How GTA 5 makes driving fun

I like driving around in GTA 5. Unlike real life it’s quite smooth. Driving like that doesn’t just fall out of the sky. This is the oompth 3D GTA and the makers have picked up lots of little tricks and tweaks to save you from annoyances. Here are some of those tricks explained.


The Plastic Pole:
The most obvious of them all. Streetlights, lanterns and fire hydrants snap loose when you hit them as opposed to stopping your car. It just slows the car a bit down. This highlights a concept that most of these tricks are based on: Driving is fun, Standing still is awful. Think of that frustration that jolts through your body the moment your car comes to a sudden halt. That has to be avoided and that’s why most poles won’t stop you.

Nobody likes hitting them though. Based on knowledge of real life, players still know you’re not supposed to hit them. The bonus is that when you actually do it gives you a small sense of power. It’s you vs an obstacle and you won.

The Perfect Space:
It’s one of the mostly glorious things to do in GTA. Speeding down the road and slipping through the perfect space between two other cars cars on the road. Feels good right? You’d be amazed how often you can pull this off with a bit of practice and the fact that GTA meticulously places each car with just enough space to fit your vehicle in. All that driving in the gap between two cars is part of the plan. In fact: even the space between cars is so well aligned both front and side that you can perfectly swerve left and right as you pass them by.

The blind eye:
Secret: You make more bumps than you know. The game is just protecting your feelings by letting very tiny collisions go unnoticed. They don’t make a sound and they don’t stop your car. If you got so close to a car that you thought “Good I didn’t hit that one” then you probably did.

The Slow Rest:
You don’t notice it until you stand still but most other cars drive way under the speed limit even on the highway. This has 2 effects: you feel like you are going fast because you are passing by everyone else even if you drive a garbage truck. Also: On intersections cars coming from the left and right don’t pop up as sudden as they would when driving regular speed. Because most players have total disregard for stopping lights I suspect the number 1 cause of crashes is still being rammed from the side though.


The Magic Flip:
After driving a car for a while you kind of bond with it. Nothing is worse than finding yourself being upside down when all you did was racing off a cliff with 80 mph.  To prevent you from having to part with your new friend the game lets you jinx the laws of physics but wiggling the car with your stick until it flips on its wheels again. This is where the game sacrifices realism for the sake of you keeping your car.

Mid-air Magic:
An evolution of the car-flip and a  gimmick that’s most arcade-ish, least realistic. You can steer the pivot of a car when it’s making a jump…so that’s in mid air. It looks fake but only a bit. It benefits the smoothness because you can prevent cars from hitting the floor face first. More important: it puts you in slight control and in driving games (or almost any game) being in control feels good. even if you crash horribly afterwards.

The Self-conscious Hood:
Sometimes your car is dented and the hood pops up blocking the view of the road for the third person camera. After 5 seconds the front hood grows a conscience and knows it’s not welcome anymore. it will automatically let loose and you’ll be free again. This happens every single time a hood pops up. Guaranteed.

The Ghost Door:
It might mean nothing to you but if you are only slightly compulsive then driving around with a car with one door closed and the other open may rub you the wrong way. It does me. Good that when making a turn the door slams shut and there is symmetry again. Inner peace. Real life car doors have a mechanism the prevents them from shutting but GTA knows that just doesn’t make players feel good when driving 120 mph. The best thing about it is that it doesn’t close automatically but only when you make a turn. Giving you the feeling you are in direct control of the situation.

If you’re curious what difference this makes you can play Sleeping Dogs which doesn’t feature these super doors. It’s agony.


The not much traffic:
On one side it’s a performance saver but it’s also extremely convenient the streets are not sprawling with cars. It’s not exactly empty on the streets but it’s not crowded either. Why? Because you probably couldn’t handle driving as fast as you like with so much traffic around. The game tries to strikes a balance between believable crowded but also manageably empty. GTA knows you are a lunatic and though a certain amount of obstacles can be fun there’s really not much use for more cars than there are already.

The invisible hand:
There is an invisible hand at work here. When hitting the brakes it’s amazing how often your car comes back on track after it seemed to spiral out of control. I suspect this is staged. The game knows where your car is and also where the roads are and I feel like every once in a while it pushes the car slightly back on the road because the most important thing about driving is keeping on driving.

And finally the coolest of them all…

The reverse and brake move:
I like to see this as a secret move. The race gods are always in your favour when you want to get out of a situation by doing this: Drive in reverse, Hit the brakes, Steer to a side and hit the gas. You will have turned around your car almost perfectly in line with the road again. I can’t help thinking this is predetermined. Pulling this move is like an invisible hand reaches from the sky to make sure you get back on the grid to continue racing but it also makes you feel like a totally cool driver.

Those are the tricks I know. I could be seeing things that aren’t there and maybe I’m missing out on some huge aspects but what do I know? I’ve only made $950.000 doing cab jobs so far. Don’t worry though. There is still plenty of things to be annoyed by. Like the fact sometimes cars can instantly explode upon crashing…yeah.

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