Game literally set you on the road to Damascus”
simply choose the location from a menu and the game brings you straight there. Anyone who’s played Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, Just Cause, Saints Row or the first Assassin’s Creed will know what a relief this is.
When Grand Theft Auto III appeared, it was rightly praised for being so grand and immersive. Like never before, players were free to roam a fictitious city and commit petty crimes, perform side missions, or engage in the central story about climbing the greasy pole of a criminal career.
There was also driving. Lots of driving.
This didn’t really become a problem until the later, bigger games in the series, but by the time GTA Vice City arrived, with its expansive planes and numerous towns and hamlets, the driving had really got out of hand. Following one line, obeying traffic laws, and traipsing your way across town and country became trying.
Comic Dara O Briain complained about this aspect of the Grand Theft Auto series on the BBC programme Gameswipe. “I can’t believe I’m sitting here in fake traffic,” he moaned about GTA IV, “when I could be out driving to somewhere nice in actual traffic.”
The Assassin’s Creed games have reduced the length of their riding-on-horseback sequences, but the first game literally set you on the road to Damascus, galloping along for an inordinate amount of time. Red Dead Redemption tried to bypass the same hassle by having the character setting down camp, then waking in a new location. But it was too complicated, and many gamers just got back on the saddle.
Gamers have a reputation for short attention spans, so why do game developers assume our patience with long horse rides and car journeys? The truth, of course, is somewhere in between. Hopefully in the wake of LA Noire, we won’t have to spend too much time virtually commuting.