But Does It Get the Chicks?

Nobody is a backseat driver when you play together through a network. It's the perfect opportunity for both of you to settle those arguments you have in the car about one another's driving.

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Your free will gets exercised with your choice of car, too: You can get behind the wheel of officially licensed versions of the Ford Mustang Fastback, Audi TT, Aston Martin DB7 Vantage, and VW New Beetle, plus fire trucks and city buses (the double-decker type in London). Since their size makes the latter vehicles harder to control, playing with them makes the already crazy world of Midtown Madness 2 even more chaotic. Every vehicle has a car horn, but, like the brakes, it's a feature you probably won't bother with much.


When you're playing alone, there are three different ways to race: In Blitz Races, you speed to all the checkpoints designated in the city before the clock runs out. Checkpoint Races is similar except that other vehicles, driven by the computer, compete against you to reach these checkpoints. Circuit Races is a traditional racing game where cross streets in the city are blocked off to form a circular track for you and your computer-operated opponents to race on.

Two training modes called Crash Courses help you build up your driving skills. The London Crash Course casts you as a London cabdriver trainee who needs to learn how to weave through obstacles and speed from landmark to landmark. In the San Francisco Crash Course, you're taught the unsafe driving skills seen in movie chase scenes -- losing the cops, leaping off ramps and ramming into other cars are part of the lesson plan here.

Up to eight people can compete in multiplayer versions of the single-play races, either on a LAN or on the Internet. There's an additional game exclusive to multiplayer that's quite fun: Everybody races to pick up a gold bar located somewhere in the city. If you manage to grab it, you have to take it back to your hideout while eluding your opponents. A team-play version of this contest divides the players into two groups that compete to grab the most gold bars for their team.

Anyone who has navigated the streets of San Francisco or London will appreciate how faithfully the cities have been reproduced in this game. For me, it's probably best that this game didn't exist before my first visit to San Francisco, or I'd be a smear on the side of a cable car.

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Howard Wen is a frequent contributor to Playboy.com.

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