Before you could run you had to walk

Even as I sit here and type I am trying to remember playing a game FPS game that didn’t have the ability to ” Sprint”. To take a step back for all of you new generation of FPS gamers out there you should be made aware that the ability to run or sprint in a FPS game wasnt always a standard feature.

Most of the games that we are now playing sequels of started out their series simply trudging a,long at whatever movement speed the developers deemed satisfactory for the pacing of the game. Multi player also was dialed into a set speed and love it or hate it , that is what defined the games overall feel once the bullets started flying.

Halo, Rainbow Six , Call of Duty, and Battlefield now all have a “sprint” function that lets the player have a quick burst of speed  to engage his opponents or to get behind cover but the bigger question is why this feature was added to the games later iterations.

Pacing: probably the most important reason the feature was added in all of the above examples. This however covers a broad sub category of reasons but as an overall definition, I think pacing explains it best. By implementing a feature that enables you to move quicker the developers could then dial-up the intensity of the combat around you. With the ability to run you could then face  opponents who could move quicker and chase you more vigorously. Everything became faster and more intense and you didn’t have an excuse about trying to survive it…because you could run.

Gamers have no attention spans: Dialing up the pacing of a game would allow for individuals who thrived on intensity and constant stimulation to get from point A to point B quicker and therefore less downtime when they weren’t shooting guns. It allowed the player to control the pacing of the action rather than having to move at a pre determined rate set out by the developers.

Seriously! That’s all playable geography and ain’t no way I’m walking to Objective < C >!!

Many game developers realized this and worked at ways to give players constant stimulation while playing there games. Ever wonder why shooter games fail to more substantial stories other than ” go to point A and shoot everyone then go to point B”. This is of course a general rule and there are examples of wonderful stories in the archives of FPS games.I have since seen many gamers pick up a new game and as soon as they have player control ie after a cut scene , immediately start jamming on buttons asking which one the “run” button is. Really?!

Realism: Of course there is the fact that we can all run in real life so why not give our virtual warriors the same option. This was a no brainer but still took a long time to become a reality in games.

” Run and Gun” : self-explanatory…

New multiplayer games are now forced to conform to this standard at the risk of alienating potential players; but is this feature required in order to have a satisfying experience in the FPS genre.

Look to games like Counterstrike: Global Offensive as an example of a development team who refuse to budge on design elements that they used almost 10 years ago. Counterstrike: GO will be launching this year and it will be entering a pool of shooter sharks so to speak.

There isnt a “Sprint” function in Counterstrike:Global Offensive but you do run faster with a knife in your hand…FPS Doug would be proud!

It will now have to compete against games like Battlefield 3, Call of Duty and Medal of Honor not to mention HALO 4! One would think that any studio making a FPS game would at least hit the status quo mark on the short list of standard features but rest assured; Counterstrike :GO will not have a “sprint” feature.

Halo is another example of a game that blatantly emulated features from a successful competing title ( Reach was Halo’s version of Modern Warfare ) and was almost shunned because of it. Classic HALO multiplayer did not have the ability to sprint or run and Reaches changes were met with mixed feelings. It wasnt a requirement for the type of competitive multi player that HALO delivered. To that point MLG now uses a ” No sprint” variant in there competitive events.

Rainbow six Vegas 2 is a game that also implemented a sprint function into its game after the debut title chose not to have that feature. This was also met with hesitation from die-hard fans and while in the end the community accepted the changes the primary concern was that it would remove the tactical pacing from the game and give it a more ” run and gun” feel .

Running is quite the feat for a guy wearing a 1000 lb suit of battle armor.

My opinion is that the game needs to come first and while every developer will always try to mold their game to anticipated consumers desires and wants, they could drive themselves crazy trying to appease everyone. In the case of Counterstrike they have a rabid fan base who is watching there every move and any deviation from what is ‘ acceptable” in their minds will cause them to boycott the product. It’s a slippery slope and I certainly don’t envy them.

So the next time you fire up your favourite FPS and buckle down for a session of intense shooting and …running; maybe give some thought to how the game would feel without the ability to lace up those running shoes.


Dwayne “EVO Knight” Morash




One thought on “Before you could run you had to walk”

  1. Running is obviously very useful in Battlefield, where you sometimes spawn a kilometre from the action. However, as a long time tactical hard core CoD player, I have always preferred the crouch-only servers where you get kicked if you walk upright. It may sound extreme, but it makes for much more realistic play. And, it gets rid of the bunny hoppers almost by default.

    I have recently quit playing CoD MW3 precisely because of this. As they took away the clan-controlled servers, they took away the policing that goes along with them. Having people sprint then jump around a corner shooting wildly is not my cup of tea. I have switched to Battlefield 3 because it doesn’t reward that sort of play as much or I roll back to Black Ops and the remaining crouch-only servers there when I want to play CoD.

    Keep up the good work. I enjoy your posts.


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