. Multiplayer includes the entertaining “Cops and Robbers,” a game where one (or more) players try to steal gold bars while others are ramming them with cop cars.

4_1The game’s physics modelling is just as laughable, though it does not claim realism. Hitting  obstacles or ramming into buildings will eventually damage your car, but props don’t have that much mass overall. When you crash into ongoing traffic, it feels more like a bowling ball hitting wooden pins,. The handling and damage modelling are equally arcadey, and haven’t much improved since the original. But because of the innate appeal of driving through cars, trees and newspaper stands, Midtown Madness 2 feels like the best game in the world – for a few days at least.

System Requirements: Pentium 166 MHz, 32 MB RAM, 300 MB HDD, SVGA, Windows 95

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