Midnight Club LA and the Arcade-Sim Racing Balance

I've been playing some Midnight Club LA over the past few days and it's had me thinking about the racer debate of sim versus arcade driving and tuning styles. Unless you are a Gran Turismo or Forza, at some point you are making a choice to plant yourself on a scale somewhere between the extremes (placing the likes of Daytona firmly up the arcade end of the spectrum — zero car tuning or choice, just slam peddles pedals and steer like hell).

Ignoring the frustrations of AI that almost never crashes, and certainly never makes a wrong turn (I largely agree with the US review, though more weight given to the 'love' column — really enjoying the game, but it can get frustrating when a single mistake can often cost you a race), it is clear that Rockstar has targeted a very balanced position in the arcade-sim spectrum. Tuning vehicles is quite easy, but as funds trickle into your garage you do want to carefully choose which upgrades to buy and when to buy them — getting the right performance enhancement with that spare $600 can definitely help win your next race when the competition is tough. But you can also auto upgrade and leave the next choice up to the system.

The best part of what MC LA has achieved is that you can feel the difference in vehicles when you drive them, and that is something that has often only been found in the sims. The tweaks may be simple, but you can appreciate that you have upgraded the car you are driving, and that is where you actually feel rewarded.

Any racing fans out there with their preferred position on the curve? If the tuning system is 'dumbed down', would you prefer it wasn't there at all? Or are true racing sims dead to you?


    I've always preferred Rally when it comes to driving games, and not necessarily the full sim experience. One of the reasons is exactly what you mention: You can feel the difference between the cars.

    It's probably far more pronounced in Rally due to the greater variety of challenges presented by the courses. Light, nimble cars with lower top speeds and weaker frames can compete equally with the bulkier sedans, but both can be driven well to victory.

    There's something about circuit racing that seems to lose that sense, for me. Often the variety of cars on offer can be whittled down to a short list of cars worth driving, with the rest just being unable to really compete.

    Psst, Seamus! I think 'peddles' should be 'pedals', as in "zero car tuning or choice, just slam peddles and steer like hell". 'Peddles' is a verb (e.g. he peddles his wares down at the market) whereas 'pedals' is a noun (bike pedals, car pedals etc).

    Man, how lame was that? Thanks for picking that up! I'll try to only write when my brain is functional in future. ;-)

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