I pulled up to a stop sign earlier today, and glanced into my rear view mirror. Behind me was a blue sedan, and behind that, I could just make out a Schaumburg Police car. I made sure to come to a complete stop, checked traffic, then rolled across the intersection and on my merry way.
Two types of gameplay do not work on a mouse and keyboard, no matter how staunchly one stands behind PC gaming: platformers, and driving. At heart I’m a console gamer, but when it comes games involving shooting, PCs have always held the high ground. PC enthusiasts, be quiet for a few minutes, because this is the undeniable truth and you know it.
I recently started playing Mafia 2 via Steam, and buried within the game’s climactic turf wars and lookalike Studebaker Champions was a teensy little mechanic that would never be noticed, if it were not pointed out to the player: a speed limiter.
The main deterrent in the realm of driving mechanics is that in driving, some form of progressive input is required. Turn the car a tiny bit, or turn the wheel hard over for a hairpin at top speed. A joystick (or better yet, a steering wheel) achieves exactly this. Tip the stick a small fraction and the car meanders to one side; get to maximum tilt and the car will swing around. A keyboard is a collection of binary switches–each key is essentially on or off. The best you can do with this mechanic is constantly tap the key for a fraction of a second, making the car turn a smaller amount over time. But it’s awkward, at best. The same problem happens when trying to control one’s speed:
By pressing the L key while driving, the player invokes a “safe driving mode” that limits the vehicle’s top speed to 40 mph. Being that this only has the one setting, and is essentially a binary switch, its usefulness is limited, but it has its uses. Some of the roads in the game are marked as 40-mph zones, thusly I was able to activate the limiter and then just cruise with my finger on the gas, always moving at a good clip with respect to traffic, but never too fast to lose control.
This wormed its way into my brain after a few minutes, planting a parasite of an idea.