Russian Modders found a way to get Motor City Online running offline

A huge throwback today, and there may be quite a few of you who don’t remember this game:

MCOWikipedia writes that Motor City Online was a massively multiplayer online racing game released by Electronic Arts on October 29, 2001. The point of the game was to buy classic cars (mostly American muscle cars) ranging from 1930’s to 1970’s models, customize them, and race them against other players. The game was taken offline on August 29, 2003 so EA Games could focus on their current online game at the time, The Sims Online. Originally conceived as part of the Need for Speed series under the title Need for Speed: Motor City, all single player elements that may have been developed for the game were discarded in favor of an online-only model. The game featured some RPGlements, such as leveling up after completing tasks, and a functional, supply and demand economy for players to get involved in.

It was an online-only version of Need for Speed High Stakes, with classic muscle cars, a Forza-like storefront, and when it went offline, you couldn’t play it anymore. Customization played a huge role in Motor City Online – with over 2,000 authentic and licensed styling and performance parts, each player was tasked with building their car from the ground up, sometimes mixing and matching parts like one would do in Forza nowadays to prep the car for a certain class.

For those who still have the original CD kicking around, a Russian Mod team has built a launcher to run the game in an offline state, allowing you to try a portion of the game, sans MMO elements of course, on a modern PC. While you won’t be able to customize your car, buy upgrades, join car clubs, or participate in 90% of the activities which made Motor City Online unique, being able to check out the full roster of cars and tracks in Quick Race mode serves as a nice throwback to a title that paved the way for much larger MMO racers such as Test Drive Unlimited and Forza Horizon.

Ultimately, the online-only format lead to the game’s downfall. This was the early 2000’s, where lag was a major issue in all online games, and despite a reported peak of 36,000 active subscribers (a huge amount for an experimental title that deviated away from standard racers at the time), the game was killed off, with active members rewarded with a membership to either The Sims Online, Ultima Online, or Earth and Beyond.

Thanks EA.

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7 thoughts on “Russian Modders found a way to get Motor City Online running offline

  1. I remember this. I bought this out of a software etc. when it first hit the shelves based on the box art and hype surrounding it. I had a second hand windows 98 laptop I didn’t even know what to do with and I had never been on the internet before in my life. So I ended up returning it the next day.

    Oddly enough, the next sim cd to spin in that laptop of mine was hasbros ‘nascar heat’ which had a huge mod community backing for a few years. Eventually somebody ported just about every model from motor city online over to ‘heat’ and dubbed it ‘motor city heat’ –

    http://jdesignz.proboards.com/

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  2. Without looking too closely at it – this looks like a copy of the old MCO offline beta. This was an initial, rudimentary attempt at getting part of MCO working again.

    The author listed, “racingfreak”, didn’t actually do much of the work. He caused a bit of a flap by taking the work and posting it as his own. This russian site is most likely just hosting the files, I doubt they did any of the work.

    There was a later project called that also ran in an offline state, but added back in car customization and some support for time trials. I’m a member of the site there and have played this version, but I’m not sure that I’m free to give out the details.

    Also, on another ex-MCO player forum I’m a member of, there have been some guys who have (as of earlier this year) figured out how to make the login portion of MCO work…sort of. By reverse engineering Earth & Beyond’s login services (which is still alive via private server) they’ve managed to pass login information through the MCO client – though of course it has no server to connect to. They’re trying to get what they need on that end, which IF THEY DO could eventually lead to the creation of a functional server. There’s a LONG way to go before that could happen though.

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  3. I took part of the free beta period during 2000-2001. This game still is the best car game ever. I would donate for kickstarter if someone would seriously try to bring the game and servers back online. Using virtual servers it could be doable with reasonable running costs…

    Its really wierd business policy from EA. Monthly fee was 10$ if I remember correctly. With 36000 subscribers that would total 4.3M$ annually. By selling stupid offline bling bling racing games they got their revenue once and with MCO they would have gotten revenue for 14 years straight 😀 ok maybe the game would have gotten boring but the thrill factor was really good when you drove pink slips or tried to hunt down some rare parts for the engine etc

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  4. MCO revival page exist on Facebook also a change.org petition is up and running with 200 signatures, also check out street Rod 3 on Facebook aswell similar game idea different name and more detailed concept

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  5. I was so mad at EA I still boycott them. $10 a month subscription to play after buying the game for $60. I played the two years it was online. It was the coolest racing game I ever played. There are/were a few different groups working on a similar game but nothing has really happened due to funding.

    EA offered me a copy of SIms 2 as a consolation prize when they took the server down. that was their reason: they needed the server space to dedicate to Sims. FUCK YOU EA, I will never buy another EA product again as I haven’t ever since.

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