Reviewed on PC


Reviewed By: Josh K

Computer Platform: PC
Produced by: Microsoft
Price Range: $20-30
Learning curve time: 15 min.
Age level: 8+
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Patches / Upgrades: Yes
System Requirements: P166 or 133 w/ 4mb accel., Win95 or better, 300 MB hard drive space, 32MB RAM Double speed CD-ROM or higher

Genre: Racing SIM
Christian Rating: 5 of 5
   (nothing offensive)
Gameplay: 5 of 5
Violence: 4 of 5
   (barely present)
Adult Content: 5 of 5

Take the city of Chicago, add rush hour traffic and a small group of street racers and you have the premise behind Microsoft's "Midtown Madness".

Box for 'Midtown Madness'

Graphically, the game is absolutley marvelous, letting you race through (a portion) of Chicago, all the while weaving and dodging through traffic. Cars are reflective, pedestrians walk along the sidewalks and so on. Mailboxes spill mail when you hit them, coins scatter out of meters when you knock those over, and there's even a shopping mall which you may accidently crash through. The physics are also wonderful. The game lets you drive a variety of vehicles (there are also a number of web sites at which you can download MORE cars!) including a 1999 Ford Mustang, Ford Mustang Police Cruiser (with working lights and siren!), a 99 VW Beetle, AND a City Bus (and more…). The cars bounce on their shocks, the bodies crumple, windshields shatter. It all looks (and feels) very realistic. But most realistic is the traffic, obeying traffic signals, using turn signals, etc. If you accidently run into one, they'll yell their complaint.

Screenshot from 'Midtown Madness' And now on to the races…

The game gives you three types of races and a 'cruise' mode. The race modes include Blitz, Checkpoint, and Circuit. Blitz mode is just you, by yourself, racing through all check points in a certain preset amount of time. There will be other cars on the road however, and it will take a great deal of skill to maneuver around them. Checkpoint Race is a competition between you and other racers. Whoever makes it through all of the checkpoints first, wins! Lastly, and weakest of all, is the Circuit Race, where you and other racers must go through a 'loop' of checkpoints. Whoever finishes his laps first wins. There are no ambient 'civilian' cars present here.

One of my personal favorites is cruise mode. No checkpoints, no 'enemy' racers, just you and Chicago. After you beat a race, you can go back through and choose how much competition you will have, as well as checkpoints, weather, traffic, cops and pedestrians.

From a Christian standpoint, there's really nothing wrong with this game. Pedestrians CANNOT be hit, at all. Your car just passes through them if you happen to head toward one. Most of the time however, they just jump out of the way. I guess some people would have problems with the fact that you CAN run into other vehicles (even though, after a period of time, their damage is instantly repaired, and they move along on down the road). Also, while racing, police cruisers will sometimes chase you. Their purpose, however, is simply to destroy your vehicle. This is often humorous because they yell things like "Throw the doughnut out the window and step out of the vehicle!", etc. The other cars, if you do hit them, do not (thankfully) yell any profanity! I thought that was very professional of Microsoft.

“Midtown Madness” is my all-time favorite racing game. It's pretty difficult at times, and I suggest having a good joystick or steering wheel. So if you're in the mood for a white-nuckled racing game, look no further than "Midtown Madness"! Or, better yet, the newer updated "Midtown Madness 2"

Year of Release—1999

My kids love this game. I have never heard them laugh so much as when they madly race around the city. I did mention to them that this is not how they would someday drive on the road. They laughed and said "Oh Mom, we know, it is safe here on the screen because no one gets hurt"! Just a good clean game that you can feel relaxed letting your kids play. My Ratings: [5/5]
   —Susan Brixey, age 48

When I first played midtown madness, I thought that it was glassy and unrealistic, after playing it for a few minutes, I found it was quite addictive and fun, but after playing EA's "Need for Speed: Porsche 2000", I realised that the handling was appalling, the graphics bad, very few cars and that there was only one track, albeit with a number of different routes arround it. There are far better racing games out there, most of which have an equally high christian value, so buy one of them instead. My Ratings: [5/1]
   —Doug Chivers, age 18

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.

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