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Video Game / Midtown Madness

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"Forget everything you learned in Driver's Ed. Run every stop sign, drive the wrong way, or gun-it to jump a drawbridge. No-rules racing means doing whatever it takes to win."
Midtown Madness: Chicago edition box description.

Midtown Madness is a series of racing games based on street racing which includes:

  • Midtown Madness: Chicago Edition
  • Midtown Madness 2
  • Midtown Madness 3

Developed for Windows, the first title was released in April 1999 (while its demo was in May of the same year), followed by a sequel, released in September 2000; these two were developed by Angel Studios and published by Microsoft. Midtown Madness 3 arrived in June 2003 as an Xbox exclusive.

Across the games, the goal is to run through various races to obtain new vehicles.

Tropes appearing:

  • Artificial Stupidity: Midtown Madness 3 has some the dumbest cops ever. Drive into a body of water while the cop cars are chasing you in cruise, the cops will follow you. Then, they will respawn right near the water and drive into it again and again and again, even when you drive away from the water when you respawn.
  • Big Badass Rig: Yes, we got one!
  • Buses Are for Freaks: Drive in Chicago in a city bus or visit the major landmarks of London in a Double Decker in the way you wish!
  • Bus Full of Innocents: In the first two games, crashing any bus could lead to randomly listen frightened people from them! Speaking of safety driving...
  • Capture the Flag: Multiplayer Cop & Robbers mode. Take the gold and head it up to your team's hideout.
  • Car Fu: In crash course "Bonnie & Collide" you got a mission, destroy the other car before your time's up.
    • Part of the Midterm 2 depends on this.
  • Checkpoint: Present all the time, except for cruise mode.
  • Collision Damage: The first sequel has two crash courses in special, either you drive in London or San Francisco and you only have to remember one single little thing... DON'T. SCRATCH. THE. CAR. GOT IT?!, thank you.
  • Cool Car: Most of the cars indeed. Then you got the fastest: A Panoz Esperante GTR-1 in the first 2 games, and a Koenigsegg CC in the third.
  • Console Cameo: In Midtown Madness 3, certain pedestrians can be seen carrying boxes branded with the original Xbox logo.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Some racing modes involve competing against computer-controlled cars, and since you are always in danger of smashing into vehicles or obstacles, it helps greatly that they are too (not to mention that it's gratifying to see them smash head-on into oncoming traffic or miss a critical turn). Except that if they ever leave your immediate surroundings and end up in a part of the city of Chicago that isn't currently being "simulated," they go into cruise mode and move quickly and safely wherever they are meant to go next. In one of the races, a single computer car takes a very different route than the rest, meaning that in order to win you must be very lucky to have it crash during the parts of the race when it ends up being near you.
  • Destination Defenestration: If you thought streets were the only place to go, think again. Some buildings are accessible to drive through; you only need to create some shattered glass to open the door.
  • Dissimile: In Midtown Madness 3, each loading screen shows the race map and a caption. One caption says "It's like a square, only it's not."
  • Don't Try This at Home: Wise advice from one of the announcers from Midtown Madness 2.
  • Driving Test: Crash Courses, from the second game, and as you pass, the courses will get harder. Fortunately, you get new paint jobs, and if you get through the final test, you unlock a new reward.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Even the bus if you're mad enough. Different shades of smoke will reflect this, from white to black to game over.
  • Excuse Plot:
    • Midtown Madness 2: Crash Course takes the player to be a cab driver in London and a stunt driver in San Francisco, after you get fired from your former career.
    • Midtown Madness 3: Undercover missions at Washington D.C. and Paris.
  • Follow That Car: From the crash courses: Don't let the other cab escape from your sight in London! Also, you must follow and destroy a truck before your time is up, at San Francisco!
  • Fragile Speedster: Both Panoz (GTR-1 and Roadster) have a very low durability.
  • Have a Nice Death: By driving or falling into the river (or Lake Michigan) in Midtown Madness 1, the message "Sleep with the fishes!" will appear on the screen. It also shows the same message in the sequel, though only in San Francisco; while in London, it's changed to "More tea, vicar?"
  • Hippie Van: In Midtown Madness 2 some unlockable paint jobs show lots of bright colors; special mention to the hippie-themed Light Tactical Vehicle.
  • Hot Pursuit: Oh yeah, on a city where the police will ram you to stop you is expected to happen almost all the time.
    • Special mention to the Crash course: "The Heat is On"; You must escape from the police and lose them to pass.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Using the Mustang cruiser in Midtown Madness 1 allows the player to pass inadvertently from the cops, as if you were part of their force letting you going much more freely through the race or the exploration mode. This is no longer an exploitable feature in the sequel.
  • Invisibility: Though it works better at night, the Panoz GTR-1 secret shadow paint job in Midtown Madness 2 makes the car transparent. Cool uh?
  • Invulnerable Civilians: The pedestrians have incredible dodging skills, although in the first game, you could turn the weather to snowy and drive down the sidewalks of Lakeshore Drive to force them to dive into Lake Michigan. They would welcome death after that.
  • In-Vehicle Invulnerability: It's averted in certain race modes, like Blitz and Checkpoint, where when the vehicle is totaled it is game over. Although vehicles in the game will show signs of damage (smoke of different shades or bumping tires) as the player go around, in other game modes, however, while you can ruin your vehicle as well, it will lead you to a "5 second damage penalty" to get your car repair, good as new.
    • This apply to your opponents as well.
  • Karma Houdini: In all three games, the player gets no punishment for all of their trouble like wrecking a police car, speeding, smashing traffic, etc.
  • Kent Brockman News: Midtown Madness 2 has at least one announcer like this (out of three or four); one of their race-opening lines ends in "... probably because I'm not wearing any pants!"
  • Lemming Cops: The cops in the series are ridiculously single-minded in their attempts to run you off the road, including crashing through other traffic.
  • Man in a Kilt: One of the random bits of starting encouragement dialogue in London in Midtown Madness 2 is a Scotsman saying "If you can't feel the wind under yer kilt ye aren't going fast enough! Whaddaya mean yer not wearin' a kilt?!"
  • Mighty Glacier: The humble City Bus; it may not accelerate as fast as the average car but in the right circumstances can clean the streets from everything in its way, specially your opponents.
    • The Freightliner Century Class qualifies as this too.
  • Minus World: Using the drive on water and speed mods for Midtown Madness 2, one can explore areas beyond the roads of London and San Francisco. Because these areas were never meant to be explored, there are holes in the terrain, flat areas hidden from view during normal gameplay by buildings, and in the San Francisco map, part of Alcatraz and Marin can be visited using the drive on water hack.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: One of the announcers from San Francisco in Midtown Madness 2 seems to be one.
    Hippie announcer: Dude, remember the 1967 summer of love?... me neither.
  • No Name Given: The player's default profile is just Driver X in the first two games.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: It is the player, a car and a big city to explore. Commentators are present to give ambience.
  • No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom: Averted completely. Even on circuit races.
    • Though, playing the demos subverts this, as you are limited to a certain area and a limited time that you can still explore.
  • Optional Traffic Laws: The game specifically has the pedestrians run out of the way if they're on the street, or flatten themselves against a building, making it impossible to run anyone over. If you do obey traffic laws (speed limit, lanes, lights, etc), you are left alone by the authorities. Breaking any of these laws results in the cops chasing you mercilessly.
  • Product Placement: It's visible in some vehicles like the playable City Bus or non-playable taxis promoting other Microsoft products, like the MSN Gaming Zone, Monster Truck Madness 2, Motocross Madness and their precision racing wheel. The developer, Angel Studios, also shows up.
  • Race Against the Clock: Blitz race mode.
  • Ramp Jump: The series has rising bridges that the player can jump over, as well as trailer ramps scattered throughout the cities.
  • Ramp-rovisation: In Midtown Madness 2, you can jump from one embankment of the Thames to the other by use of strategically placed ramps in the Tower of London, and a (convenient) boat in the middle of the river.
  • Refuge in Audacity: In Midtown Madness 3, one of the taxi driver missions in Paris involves stealing customers from another company and listening to the reactions of the increasingly exasperated dispatcher. The last task in the mission involves picking up the dispatcher.
  • Shout-Out: The whole idea of driving at Chicago and then being chased by crazy cops from the first game sounds familiar to you?.
    • The Mustang Fastback from the first two games resembles the one from the 1968 film ''Bullitt''.
      • To complete the reference, in Midtown Madness 2, the new crash course mode has the San Francisco course with the player involved as a movie stunt driver, driving a green Mustang Fastback.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: Angelina from Midtown Madness 3 has some attitude.
  • Spiritual Successor: Midnight Club, developed by Angel Studios as well, which became Rockstar's San Diego division starting before Midnight Club II came out. Furthermore, the engine for the first Midnight Club was a heavily improved version of the Midtown Madness 2 engine, which later became the framework for the later Rockstar's RAGE engine.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Good luck trying to figure out the winning route; with all the checkpoints scattered, your opponents taking different ways, and a direction arrow that only indicates where is the nearest checkpoint regardless of the actual layout of the streets. It doesn't help when the traffic is in a jam, the driver must be careful or say goodbye to the race.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Subverted, even though the player can leave a path of chaos the game is designed to not hurt any pedestrian; instead, they scream, and jump away.
  • Wacky Racing: Depending on the driver.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: Main selling point of the series; going anywhere around, without any limits through real-life cities.
  • Wreaking Havok: If you survive the race and get to the breaking point of your vehicle...