It has been far too long since we’ve got to play a new Midnight Club game. It has now been a decade since Rockstar San Diego released Midnight Club: Los Angeles for PS3, Xbox 360 and PSP. When its open-world racing title came out, it seemed like the natural evolution of the PS2-era street racing titles that were all the rage. The map of Los Angeles was massive (it was bigger than all three of Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition‘s cities combined), and there was more variety than ever before in terms of car customization and race types.
It wasn’t a perfect experience, though. Some of the obvious drawbacks were technical limitations as Los Angeles suffered from some poorly optimized texture loading as Rockstar’s development teams hadn’t fully figured out both systems architecture as they would show with Grand Theft Auto 5. The narrative was another disappointment, especially when one considers how highly regarded Rockstar became for their storytelling over the past generation of titles.
Midnight Club: Los Angeles was very much a game that moved its niche within the racing genre forward but didn’t truly innovate within it. In other words, it was an entry that begs for one more sequel. Rockstar San Diego clearly had a great grasp on the basics, but its best possible racing title is still yet to be developed. As such, I believe that now would be a great time to see a new Midnight Club game for a variety of reasons.
A New Midnight Club Game Caters to an Ignored Audience
One of the biggest reasons why a new Midnight Club game would make sense is that the racing game market has changed drastically since 2008. While there used to be plenty of competition and yearly Need for Speed games catering towards street racing, that genre space eventually got bloated. The industry has now gone in the opposite direction as there are plenty of great simulation racing titles and adventure-driven open-world racers like Forza Horizon and The Crew (that try to recreate vast amounts of off-road land in addition to a few cities). However, there are no major street racing titles to speak of currently. The games were clearly popular for a reason, and now a nostalgic release that recaptures what was so special about the PS2 games could see a huge success similar to how Call of Duty: WW2 appealed to a formerly saturated market.
The only real competition is Electronic Arts’ Need for Speed series, which has been in a consistent identity crisis over the past decade. The series has tried everything from arcade-filled racers to its own type of simulation racing, and EA even did its best Fast & Furious impression with last year’s Need for Speed Payback. Despite all these attempts, they haven’t been able to recapture the magic that drew over 10 million players to purchase Need for Speed: Underground in 2003. A new Midnight Club game that focused on what has been missing from the recent entries in Ghost Games’ series could find an audience eager to experience that type of title again.
What lapsed Need for Speed fans have repeatedly talked about wanting was a deep layer of customization, a story that was grounded in reality, and satisfying gameplay that has players experiencing the thrills of street racing. Thankfully for Rockstar, Midnight Club ticks all of those boxes without having to be altered at all. The fan demand is clearly there, and knowing how talented Rockstar San Diego is, the game could even kickstart a fresh resurgence of non-simulation car racing games.
Why It Could Be Something Special
With Red Dead Redemption 2 finally seeing release this month, that means that development resources will become available for Rockstar’s San Diego studio, which has traditionally handled the racing series. Considering the studio has spent the majority of its last decade working on and supporting open-world action games, it seems that a take on a different genre would be a welcomed change. Luckily, there are some lessons that can be learned from its recent releases that could be used on a new Midnight Club game.
The biggest area that Rockstar San Diego has shown growth in is with regards to its storytelling. While the story in Midnight Club: Los Angeles was generic, Rockstar flexed its ability to tell a meaningful tale with 2010’s Red Dead Redemption. By incorporating this sort of character work and well-written dialogue into a racer, a new Midnight Club game could boast a captivating story within the constraints of a racing game without resorting towards unnecessary theatrics.
Two other areas that the developer has clearly improved upon is both world design and creating captivating multiplayer experiences. Online racing games have continually become a more communal experience over time and getting to drive around a detailed city with friends could make for a compelling experience. These are all areas where Rockstar San Diego is uniquely qualified, as no other studio has such a decorated history of making great racing games and crafting huge worlds. The studio has the ability to craft something truly special. Hopefully, we’ll all get to see just what it is truly capable of as the time is now for a new Midnight Club game.