So I'm reading Catcher in the Rye and playing Midnight Club: Los Angeles and the two works of fiction are interesting juxtapositions. I have found that Catcher in the Rye's protagonist Holden Caulfield and I have something in common: we hate phonies. MCLA is a wolf in sheep's clothing. It's exterior will repulse you and effectively hides it's brilliance.
MCLA masquerades as a soulless street racer akin to the Need for Speed for series. Yes the story and dialogue is dated and forgettable, the characters rely strongly on offensive stereotypes and the soundtrack features Kanye West. Further to that, the usual Rockstar (Developer of Grand Theft Auto) sense of humour is completely absent from MCLA, the satirical nature of their previous efforts lays buried under the unbearable weight of in-game advertising.
The action however, is where the soul is in MCLA. The sensation of speed is genuine and heart-starting. The traffic patterns and AI opponents will torment you, stealing victory from your clutches metres from the finish line. I can not stress how difficult this game is. In my last race this evening I was nearly reduced to tears as my computer controlled opponent bullied me into a head on collision which cost me 8 minutes of my life. Often you will hear your competition yell at you through your T Mobile sponsored Sidekick that "One mistake is all it takes son!" And they're right, it is freaking painfully, brutally difficult and I am apparently playing through the "Easy," races.
I just wish that MCLA would be honest with me. Drop the purposeless narrative. Drop the inordinate use of the words dog, son and player (pronounced: play-a). Remove the in-game advertising. I would have been happy to launch races from a menu instead of waiting for my homies to hit me up with some missions on my Sidekick eh dogz?
I don't think I'll have the patience to complete Midnight Club: Los Angeles and regrettably, I don't believe I will play for long enough to build an online-worthy ride. What you need to know however is that the racing action is solid and while the presentation may be lacking you may find a lot here that you will like.