Midnight Club is a street-racing-based Racing video game series created by Rockstar San Diego - formelly know as Angel Studios and creators of the Midtown Madness franchise. The series includes the following titles:
The games feature examples of the following tropes:
Artistic License - Cars: A strange case; while cars do have different drivetrains, every game past the first game does not feature 4WD. The second game introduced the "Burnout" ability, and would obviously not work with 4WD, so any actual 4WD cars featured would be converted to 2WD, but which axle is driven is completely dependent on the vehicle itself.
Car Skiing: One of the many vehicular stunts available in 3 and LA.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Taken literally in 2; Angel actually cheats in one of the races by either giving himself a head start, or doing an un-announced start that would catch you by surprise. Which doesn't help him, as he's almost blatantly one of the worst racers in the game. Later on in Tokyo, Ricky pulls the same move on you in one of his races.
In LA the AI drivers do not need to pass near the checkpoints that you have to and rubberband like crazy.
Difficult but Awesome: Any of the motorcycles in 2, 3, or L.A. They are difficult to control at first, come with less nitrous boosts, and any crash results in your character falling off. But if you can master their handling and not crash, they become near unstoppable in the hands of an experienced player.
Do Well, but Not Perfect: In the time trial races, the second and third rounds are based on your previous time so doing too well in the previous round can make the target time for the next round next to impossible.
Downloadable Content: The South Central expansion for LA expands the map to include South Central and introduces lowriders and SUVs as racing classes.
Face-Heel Turn: In LA, Booke starts out as an obnoxious but benign Quest Giver, but the relationship turns sour when the Player Character fails to help him evade the cops after a team race. The next time you meet, he has become City Champ and you must defeat him in a series of races. By the end of the series, he acknowledges the player as a Worthy Opponent while promising to win his title back.
Jerkass: The AI competitors in LA will treat you like an amateur regardless of the rank you've achieved.
Angel in Midnight Club II.
Infinity+1 Sword: The Chrysler ME Four-Twelve in 3, and the Saleen S7 in Los Angeles.
Level Grinding: In LA, restarting a tournament means having to replay any race you previously beat. You can abuse this to get infinite Rep (basically the game's equivalent of XP) and unlock the best cars early.
Like Reality Unless Noted: Reviews have described LA as a fairly accurate representation of Los Angeles with certain modifications for better gameplay. This includes a metric buttload of real-life LA landmarks including the Hollywood sign, the Capitol Records Tower, Pink's Hot Dogs, the Viper Room, Rodeo Drive, Grauman's Chinese Theater, the Santa Monica pier, the LA River basin, UCLA campus and Paramount Studios to name just a fraction. The game even starts right outside of Carney's Express. However, there are notable exceptions, such as the Staples Center being given the more generic name of "Sports Center" and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum being renamed the "South Central Coliseum". Makes for an almost constant string of Hey, It's That Place! moments.
In Midnight Club 2, they did this to Tokyo, since real life Japanese streets are clogged, narrow, and horribly unfit for racing.
Also, despite being called "Midnight Club," the game works on a 24 hour-like clock, which means that means half of the time, you will be racing during the day. Hilariously, it is impossible to see traffic coming at you during the day (as half the cars blend into the road itself), but quite easy to see them at night (when their headlights and taillights are among the few things you can see on the road). Furthermore, LA slows down time to show your car spinning out of control as the AI races past you. Therefore, only race at night, stay close to the center of the map, and use the zone skill to keep your speed on turns, and you might just beat the game while only pressing the restart button 1500 times.
If "rubberband AI" was in the dictionary, this game would be a listed example. Winning by milliseconds is the norm. After you cross the finish line, the others racers jump across it like they were waiting just off screen. If you screw up anywhere, you will go from first place to last before you can blink and be left in the dust for the rest of the race.
In the first game, many people found chasing down the drivers to get the option of doing the race harder than the actual race.
To give another example of how Nintendo Hard effects players, if you google this game you'll see references to people preferring to play the game in Race Editor mode where the game just lets you drive around and not actually compete.
Complaints over the game's difficulty led to Rockstar taking the unprecedented step of issuing a patch to make the game (allegedly) easier.
Even those used to the game remark on the sometimes-impossible (as in actually physically impossible as in "even driving with nitro on all the time there isn't enough time to cross the map") nature of the car-delivery side missions.
However at the same time the game actually averts the trope because, reportedly, if the player loses enough races, missions, etc. the game actually scales down the difficulty somewhat. As a result, if you (intentionally or not) lose enough races, but still at least complete the races - as opposed to restarting a race every time you wipe out and the enemy AI gets an insurmountable lead - the game is, in theory, supposed to actually become easier.
No Name Given: The player character in LA is only really referred to as "Player".
Old Save Bonus: If the player has a save file from Smuggler's Run on the PS2's memory card, the Baja Buggy becomes playable in the first game in the series. (Obviously only applies to the games produced for PS2, as opposed to LA which is for PS3.)
Optional Traffic Laws: Usually, but if you break the road laws with the cops nearby, they'll go into Hot Pursuit. Midnight Club 2 only had cops preset in races.
Pimped-Out Car: A key feature of the games. 3 and LA even have prize cars that had been pre-pimped by DUB Magazine.
Product Placement: A odd example for the second game. The cars may be fake, but all of them except for your starter have a part or set of parts from actual companies (eg. Enkei wheels for the Supra lookalikes). Played straight in 3 and LA including cars, parts and billboards, as well as a number of recognizable stores such as 7-Eleven and Best Buy dotting the streets.
Rice Burner: Present to some extent the first two games, but the series takes numerous levels in Rice Burnerness with DUB Edition. Body kits, near-opaque window tint, spinners and super-bright neon (the latter three even on exotics) are standard on AI cars (and player cars depending on the person.) Toned down in Los Angeles in which the body kits and spoilers are actually designed with each individual car in mind and the AI mod their cars more tastefully. However, the player character can use bright neon and opaque window tint if they desire to.
RPG Elements: The Abilities in 3 and LA level up with use. LA also includes XP (AKA "Rep") that unlocks cars and parts at higher levels.
Ruritania: Karol has a vaguely Eastern-European sounding accent and his statements on his origin imply he comes from some post-communist country.
Shout-Out: The title of this series is a reference to the Japanese street racing team Mid Night Club. In the late 90's, they were infamous for their high-speed runs down Tokyo's Wangan expressway (which is why the "Wangan" kanji is also included in the title).
Interestingly, another manga and game series inspired by that group, Wangan Midnight (specifically its Maximum Tune spin-off) has a shout out to Los Angeles. One of the available aero-kits for the Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 in that game was nearly identical to one of the aero-kits for the same car in Los Angeles.
Spiritual Successor: The first Midnight Club is this to the first two games of the Midtown Madness series, developed by Angel Studios, which became Rockstar's San Diego division starting before Midnight Club II came out. Furthermore, even the engine for the first Midnight Club game was a heavily improved version of the Midtown Madness 2 engine.
In case you want to ask why the third game isn't included, that's because it was developed by DICE instead, while the RS San Diego team pressed on with the Midnight Club series and never looked back.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: most of the items listed under Nintendo Hard could be said to apply under this trope too. MC:LA adds a few more examples, such as anytime you need a specific grade of vehicle in order to race, the vehicles driven by the AI always seem to be superior, faster, and are completely tricked out, whereas, especially with some C- and B-class races, the player is forced to make do with a the equivalent of a golf cart and hope the AI makes an error, wipes out, or is delayed by traffic (all of which, despite claims to the contrary can and does occur).
Angel and Ricky actually cheat and give themselves head starts in the second game.
The Juggernaut: Aggro, available for luxury cars and SUVs in the third game and LA, allows the player vehicle to ram vehicles aside without suffering any damage.
Unintentional Period Piece: Released in October of 2000, New York includes the World Trade Center. You can drive at the base of the towers and around the sphere sculpture. Less than one year later that area of the game would be a relic of a time gone by.