Weekly Discussion: Vehicles

I have no idea why but I really cannot drive in games. I’ll crash pretty much anything that a game lets me drive; the more realistic the setting the more I crash. This is, in all likelihood, a result of my firm belief that you don’t really need to break that much when you go into a corner. It may also have something to do with Mario Kart teaching me that you have to do a burnout if you want the best possible start. Taking lessons from Mario Kart probably isn’t a good idea though, Peter just got mad when I threw a blue shell at him.

Of course it’s not just racing games where vehicles feature prominently, it’s just these are the ones I’m terrible at driving in. Forza? I might complete a lap if you turn all the assists on. Burnout? It’s a good thing that crashing is the idea, I’d just do it anyway. However, give me a Warthog in Halo and… well I wouldn’t say I become good, but I don’t actually crash all the time. If I’m lucky I might clear the vehicle sequence. Maybe.

That’s probably why I hold the Warthog so dearly as an example of how to do vehicles right outside of the racing genre. Halo manages to make the handling so simple and instinctive that you can almost do it without trying. Compare this to Battlefield 2, where attempting to control any vehicle with just the control keys was a nightmare, and it’s obvious just how right Bungie got their vehicles. I mean who wants to grab a joystick every time they clamber into a jet in the middle of a firefight? Just let me carry on as easily as if I was still running across the ground.


Of course even clumsy or bizzare vehicles can still be fun. For most people games are about fantasy, and whilst fighting your way through wave after wave of faceless enemies can be fun, for me it doesn’t hold a candle to jumping into some crazy contraption and blasting them away, or speeding around a race track in a flying car. I’d much rather fly some futuristic jet whose handling is a physical impossibility than drive around the Nürburgring in a supercar. Sure, I’m unlikely to do either in real life but if I’m doing something I wouldn’t normally do I may as well go all out.

However, given how strong the racing community is here at TSA I suspect I may be alone in my desire to toss realistic vehicles out of the window. Do you prefer a realistic handling vehicle, or would you rather fly in something that seems to have no visible form of propulsion? Of course context is a big part of it, you don’t want a hovercraft in GT5, but do you have a preference? Are you happy to drive anything as long as it’s easy to control?



  1. Burnouts in Mario Kart were bad….

    I love realistic physics.

    I love WipEout.

    I love Ridge Racer.

    Each type has its own place.

    I prefer sims though I guess…

  2. I know they add another layer of depth to combat but I would prefer it if vehicles were left out of any game that doesn’t fit into the “racing” category, particularly when it comes to online play.
    There is nothing more annoying than playing your favourite FPS only to have some n00b (haven’t used that term in a while) sitting in a tank madly shooting anything that moves. Battlefield gets it about right as the maps are large enough to stay out of the way of vehicles and you also usually have some sort of equipment to dispose of them anyway. I tend to avoid any online FPS that has vehicles however.

    Back on topic, games like Burnout, Mario Kart and Motorstorm get my vote over Forza and GT any day. If I wanted to drive properly I’d just go outside and get in my car :P

    • gotta agree I played half a lap of GT5 hated it, but I love burnout, hot pusuit, split second, mario and mod nations and that style of game

      • Ahh yes, Split Second. Forgot about that one. One of my faves :)

      • haha it was great fun but onece ya finish ya forget about it

      • I know because Burnouts better *coughs

  3. The Warthog in Halo was pretty amazing. Just dead simple to point and go, but with enough nuance that you could get “good” with it.

    My fondest memory with it is trying to break the level sequence on The Silent Cartographer level, if you did it right, you could smash through down through the tunnels and block open the door that locks, the jump out and just go exploring.

    That was one of the best things with Halo, the feeling that you could almost just wander off and have a look around, and it still feels more open than most shooters I’ve played recently.

    • I think the thing I love most about the Warthog was that they gave a proper in universe reasoning for it being so nimble and easy to control! Most games don’t bother with those details.

  4. Borderlands vehicles have the worst driving EVER.

    • It’s really not that bad when you get used to it.

    • Agreed, it definately didn’t feel right lol

    • I was going to say exactly the same – I found it impossible to complete the Borderlands driving/shooting bit by actually driving. Pretty sure I ended up doing it on foot with the biggest gun I could find. Road kills were fun though!

    • I didn’t like it, even though it could be the same thing from Unreal Tournament… but lacked tanks?! what gives!

  5. Nothing reduces the feel of quality on an otherwise stellar game than a badly done driving element.

  6. Isn’t the warthog controlled mainly through the camera? It’s completely different to driving in driving-focussed games.

    It’s can also be weird to drive in games which use the pivot system. Where the car rotates around a pivot instead of following the front wheels.

    I think that there are many games that get driving right for their different applications…

    GTA IV had nice physics for concentrating on action around you whilst driving and making police chases feel exciting.

    Burnout 2 had great physics for racing between traffic and having very easily controllable drifts which felt great.

    GT5 gives a great feeling – only with a wheel! To play GT5 with a wheel is to take that game to a whole other level.

  7. I’m just a massive car fan, so I’ll drive any racing game, but my preference is something more serious like GT5 or F1 2010.

  8. A game that I think nailed multiple vehicle handling is Warhawk. Given that your jumping in and out of all sorts of vehicles it’s really easy to switch and immediately feel the strengths and weaknesses of each.

  9. I thought it was just me that got worse at driving games the more realistic they are. I haven’t even bothered with GT5 as I’m sure I’ll just get frustrated with it.

    I enjoyed Burnout for the same reasons mentioned in the discussion – crashing was a requirement, I can do crashing.

    I think, as with gaming in general, each to his own. Those that like the realistic physics will go for the GT’s of this world, me I’ll just stick to playing Mario Kart against my son on his Wii ( he beats me every time anyway).

    • I don’t think they are mutually exclusive. I love GT5 but also love Burnout and Mario Kart. As long as their intentions are very clear from the outset, both are equally enjoyable to me.

  10. I love driving games, but GT5 is too realistic I think. i know its a simulator but its not that enjoyable compared to Mario or Crash Team Racing or modnation

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