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Rockstar drives TVG down to Midnight Club's new South Central map in a pimped up lowrider...
If there's one thing that Rockstar has definitely got spot-on for Midnight Club: LA's first portion of downloadable content (entitled South Central), it's the pricing. We've already seen how the publisher is more than reasonable in its DLC pricing policy with the humongous and relatively cheap The Lost and Damned DLC for GTA IV costing a mere £13.60, and now Rockstar is set to repeat this credit crunch friendly approach with South Central.
There are two different purchasing options for the avid consumer: firstly, you can opt to download the new South Central game map completely free of charge. This will allow you to cruise the all-new streets to your heart's content and even take part in races constructed in the game's race editor that pass through regions in South Central. If, on the other hand, you are willing to fork out 800 Microsoft Points (£6.80) or the equivalent PSN price for the premium pack, then you'll be presented with a range of new races, vehicles, and custom kits.
At A Premium
If you did simply want to get the South Central map for free, then you'll be able to drive through a new area around a third the size of the game's main map that also offers environments with a bit more challenge than we've experienced previously in MC: LA (more on that later). However, a few extra quid will bring 26 new races (including 6 Blitz races), 12 battle maps, 12 delivery missions, 100 point-to-point showdowns, a new garage with fresh parts, as well as nine new cars in total with their own custom kits thrown in with the deal to.
Now, we're not particularly savvy when it comes to negotiating car prices, but we'd be pretty happy with any cockney wide-boy who offered us a bargainous deal like that at the local 'Used Motors' showroom. Whatever the case, of the nine new vehicles that South Central will boast, we managed to take a test drive with three of these cars during our hands on preview: a 64 Impala, Range Rover Sport, and Mercedes Benz CLK63 AMG.
Those of you with Midnight Club eagle-eyes will realise that this means Rockstar San Diego has decided to re-introduce the SUV car class in South Central. Although present in Midnight Club III, the SUV was notably absent from MC: LA (which was a little weird considering the overwhelming volume of them on LA streets in real life). It's inclusion with the South Central DLC certainly makes a lot of sense now though, and surely a Cadillac Escalade will be amongst the nine new vehicles when South Central is released on March 12th.
The 64 Impala we drove was also part of a new car class (namely the lowrider) for MC: LA. This is another inspired inclusion, as the lowrider has got to be the most iconic vehicle surrounding South Central LA's cultural history (think of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg riding those hydraulic infused, paint job laden 60s cars in various rap videos throughout the years as they sip on '40s' and puff on 'blunts'). These cars promise to be the most appealing vessels for the sort of outrageous customisation that Midnight Club is synonymous with. Rockstar is also promising a few exotic and muscle cars amongst the new roster.
These kinds of cultural references will be woven throughout the South Central DLC and are not merely limited to the vehicles. Rockstar has given infamous areas such as Crenshaw and Compton a hefty nod, with a few suitable landmarks and a generally grittier, urban design to the racing environment. But these additions are not merely limited to visual prominences that you'll drive past at a nitrous boasted 200mph. Extensive back alleys and industrial areas such as train yards will cater for race events with more stunts and excessive jumps, giving South Central's gameplay a more adrenaline packed punch than the main MC: LA game as a result.
Welcoming All Comers
What the DLC won't do, however, is add to the main game's story. It's a piece of downloadable content that could be just as easily added by a gamer who has just bought MC: LA at the shops, to one who has been beavering away at it since last autumn. New gameplay features such as the ability to race against up to 7 other racers for the first time are bound to improve any gamer's experience of the game, even if they've only got a third of the way through the main campaign so far.
Achievement junkies will be pleased to here that Rockstar has dished out 200 more Gamerscore points on the Xbox 360 and 10 additional trophies on PS3, while the more musically inclined MC: LA player will no doubt welcome a range of new tracks that will be released with the DLC. Once again, they will reflect the mood of South Central LA and there's even an exclusive track that will be included with the DLC as well ('Rollin Down The Freeway' by Statik Selektah, feat. Glasses Malone, Kali & Termanology).
Rockstar's model of offering the map for free and additional race content for £6.80 is more than reasonable. Only the most tightly fisted and fastidious Midnight Club fan will be disappointed by the new cars, events, and gameplay opportunities.