LGR – Midtown Madness – PC Game Review
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LGR – Midtown Madness – PC Game Review

September 7, 2019


[typing] You know, one of my favorite video
game genres is the racing game. And one of my favorite things to happen
to the genre is the addition of the open world. So today I’d like to take a look at one
of the earliest games that I remember to add those two things together. Microsoft Midtown Madness: Chicago Edition, developed by Angel Studios and published by Microsoft in 1999 for Windows PCs. Of course, this wasn’t the first open
world racing game by any means. You had games like Spectrum HoloByte’s Vette! doing similar things back in 1989, for instance. But this was the first game of
its type I’d seen at the time and it was nothing short of mind-blowing to me. “Say Goodbye To Gridlock.” “Run every stop sign,” “drive the wrong way.” “Now that’s racin’ Chicago style!” And having actually driven around
Chicagoland on several occasions, I can say that’s not just racing Chicago style, but driving Chicago style, in general. Inside the box, you get the game on a very blue CD-ROM, and a jewel case booklet, which contains some basic information about the game, though the meat of the info is
included on-disc as a help file. It also has a small map of the
city in the center of the booklet, but the in-game map is far more useful, so if you’re referring to this during
gameplay, you’re doing it wrong. Typically, I’d start off by showing the
game’s startup sequence at this point. But I’ve just gotta mention the
installation here, because it’s awesome. Instead of a typical status bar, you get to see a Panoz Roadster being painted while other vehicles of the game
drive by in the foreground. Seriously, whatever happened to creative installers? I could do a whole video on these. Maybe I will, but for now, Midtown Madness begins with
some logos and a splash screen. followed by the main menu, and one of several awesome
and funky tunes in the game. [funk music] From here, you can choose from three modes: Quick Race, Single Player and Multiplayer, as well as change the options
and view any saved race records. The options are pretty standard, but I like going back and looking at the graphics options and remember how much of
a bragging right it used to be to be able to turn up everything to the max and still have this game run well. Mmm… AGP textures, reflections and clip distance sliders. Oh, yeaaahhh… Choosing Quick Race does what you’d expect. It drops you into a race as quickly as possible, only letting you select a car and its settings. But if you want to get the full experience, go to Single Player straightaway. Here you create a driver profile
and choose your difficulty, then select from four different race types: Cruise, Blitz Race, Checkpoint Race and Circuit Race. It’s a good idea to start off with
Cruise to get your bearings first, and all modes take place on the same map of Chicago. Though with the game being subtitled “Chicago Edition,” and there being a button for race locales, you’d think there would be more places to drive, like through an expansion or something. But unfortunately there were no such packs or downloads officially released
for the game that added any. Anyway, you still have Chicago and you have the option to change
five parameters in races that support it: time of day, weather, and the densities
of traffic vehicles, pedestrians and cops. On the next page, you’re given the option
to choose from the game’s ten vehicles, and these vary from city buses to muscle cars to the Panoz GTR-1 racecar and then-new Volkswagen Beetle. Each of them have their expected
strengths and weaknesses, as shown by their status bars, and only a handful of them are unlocked at first. You gotta play more races to get more stuff. You can even look at showcases for each car, just in case you want more
information on things that don’t matter as far as gameplay goes. And you can also adjust the physics realism, which is insanely useful, as you’ll see shortly. NARRATOR:
Get ready to take a cruise t’rough da Windy City! See all the sights o’ da beautiful city o’ Chicago… LGR:
Ah, yes, the game has a narrator that chimes in every so often voiced by Marty Lennartz, a DJ for Chicago’s 93.1 WXRT rock radio station. But for the most part, it’s just you,
the car and the Chicago Loop. And, yes, the game takes place primarily
in the city’s central business district, as well as a few surrounding areas
on both sides of the Chicago River. From a basic approximation of I-90/I-94 to the west, to a basic approximation of
Lake Shore Drive to the east. You’ve got several notable landmarks to explore, like Navy Pier, the Field Museum, Wrigley Field, Soldier Field, [LGR, distant]
Daaaa Bears… the Sears Tower, and on and on. If you’re pretty familiar with the city, though, you’ll note that the map isn’t exactly to scale and is missing quite a few streets. Another thing is that the Loop looks a lot brighter and… well, less cluttered than the real deal, though that’s just to be expected
due to late-’90s hardware restrictions. And finally, some things are
just changed around completely. For example, the Picasso sculpture
is nowhere to be found in Daley Plaza on West Washington Street. Instead, you have Calder’s Flamingo there, which in real life is found a few
blocks south on West Adams. So it takes some creative liberties
with the layout of the Loop, presumably for the purposes of gameplay,
performance optimization and artistic license. And being from 1999,
you have some timepieces to explore, like the lack of Millennium Park within Grant Park, and the existence of the now-demolished
Meigs Field Airport south of Adler Planetarium. That’s the aesthetics and whatnot.
As for the gameplay itself? Well, let’s just say having the word
“madness” in the title was no accident. Of all the Microsoft games to carry the Madness suffix, this is easily the most deserving
due to the sheer chaos you can cause. Smash into cars, run from the cops, destroy all sorts of public property, jump the drawbridges while they’re up, play chicken with airplanes on the runway, crash through glass windows, and try your best to run over pedestrians, even though you can’t and that always annoyed me. Some other maniacal aspects of the game are the physics and car handling, and, yeah, these aren’t exactly positive. Remember that Physics Realism slider from earlier? In theory, it represents the range of
physics from arcade to simulation, but that’s just not the case. In cruise mode, it’s not such a big deal, but in the actual races where
you’re trying to unlock new cars, it’s a real pain sometimes. Each of the vehicles have their own physics models, so the slider affects them differently and it’s not always good. I mean, seriously, what the heck is this? Other times it affects them TOO much and you end up with either mad oversteer or mad understeer. It’s made especially worse by playing with a keyboard, since the game simulates turning
the wheel all the way around the longer you hold a direction. Maybe that’s why the game actually
defaults to the mouse or a joystick, since you NEED an analog
controller to get the most from it, preferably a racing wheel. That’s not to say it sucks, though, since I certainly got used to it back in the day and still have a lot of fun with it now. And although I spend most of my time in Cruise mode, the other race types provide all sorts of challenges for when that inevitably gets boring. Blitz Race is a straight-up
point-to-point dash across town with several checkpoints along the way and a very stingy time limit. Checkpoint Races are interesting in
that you don’t have any set route to take. You’re given a number of checkpoints to pass through and a bunch of opponents to race against, but it’s a total free-for-all,
as far as reaching them, and whoever gets them all first wins. And Circuit Races are your straightforward
races around a pre-determined circuit, laid out in various places around Chicago with barriers blocking off the track. One thing to keep in mind throughout all this is that there’s a damage model
which varies for each car, so it’s entirely possible to damage out of a race and either lose by default
or get hit with a time penalty. Combine that with the silliness of the physics and the chaotic nature of the AI, and you’ve got a racing game
that is just as UNpredictable as the Cubs’ World Series potential IS predictable. This extended to the multiplayer as well, and you can play via all the main
connection options of the day. The big draw here was that you could
also play Cops & Robbers mode, in addition to the regular race types. Play as either a cop or a robber
with a car filled with gold and try to get away while the
other tries to take you down. And while I thought all of this was great in 1999, I must admit it hasn’t aged very well in many ways. Unlike some genres, racing games have come a long way
in their replayability and their options, and this feels pretty simplistic in comparison. That said, it was insanely special to me back in the day, not only because of the gameplay
and the open world aspect, but because Chicago. There’s just something about the place,
and there always has been for me. being able to explore it virtually before
visiting it in real life was just awesome. I spent countless hours memorizing
the streets and landmarks in this game just because I was enthralled with the city. And, yes, also because I could tear through
it in a sports car at 150 miles an hour, but largely because it was just a special place to me. And finally, I’d be remiss not to mention some of the other things that made the game special, like cheat codes. ‘Cause, man, I just miss silly cheat codes and Midtown Madness has plenty. Nothing like going around in a utility van or an airliner with low gravity, almost no friction, giant pedestrians, shooting mailboxes at everything
and UFOs flying through the air. And as if the game wasn’t ridiculously
filled with ridiculousness enough, you could also mod the game. Very easily. There were countless mods for it, allowing you to add new vehicles, new features, and even new locations to the game by simply dropping a few files
into the base installation directory. You could go as realistic or as
fantastical as you could dream up, with things as inappropriate as a
monster truck roaming throughout the city, to something as fictional yet appropriate as the Blues Brothers’ Dodge Monaco. Oh, yeah, a game where you can
crash through the mall in that thing is only the best thing ever, as far as I’m concerned. ELWOOD [on megaphone]:
“The fabulous… Blues Brothers!” “Rhythm and blues revue!” And that’s pretty much it for Midtown Madness. It was a gorgeous game back in 1999, it played pretty well, it had a huge map for the time, it had a great modding community, and due to its real-world setting,
it stood out from the crowd. While it may not hold a candle to
open world racing games of today, for its time it was an absolute blast to play. It was quite the success as well, earning two sequels, and also allowing Angel Studios to go on and develop the Midnight Club racing game series, eventually leading to them
becoming Rockstar San Diego. There’s a good reason this game is fondly remembered by many PC gamers nowadays, and good reason why I still go
back to play it every so often. It’s just freakin’ fun. And with the exception of a few other games like Driver, it really existed in a league of its own. It’s a shame it’s so difficult to get
running properly on modern hardware, especially if you want to use 3D acceleration. But I’d still highly recommend
grabbing a copy if you run across it, as it’s worth a look, even if it’s
kind of a pain to get working. Now, if you’ll excuse me, [Chicago accent]
there’s some fantastic Polish
sausages with my name on ’em. If you enjoyed this video and would like to see some more videos on things like this, and not quite like this at all, why not click some of these
things to see some of them? And check me out on Twitter and Facebook, and support me on Patreon if you want to, and a bunch of that cool stuff,
too, ’cause it’s all there. Oh, yeah, and you can subscribe,
because this YouTube or something. And as always, thanks for watching.

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  1. This was my favourite game when i was in primary school, i think grade 3 or 4 and onwards… I would spend hours just driving around in my yellow mustang 😃 i absolutely loved this game 🙏🏽

  2. OMG this is the game i played at my friends house during 2005 and i couldn't ever remmeber the name of it nor he did.. It really really left me a good taste back then since i always liked driving inside the car.. POV

  3. I remember having this, borrowing to one of the primary school mates and never seeing it again 🙁

  4. Once the game was loaded you could change out the game disc with an audio disc and drive around town while playing your favorite songs.

  5. I remember my parents bought me a PS2 and the only game I got was Midnight Club. I was disappointed because I really wanted Vice City.

  6. I grew up playing this game back in early 2000. It was so much different from the usual Need for speed franchise. Not to forget this game ran surprisingly well even on a Pentium 1 200mhz, 32 MB RAM with 1MB graphics card.

  7. I'm always surprised by how good I remember these games looking and how they actually looked years later. I played this when I was in highschool and I remember how realistic the cars looked, how the city was so awesome, and really pulled you in. I remember that the streets were full of detail.
    Looking at it now I can't believe it's the same game.

  8. Wow this takes me back, I think this game is why I later on absolutely fell in love with GTA III for the PS2.

  9. My first pc game on my Windows XP, back in 2008 i was just 8 years old then, pc games and NES were my childhood.

  10. Back when PC games were shipped in pizza boxes.
    I bought the game but could not play it correctly. It ran so choppy and pausy. Serious driver issues.

  11. man those days would never come again.. kids these days would never know how gaming was like 15 years ago i miss my childhood 😫😫

  12. I remember playing this game for like straight six hours at my cousin's house just free roaming, get close to the plane in the distance, tryna run over people xD

  13. Finally ,I played this alot but I was very young so didn't knew name and now I know after so many years XD

  14. One of the first PC games that I remember playing as a kid. Had a Pentium 3 computer with a 40GB hard disk drive, 512MB RAM and a graphics card (can't remember the name of it) with 64mb of VRAM 😂

  15. Used to play it on
    Intel celeron
    256mb ram.
    Xp windows.
    No gfx.
    Can't play on i3-6th gen, 8gb ram, 2gb graphics (game lags)
    WTF!

  16. I tried to kill the people by car, but none of them r getting killed, they’re escaping easily by jumping or leaning to the wall 😂

  17. In races I always clogged the highway with my truck so the AI would ram against it and break their cars, and then I could reach the finish line without any pressure.

  18. I had forgotten this game. It was a real gem and I remember how amazed I was with it's supreme graphics. God I feel old now

  19. And the cops ddnt do shit
    Cockpit view was so cool at the time
    Loved the game btw hours and hours lol

  20. oh my god! i used to play this so much as a kid, and pretend to be the blues brothers, i had no idea about modding! your a man after my own heart!

  21. thanks a lot for the video, there was this childhood friend i used to have and i completely forgot about him but know i remembered him again because i once played this game at his place.

  22. I played driver 2 and when i see chicago its like i have already been there. a lot of places are very good detailed

  23. Since the franchise is long dead and the trademark has been cancelled, any developer can make a Midtown Madness 4 and revive the franchise! Unreal, Unity, Godot, take your pick! https://trademarks.justia.com/781/57/midtown-madness-78157971.html

  24. 😃Haha I remember playing this game as a kid. I got a gigantic nostalgia rush when I clicked this video!

  25. it was hilarious when my car hold still and cars goes around me and hits light post and then bunch of cars in front of me

    I hope I get to play this game again

  26. This game was the first game I’ve ever played except for the DS but this game was my childhood bro even tho I’m a 06 I played this game until like kindergarten then I switched to the ps2 then quickly ps3 I’m on PS4 now but this game is amazing, I’d die to just play it again.

  27. It was awesome back then. Loved the bus, drive against the traffic, block the road and have all the opponent cars crash and win by default 😂

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