Aaron DiManna
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4 Interesting Driving Mechanics in Video Games

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A hand holding the new PlayStation DualSense controller. Its unique haptic feedback brings a new dimension to many games' core mechanics.
Photo: Marco Verch via CC

There are a lot of video games out there, and no two are quite the same. As a result, the approach to crafting driving mechanics varies widely from developer to developer and title to title. Sometimes, that means needing to suffer through awful minigames. Other times, it means you’re treated to a unique, interesting system that changes the way you interact with the world. Here are just a few.


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A rearview mirror

Given how ubiquitous rearview mirrors are in cars, this may not seem particularly innovative in terms of mechanics. But, if you play a lot of games, you’ll quickly realize that the vast majority of them rely on a reverse-camera view you can toggle on and off to see what’s going on behind you while driving. Mafia III, on the other hand, places a legitimate mirror at the top of the screen whenever you’re behind the wheel. Of course, you can still switch to a full reverse mode, but I think developer Hangar 13’s solution is both more elegant and immersive.

Slow-motion

Sometimes, games ask you to juggle multiple things while you’re driving — which isn’t that different from real life if you think about it. That’s why several titles feature a slow-motion setting, which allows you to pull off crazy stunts like you’re a cross between the boy in “Baby Driver” and Neo from “The Matrix.” The most popular example is probably Grand Theft Auto V, which deploys slow-mo as an exceptionally helpful perk for one of the three playable main characters.

A speed limiter

For better or for worse, many open world games that include cars center around crime. As such, trying not to draw the ire of the authorities is pretty vital. Both the original Mafia and its sequel have a speed limiter that you can flick on to automatically cap your pace. It even changes the ceiling dynamically depending on the posted speed limit.

Rewinding time

When you’ve got the digital pedal to the floor on a mission to claim first place in the big race, accidents can happen. To give you a leg up, titles like Forza Horizon offer a rewind mechanic that can slide you back in time and afford you another chance to handle that tricky corner a bit more effectively. As someone who’s generally pretty dismal at racing games, I consider this a mercy.

You may not love all of these mechanics, but it’s hard to deny the impact they have on their respective games. Some of them sound like they would come in handy in the real world, too.


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