Thankfully the cars themselves look decent enough, and display some really nice lighting and reflections. It's a shame there's no real damage modelling - the only sign you've been driving your beauty like a psychotic dodgem operator is the odd scratch or broken windscreen. That said, you shouldn't have much cause for this thanks to the excellent handling physics. Even the relatively basic models hold the road well at speed; drop a few inches and slap on some decent tyres however, and they'll grip harder than a chav girl's scrunchie. This again adds to the immediate accessibility of the title, and at these ridiculous speeds, is a godsend. Rain-drenched races are a tad trickier, where the wet results in a significant loss of traction, and some comical smashes. To complement this, each class has a special move, which, when pulled off at just the right time, is a race-clinching moment of goodness (see Night Moves, page 071). In a refreshing touch, AI enemies aren't pre-programmed to take the same route through a level, so races are never the same. Either incredibly frustrating (if you're on the receiving end of vicious shunt from behind) or immensely satisfying (sending them careering into the central reservation), their fallible nature is a great touch. The majority of roadside scenery is destructible, though the pathetic puff of leaves as you plough unaffected through the council's foliage efforts is disappointing.
Aside from the substantial career mode, MC3 offers up a huge arcade mode. You can choose to race any unlocked track using any of the vehicles
in your garage, purely for fun. One step better than this is the fantastic multiplayer, where up to eight players can duke it out over any unlocked, gorgeously lunar-lit lap. There are tons of game modes on offer, including Capture the Flag, Tag and Paint. With full Xbox Live capabilities, this should be an absolute blast online. You can even take custom tracks from the Race Editor online and challenge other racers - it's a fantastic and virtually limitless option.
In its effort to become an accessible, purely arcade racer, MC3 is a resounding success. Your car is virtually indestructible (a token health meter is largely redundant - to inflict any serious damage you'll need to drive like a myopic Eddie Irvine for the entire race), so any notion of careful driving gets thrown straight through the front windscreen. This will prove a real boon to the majority of gamers, but if you're after something even remotely sim-like, steer well clear.
That said, take Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition for precisely what it is, and you've got an extremely fast, and more importantly, very fun racer. If you're burned out from other racers yet still have a hankering need for speed, this slick street racer should be right up your alley. Chuck in the countless car-tweaking and customising options and brilliant multiplayer modes, and it easily slipstreams ahead of the other modding racers around.
Slick, stylish and great fun. Screams off the grid with a ton of modding options and a throbbing engine of multiplayer goodness.