Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Wow, It's Like Driving In The Real World, But Faster - Open World Racing Games Ryviews Ryport

After having recently played and ryviewed Motocross Madness, I've been contemplating why I enjoy the game so much. And during my soul searching I decided that the open world aspects were very much what drew me to the game.

So why is open world racing so desirable?

Honestly, I think there's a general desire for open world in all of gaming. There's a big trend travelling in that direction right now, with the market filling up with GTA style clones and Choose-Your-Own-Path RPGs. Gamers like having freedom and they like being able to set their own path, without the classical rigidity of linear level progression.

You know, those games where you can choose to be a dick to a reporter

Even those style of games, like the Super Mario franchise, moved in that direction with Super Mario 64 when you didn't need to complete a land to advance to the next one. That meant you had a small amount of control for the order you did things, and it was possible to skip entire areas if you could complete other areas.

Nowadays, we have a bunch of games where you have nearly complete control over the sequence of events. A game like Saints Row has essentially 3 campaigns, each happening in the player's chosen order, plus a bunch of side content that can be done from first to last in any order you choose. It offers a truly player specific experience.

For racing games, I feel like it's still not quite at that stage. There are a few games out there that offer it, but the only one I'd played before now was Burnout Paradise. That was a fantastic game where you drove around the city and chose to do any events you drove by. That meant you could cherry pick what event type your wanted, or you could stay in a particular area you liked.

Burnout: Paradise, where crashing is for winners

I think that level of control is nice because, for one, you aren't force to play through a bunch of content you don't like. While most games have an "intro" portion that's required before you're released to an open world, for the most part if you want to just skip a section of the content you're pretty much free to do so, albeit possibly shutting off any possibility of end game content.

But for racing games, story has never been a motivating factor, so open world seems to fit naturally. The order shouldn't matter for anything but difficulty, and that can easily be managed through a level based difficulty scaling system. And with no story based end game, if I don't want to play that mode where you have to drive through hoops and land on dolphins, then I don't have to. (Just to be clear, if that was a game mode, I'd definitely play it first).

Source: http://www.dolphins-world.com/wp-content/uploads/dolphin-main.jpg
It's either us or them, people. Just look at his conniving face.

But aside from progression, the very idea of being able to take your racing cars out onto the street and just drive for fun is really appealing. That's actually why I find myself playing GTA style games when I want to have fun driving, rather than racing games. GTA style games let you take your cars, fully customize them, then drive around and party in them (like a boss). That's what I want from my racing games. I want a way to race other cars when I want to, and drive on the sidewalk knocking down mailboxes when I want to.

Is that too much to ask?

Until next time,


Images courtesy of Wikipedia except where sourced

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