Vehicular sections are a common trope of gaming and have been featured in countless games over the years. It’s a great way for developers to add some diversity to gameplay within their games.
Sometimes these sections can be spliced with combat to provide an exciting new challenge. Most of the time though vehicles are dull and unresponsive, making for a frustrating lapse in the genre.
Racing series’ like Forza often take a lot of research and programming to produce true to life simulations. So when the majority of a game’s development focus in on the story and shooting mechanics it becomes apparent why these vehicles are often so underwhelming.
Worse still are the vehicular sections that require you to meet specific criteria with a harsh time limit. Consider some of these worst examples as proof it may be time to put this trope to bed.
Whether it’s beating an opponent or simply the clock, these vehicular sections are never welcome. Races are often best left to racing games and these sections can be enough to spoil an entire game.
Often packaged with clunky and unresponsive controls, winning these mission-critical races is a real challenge. Take for instance the old-timey Grand Prix from the first instalment in the Mafia series.
Whilst there is a lot of vehicular sections in the game nothing could excuse this abomination. As players were making real headway building their crime empire and eliminating their enemies they were hit with this huge roadblock.
The surface was slippery and the controls were stiff making for an incredibly difficult race. If a player rolled their car at one of the many opportunities they were instantly met with a game over screen. The section was so difficult, developer Illusion Softworks eventually created a patch allowing players to skip this mission.
Another offender: vehicles that are incredibly fragile or make you more vulnerable to attack. Slow or overly exposed in combat sections coupled with high collision damage. The most notable offenders are planes and motorbikes but these continue to crop up in games every year.
Just the words RC Baron should be enough to strike fear into the hearts of most gamers. If you’d repressed the incident this was a particularly frustrating mission from the excellent GTA San Andreas.
The player is forced to eliminate a number of targets with a clunky and fragile remote controlled plane. Similar missions had featured in GTA games before but this was where the trope really hit an all-time low.
Almost impossible to fly straight nevermind target enemies with, the RC Baron also couldn’t withstand much punishment and came with a limited fuel meter adding a tight time limit. Share a thought for those players who never made it past this section of the game.
All Filler No Killer
But vehicular sections don’t have to be intensely stressful. They can also go heavily the other way into tedium. Exploration or filler missions that involve vehicular sections for no apparent plot reason.
Take Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones bizarrely timed and repetitive chariot sections. Or another name that strikes fear into gamers the M35 Mako from Mass Effect. A vehicle that combines difficult, unresponsive controls with all the fun of scanning baron landscapes.
Extra credit goes to Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag for combining this with another undesirable trope, forced stealth. Floating your huge galleon aimlessly through a swamp filled with enemy watchtowers. These are also ‘insta-fail’ sections, so if you drift slightly off course you have to start the mission again.
Nothing quite highlights the combination of tedium and frustration more than sailing through these dark swamps.
Can’t We Call Time on Vehicular Sections?
Not all gaming tropes withstand the test of time and maybe this another that is best left in the past. With advancements in cinematic storytelling and fluid action-packed gameplay, most of these games are only hindered by vehicular sections.
They often break up the pace, shattering the immersion in a blur of terrible, repetitive gameplay. If developers aren’t willing to put as much effort into programming the vehicles as the rest of the game it makes for a noticeable dip in quality.
AAA action-adventure titles often already offer enough mission variety and engaging gameplay. Frankly, vehicular sections are simply stretching the envelope too far in modern games. Give players more of what they want from their favourite games and a few less M35 Makos.