Games

If Midnight Club returns, it’s time – Take-Two is sitting on a gem of the franchise

In an age of triple-A publishers hoarding major franchises, it’s rare to see any IP that has preceded success more than a few years without a new entry or reboot. It’s even stranger to watch such a franchise sit around collecting dust in a publisher’s catalog for over a decade without being reactivated or sold off to fund other projects. However, this is exactly where Midnight Club The series, once a staple in the library of any racing game fan, has found itself in. Forgotten and left to rot.

That is, until January 2022, when Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick mentioned the series in an investor call announcing the company’s acquisition of Zynga, where he listed Midnight Club as a franchise. Take-Two’s biggest rights.

As a fan, I was surprised to learn that Zelnick even knew he still had the keys to the Midnight Club in his back pocket. I’m certainly not alone either, as the name has inspired a new wave of speculation about a revival for the street racing series, intensifying upon the discovery of job listings at the Visual Con Concept studio. owned by Take-Two, looking for a producer to work on “an unannounced, open-world driving game with a master license”.

Caught by this hype, I decided to fire up my PS3 and surf back to the sunlit streets in the series’ most recent entry – 2008. Midnight Club: Los Angeles — with the goal of assessing whether there is still room for Midnight Club in a racing game landscape that has changed so much since the days of widespread financial devastation and Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed A Girl’.

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In 2022, the game certainly offers an enjoyable mid-2000s, from its car roster with Fast and Furious movie props, to its soundtrack loaded with Noughties and artists. Some great snippets about product placement like the T-Mobile Sidekick, in the game-phone, look more like a pager than a modern smartphone.

To me, all this retro furniture evokes fond memories of first playing the game as a teenager, showcasing skills that were carefully honed in Need For Speed ​​​​Underground 2. I might not have been good at many other games back then, but in Midnight Club, I owned the streets, even if – in hindsight – this was only because they didn’t have live players. skilled line.

The fact that I can shield myself from the oppressing reality of online play without much effort is testament to the most classic aspect of Midnight Club: Los Angeles, when compared to current arcade racers. such as Forza Horizon 5 and Need For Speed ​​Heat. It prioritizes traditional single-player above all else, a philosophy that gives it a distinctly classic feel and is a little fresh in today’s age of live-serve games. Sadly, any modern Midnight Club revival cannot adopt the same properties. Tragically, it’s also unlikely to include any Burnout Paradise-style split-screen multiplayer modes. For better or for worse, online multiplayer is the order of the day and – to be honest – it’s an area where I consider Midnight Club a franchise with untapped potential. .

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Imagine this. An open-world map featuring car clubs consisting of players, competing against each other in a series of races across town, chased by waves of police armed with an arsenal of stolen weapons. Need For Speed ​​Hot Pursuit inspiration includes spiked bands, barricades and EMP blasts. Something like that could appeal to the kind of dedicated player base that has made Take-Two’s GTA Online such a big earner over the past decade. The irony, however, is that the idea of ​​a new Midnight Club game is trying to appeal to a similar audience to GTA Online.

For many Midnight Club fans, incorporating in-depth vehicle customization into Grand Theft Auto in 2013 was one of the first signs of trouble for the Midnight Club franchise. After all, if Rockstar (and the Take-Two extension) can use one of Midnight Club’s biggest selling points to boost the monetization of what’s already their most lucrative franchise, , then why would they bother investing in another entry for the series? In retrospect, this change had serious consequences not only for Midnight Club but also for the arcade racing genre.

When Midnight Club: Los Angeles hit shelves in 2008, the racing genre was flooded with arcade-style games. In the span of that year alone, Burnout Paradise, Need For Speed ​​Undercover, Racedriver: GRID, and MotorStorm: Pacific Rift were also released – each offering slightly different iterations of the arcade formula. Of those four franchises, two are essentially dead. The other two have experienced a tumultuous decade characterized by mediocre reboots, in the form of Need For Speed ​​(2015) and GRID (2019). Rebooting games of any genre is always risky (for every DOOM or Tomb Raider, there’s SimCity), and while either NFS or GRID’s effort doesn’t end too badly, neither does it. only attracted mixed reviews and largely failed to regain interest from fans.

At the same time, coveted slots at the top of the deflationary arcade racing genre are being taken over by GTA Online and Microsoft’s Forza games, while other established racing franchises like Gran Turismo design themselves to profit from a boom in sim racing hobbies – led by iRacing, Assetto Corsa and rfactor.

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Finding a place in this landscape for the new Midnight Club is certainly a daunting proposition but, if that happens, learning from the mistakes of living contemporaries is a must. For example, both Need For Speed ​​and GRID receive backlash from fans whenever they prioritize delivering a superior story over good and consistent racing gameplay. So perhaps a more authentic story of ordinary people looking for an adrenaline rush to break the brutal monotony of everyday life is the ticket to success – especially since it has could provide an alternative to the ever-optimistic and melodramatic narratives of the Forza Horizon games.

Speaking of Forza Horizon, I think any ambition to instantly turn Midnight Club into a series like the current king of arcade racing should be countered. While the Forza game has enjoyed mainstream success by combining all professions, providing a shallower range of experiences rather than specializing in any one area, one of Midnight’s main strengths Club is that it has always focused specifically on street racing. Originally taking its name from a group of real-life Japanese street racers, the series has won over all fans with its simple formula that allows you to glide through crowded streets at the wheel of a Nissan Skyline with sophisticated bodykit, surrounded by police sirens and relentlessly chasing the pink track of a poor punk horse.

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Midnight Club deserves a reboot now. Perhaps it could offer something unique and provide the nitrous oxide boost needed to re-activate the once-prosperous genre. Or maybe it will clearly demonstrate that the gaming world has shifted from tank racers filled with tribal tattoos and dazzling neon lights. Either way, I’d rather find an answer than keep watching a series of movies where I love sitting and collecting dust.

https://www.vg247.com/midnight-club-comeback-take-two If Midnight Club returns, it’s time – Take-Two is sitting on a gem of the franchise

Fry Electronics Team

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