Drive, He Said
by Tom Chick
By about 3am, the new guy and Mike have to be split up because
they've been kicking everyone else's ass. Theres a sort of
Zen sensibility about Midtown Madness where you have to stop trying
to drive and just point the car and let it run roughshod over everything
in the way. Peter has long since gone home, announcing that Midtown
Madness 2 is "so buggy it's unplayable". I've tried to
talk everyone into moving along to Carmageddon, but no one wants
to play if you can't run over the pedestrians.
"That's really lame, that you can't have peds in multiplayer
games," Trevor says, as the ball bounces between his legs.
We're playing Virtua Tennis, waiting for our turn at Midtown Madness.
Trevor and I are on the same team now. Hes been oversteering
all night even though I explain he just needs to move the wheel
"Duh, I know how to use a steering wheel," he says. But
he keeps running into buildings. Sometimes he inadvertently gets
in the way of the other drivers.
"Well, you can't have traffic in Midtown Madness," I
say, easily returning Trevor's gentle lob. "That's one of the
best things about the single player game, the way you have to move
among all the cars. But it's a ghost town in multiplayer."
"No it isn't. There are peds all over the place. They're like
"Well, but they're just graphics. You can't hit them. The
pedestrians don't have any effect on gameplay."
"What do you mean you can't hit them?" Trevor asks, hitting
the ball in a slow high arc.
"You can't hit them. Microsoft made the game that way,"
I smash the ball into his side of the court, "They always jump
out of the way at the last second."
"Damn. Are you serious?"
"Yeah." It occurs to me that maybe Trevor wasn't driving
into buildings because he was having trouble with the steering wheel.
"At least it's easier to drive in Midtown Madness, Trevor
says. You get banged up in Carmageddon and you're screwed."
"The physics are a lot better in Carmageddon. Midtown Madness
isn't very realistic. There's no real reason not to run into stuff."
I'm waiting on my side of the court, jiggling left and right.
"I don't know. That one time we played Carmageddon, you could
drive off a cliff and not take any damage when you landed. But whack
a curb the wrong way and you lose serious health."
Trevor's right. For all its wonderful collision detection, the
latest Carmageddon has some really screwy rules about when you take
damage and how much you get hurt. The graphics in the series have
gotten better, but it's wonderful physics and gameplay have never
quite lived up to the first game.
"Besides," Trevor adds, "No one cares about physics.
Look at them." He jerks a thumb at Mike and the new guy plowing
through London with impunity, their cars bouncing over obstacles
like rampaging pinballs. "Physics is a dead art. Trespasser
killed physics. Realism is dead. We just want to play games."
Trevor stares at the screen.
"It's your serve," I tell him.
"Yeah, you're on the bottom."
"Oh, I've been thinking I was the guy on top the whole time.
Man, Virtua Tennis is pretty complicated for such a simple game."
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