Game lit­er­ally set you on the road to Damascus”

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Games & apps -

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.

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