Sometimes you have a post all written in your head, and just before you commit it to electrons and magnetic directions, you find something that makes the whole thing obsolete. That’s basically what’s happened just now.
I was going to complain about the ‘pause’ in TDU2, but then found that using the X-Box Guide Button does all I’d expect of a ‘pause’. On the other hand, this is a bit clunky, so I’m going to “discuss” it anyway.
TDU2 is a shared-world game: as you drive around in Freeride, you’ll see other gamers Freeriding as well. This means that if you park in the middle of a road, you can be in their way, or traffic will build up around you, which will have the same effect. With that in mind, let the complaints begin.
In every game I can think of the “Start” button works as a “pause” button. It usually brings up a menu, and pauses the action. In TDU2 it only does that in a very limited way. During races (thank goodness!) it does pause the action, however when Freeriding, the car will continue until it stops. As I mentioned, this is a shared game-world, and this often means you end up in other people’s way. Even worse (because I’m selfish) is that whatever you’d built up in the F.R.I.M. (Free Ride Instant Money) meter is simply lost. Unfortunately RL often calls on me, well … often, and I have to ‘pause’ a lot, and this just really annoys me. I really think that still being able to influence the gameworld while paused is just wrong and inconsistent with most previous experiences with games.
Of course, now I’ve found that the Guide button both brings up the menu, and then drops the guide over the top. It’s a bit of a pain, but it does pause properly.
Surprisingly, I’m not going to complain about the names that gamers pick, but instead how they’re displayed. They hover above a gamer’s car, often with extra information such as distance, level and the like. The problem is, that even when the car isn’t close, the name hovers in front of the scenery, and often the bit of road you’re driving down. When you get a group of gamers, especially in races, actually working out where to drive can be … tricky. I’d really like them to be able to be switched off, or the transparency increased somehow.
Early on I noticed a few drivers that had the same names as the competitors in the single player “storyline”. These always had the same car when I saw them (their signature car), and always drove slowly around the roads.
I also began to notice others, like Danger and TheLod, which exhibited the same behaviour. What I found interesting, though, was if I accidentally went off road in the mountains, and used the “quick travel” map to get myself back on, then those cars had disappeared, even though they should still have been around. Even more curious, as I duck around the map filling in roads I’ve missed, I’ll often come across the same “players” again, and again -far more than is likely by coincidence.
Today was the clincher, though, as I can’t connect to the TDU2 servers (a first for me, though I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about it), and those drivers are still there.
Looking at forums, others have come to the same conclusion. You can race these bots in instant challenges, and you’ll usually win, but you can’t seem to race them for any stake greater than $1000; and you can’t chat to them. Curiously enough.
I suspect that they’re “designed” to keep the game world populated, even in areas of low drivers, or times when people aren’t online. Whatever the reason, it’s interesting to have them around.
Like any game, there are sometimes things that are, to me at least, amusing. Most 3D games suffer from objects that don’t sit properly, or intersect with each other in bizarre ways. In TDU2 I’ve come across floating lampposts, floating rocks, unnatural kinks in the landscape and more. With such a huge landscape, they’ve done a good job avoiding these problems.
However, what I want to talk about is the rules of the game causing amusing issues. Games that offer a lot of freedom often suffer more from this, simply because you often can’t test what every idiot player is going to do.
Games are built around rules. In this driving game there are rules about how a car behaves on tar, as opposed to dirt, what objects are solid, what objects can be knocked down, and so on. When rules are designed, they try to strike a balance between letting the player do what they need to do, and trying to avoid having to cope with every idiot player. For example, in the TrackMania series, you could actually drive (albeit slowly) along the bottom of the ocean and explore parts that I’m sure they never intended people to explore.
TDU2 avoids that by having the car respawn on the road if it lands in water. This makes sense if you drop into the middle of a river, or the deep ocean, but if you’re just driving along a beach and touch the shallow water, it’s … startling. And amusing.
The other issue I’ve had could almost fit into the “Can’t jump over knee high walls” that some First Person Shooters suffer from. Usually the obstacles that stop you are large walls, trees and so on. However, every now and again, something like a few inch tall piece of garden edging will stop a Hummer H3. With what I’ve put the various cars through, I can’t help but laugh at the rules failing in such cases.