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"You can finish the game in about twenty minutes by sprinting to the next point of no return, alerting every guard, cat, and stationary object (none of which can chase you past points of no return). A game with any balls at all would say, 'Get the fuck back in there and take this seriously!'"
[Bronx Cheer x3] Meep Meep!
When Kiting mobs in an MMORPG, circle strafing around a hopelessly confused mass of enemies in an FPS, or fleeing from unwanted engagements in an Action Adventure, one tends to have the funny feeling that there's something blatantly unrealistic about the situation, but what?
Then it dawns on you: The Player Character's primary movement speed in most titles is as fast as or faster than every other entity in the entire game. The reason you're a One-Man Army who can face down hordes of enemies is that you can never actually be surrounded, allowing you to pick and choose your fights, literally run rings around foes, and retreat at your convenience.
If there are speedy enemies, expect them to stop chasing you outside a "safe" zone, or to move slower than you except for short bursts and charges.
Often aggravated by a specific form of Artificial Stupidity in which NPCs aren't simply slower than PCs, but their mobility is hindered by the literal inability to perform many actions the PC can, such as eight-way run/aim, multitasking, crouching, crawling, jumping, wading/swimming, climbing, and operating doors/switches.
See also Hit-and-Run Tactics, not to do with Leeroy Jenkins though a Leeroy might abuse this fact.
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The Legend of Zelda lets Link run faster than most enemies and certainly more agile, but it's not often obvious because most enemies only stop moving when they are shooting. This is useful, because they do Collision Damage and you have very short range.
This is less true in the 3D titles. Without your horse, for example, the best Link can hope to do is match the speed of wolfoes and there is usually something that manages to outpace you even with your horse/boat/whatever.
However, even fast enemies generally won't chase you very far if you run away from them, and you can pretty much always escape from non-boss enemies by leaving the room.
In The Binding of Isaac, Isaac is faster and more maneuverable than most enemies and uses a range weapon to attack, which is absolutely necessary to make up for his low health, relative rarity of health restoring, and roguelike nature of the game.
Your most important weapon in a 3D Ninja Gaiden is your mobility.
Lugaru: The Rabbit's Foot has a player-only move that lets you drop to all fours and run at double the top speed of the other rabbits.
Wolves, on the other hand, use that all the time to catch up with you...and their version is blindingly fast.
In Atari Games' Road RunnerLicensed Game, the Road Runner can run circles around the coyote chasing him, naturally.
In the Batman Arkham Series, Batman has insane speed. It might not seem like much, but you can run away from any enemy. Not that you'd want to, as you can just beat 'em up. In fact, the combat is all about utilizing Batman's insane agility by being able to instantly switch targets no matter how far across the map they are (the limit is so high you'll probably never hit it in normal gameplay and think Batman would probably teleport to his opponent if need be) and can easily dodge and counter every attack thrown at you. It's also easy to, in the stealth segments, quickly run to a hiding spot or swing between multiple vantage points so fast they'll lose sight of you even if you switch between the two same ones. Taken Up to Eleven with DLC characters Nightwing and Catwoman, who are even faster, though they're not quite as powerful.
First Person Shooter
Many FPSes, particularly the classics of the genre. Doom, Quake, Marathon, Halo and others. Descent even went so far that it's possible to outrun missiles and Frickin' Laser Beams! For reference, in most classic games the player clocks at about 30-40 mph. In modern games it's down to about 10-15 mph (Modern Warfare guys do about 11 mph, while Master Chief does about 14 mph) which with all that equipment is still equivalent to running full sprint while simultaneously sighting down your gun.
With certain items Scout can run nearly twice as fast as other classes. You can outflank the enemy by running full circle around the map.
In the first two Serious Sam games, Sam can strafe-run something fierce, which makes the colossal distances slightly more bearable. In contrast, though, practically every single Mook moves even faster. The only way to outrun anything is by sprinting in BFE, and even then Werebulls are still faster than Sam.
Nomad and Psycho in Crysis: Maximum Speed nanosuit mode allows them to outrun every enemy, and even land-based vehicles for a short time.
Half-Life attempts to justify this with a mention of a company-sponsored biathlon in the introductory scene, suggesting that Gordon Freeman has reason to be experienced at both running and handling guns, not that he'd necessarily have done them in a heavily armored suit.
The player in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. can sprint to outrun any mutant, provided they aren't wearing Powered Armor which prevents sprinting. Keeping a couple energy drinks on hand lets you sprint nigh-indefinitely.
In Punch-Out!!, Little Mac is able to take on opponents many times his size with his superior speed.
In Diablo II, the player is essentially the fastest thing on the map. He has a Sprint Meter, but at higher levels it's too big to make a difference. Except in very enclosed spaces, running is nearly always an option.
Most Dynasty Warriors games (as well as thevariousspinoffs) has this to a greater or lesser degree. Generally, you can outrun all the Mooks and Red Shirts you want to, but enemy (named) officers can keep up with you, give or take. However, there's always ways to increase your speed, from pickups, equipment, skills, or good old-fashioned stat-grinding. Noteable examples:
In Dynasty Warriors 6, some characters have a 'dash' special which, when used, allows them to temporarily move at blinding speed, attacking in the process, and carving through entire armies in the blink of an eye.
Dynasty Warriors 7 allows you to stack two 'Run Speed Up' enhancements (one on each of your weapons), which will give you a run-speed faster than any of the normal horses. Pick up a Speed Boot item on top of that, and you can outrun Red Hare, the fastest horse in the land.
Also in DW7, a bug made it possible for Zhen Ji to essentially activate a 'reverse Bullet Time' by canceling out of a particular move, granting her super-speed - in this state, she can outpace Red Hare by DEFAULT. Stack a Speed Boot on top of it, and you'll be able to cross even the biggest maps in the game in seconds, moving fast enough that it's hard to dodge the mountains.
Inverted in Final Fantasy XI. Most monsters move as fast or faster than the player, and unlike some games will often not stop following you until you reach another zone. Generally, the only practical way to kite in the game is to have gear that increases your movement speed, although it's possible on many monsters without it provided you get a good head start.
Very few non-player characters in Runescape can run.
In City of Heroes, every player character, no matter the powers, received three different abilities for increasing movement speed, for free, which could all be used together, any of which would be sufficient to outstrip 99% of the enemies in the game on its own. On top of that, a plethora of abilities were available to increase the player character's movement even further.
In World of Warcraft, the players are generally at least slightly faster than most mobs... unless they can get a hit in. Then you get dazed, and move at the speed of a snail with a sore foot, thus allowing dozens of things to surround you.
After Mega Man X, the greatest advantage a player has over most enemies (including many bosses) is in the player's vastly superior speed and or agility.
Ijijustifies this by having Iji be enhanced for mobility, as it was the only real option at the time.
It's still possible for her to have more hit points than all non-boss enemies save one, however, so they didn't sacrifice resistance that much…
Also, higher difficulty levels reduce the gap in speed, eventually making enemies faster.
Pretty much the main concept of Mirror's Edge. You are strongly encouraged to use your speed and agility to avoid melee whenever possible.
Whether through the use of momentum or pure unadulterated speed, this is one of the main features of the Sonic the Hedgehog series.
Mario, when he's B-dashing, can run faster than basically anything else.
Luigi is faster than practically everything in the Super Mario Galaxy games.
It comes to a particularly ridiculous point in Super Paper Mario with Dashell. Without Dashell, Mario, Luigi, and Peach can already outrun just about everything in that game (including sound). With Dashell, you'll probably get hurt because you didn't see the enemy coming at the edge of the screen.
Spelunky plays this mostly straight (a couple of enemies don't move at all), but you get a nasty surprise if you irritate the shopkeeper. He runs and jumps exactly as well as you do, plus he has a shotgun and can toss you through the air if he touches you.
Very much inverted in Nethack. Although you can match the average humanoid enemy for speed from the get-go, many, many enemies are much faster than you until you get speed boots or an equivalent, and even then there are still some. The #1 killer of low level players, Team Ant, are not strong enemies but enemies who come in groups and move faster than the player can run. However, if you are faster than an enemy and keep track of the turn order in your head you can be practically invincible against anybody without a ranged attack, constantly forcing them to waste turns following you and stealing a cheap hit whenever you get a free turn. The enemies are mercifully unaware of this strategy.
Generally averted in Dungeon Crawl; most races move about the same speed as an average enemy, with some enemies being faster or slower than average. Played straight with spriggans and centaurs, who are significantly faster than most enemies, and inverted with nagas and worshipers of Cheibriados, who move slower than the average enemy. Followers of Cheibriados are particularly noteworthy in that their most of the powers their god grants work most effectively against faster enemies, making them Mighty Glaciers.
In many character builds, this is almost mandatory in order to survive the later game of Elona. Enemies will have vastly more health then can be safely dispatched in a couple rounds, so shooting and scooting is desired, especially if your race is something naturally frail like a fairy or quickling, who both excel at this tactic.
In Persona 3 (possibly 4 as well), the player is faster than any non-gold (who run away from the player if spotted) shadow unless they hit you from the side. This allows quickly bypassing most enemies.
Any games in the Tales Series featuring the Free Run mechanic can turn into this, especially in Tales of the Abyss', where it was introduced. You can literally dodge everything by running circles around your enemies, and only one boss was fast enough to actively chase you down.
In Might and Magic VI and VII your party can easily run away from any opposition in the game, even if three out of four of you are stoned, paralysed, unconscious, dead or eradicated, and in the last case the mere fact that your comrades have been reduced to their component atoms doesn't stop them from carrying their fair share of inventory nor slow you down in the slightest.
This trope is the main survival tool of the main character in the Gothic series while he's low level.
Very much true in Dragon Age II, where your party (especially the squishier characters, like Anders and Bethany) will die quickly if you don't have them run run run out of the mobs' reach. Rogues are built with Hit-and-Run Tactics in mind, with plenty of ways to get away from enemies (or towards them so you can stab) even faster.
Shoot Em Up
In Geometry Wars, you're the fastest thing in the game ... in the beginning levels. However you do remain the most maneuverable.
Animal Crossing series draws its outdoor scenes space-compressed, with each grid cell representing what appears to be 1 m by 1 m indoors or 4 m by 4 m outdoors. While NPC villagers have a reasonably slow walking speed outdoors, the player can still run at 1 cell-length per 16 frames (with 60 frames in a second), which in outdoor areas equals 54 km/h, and "crossing" the 64-cell (256 m) wide town in Wild World takes 17 seconds flat. Given the amount of running back and forth that the player needs to do between the sources and sinks for Vendor Trash, it's a desirable break.
In Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy, many of the aircraft piloted by Mooks will fly slower than the player's stall speed, even if it's the same (unmodified) model of plane. It's most noticeable if the player is shot down; passing aircraft will float by like a feather.
Played with in the Macross Frontier titles (Ace, Ultimate, Triangle). You fly much faster than Mooks, but enemy aces can match your speed and maneuverability, or even exceed it, depending on the relative quality of your and their aircraft. The toughest enemies also turn this trope back on you: the Ghost X-9 is the worst in this regard: it is so damned fast it can outrun everything else in the game without using its booster, including the missiles you fire at it. Good luck landing even a single hit on it.
Stealth Based Game
Assassin's Creed I plays with this. Most enemy soldiers are as fast as you, almost as jump capable, can knock you down with thrown stones and arrows if you try to out-climb them, and rarely have trouble moving through crowds. And if there's enough of them, never seem to lose sight of you. However, no one climbs buildings at a rate even close to yours. Your speed advantage in the game is more vertical than anything else, and once you get to the top of the buildings, it is easy to lose your pursuers. Plus Ezio is apparently the only man in Italy who can swim. And those who can outrun you are Fragile Speedsters you can kill easily. This leads to a battlecruiser-style approach where you outrun those who outfight you and outfight those who can outrun you.
In the Clock Tower games, the PC character is something like 10 times faster than your foes. In the original game, a savvy player will quickly realise Scissorman cannot possibly be a credible threat - until he shows up in your face, instantaneously warping from one side of the mansion to the other. Unfortunately, Scissorman can only be outwitted, not outrun.
In most Silent Hill games, especially the earlier, less-combative ones, it's highly recommended that the player outrun the monsters dotting the streets and exterior areas; these monsters are not especially fast or agile, and stopping to kill them will either just waste valuable bullets or risk getting too close and attacked. Even inside buildings it's not always necessary to kill every creature you encounter, as you can sometimes run and/or sneak past them.
Taken to its logical conclusion in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, in which running as fast as you can is the only viable option; there is no combat whatsoever against the creatures. As long as you don't hit any dead ends or flounder around and bump into one you can stay just out of their reach and they can never overtake you.
Wide Open Sandbox
The PC in Mercenaries 2 sprints at an average speed... but the enemy bullets are so slow you can almost outrun them.
A core gameplay element of Prototype, with only helicopters able to match the main character's speed. Of course, you're also tough enough to crack open a tank with a shoulder drop.
Just Cause, the player is equipped with a grappling gun and can use an infinite supply of parachutes to achieve Not Quite Flight, giving them vastly superior speed and flexibility of movement while most of the enemies fight on foot or from vehicles that can don't fare we'll in rough terrain (which hardly hinders the player). The player can also hijack any vehicle in a flash, and runs faster than foes on foot.
From X2: The Threat to X3: Albion Prelude, the player ship wasn't necessarily the fastest (as you're flying the same ships as everyone else), but many (primarily the City Guards) NPC ships weren't equipped with engine tunings, allowing the player to outrun ships a weight class below them. When combined with the player's Diagonal Speed Boost from strafing thrusters and the Artificial Stupidity making the AI overly cautious around stations, it was easy for players to zip out of range of enemy guns.
The player's ship in X Rebirth has a slow standard movement speed, but its massive boosters allow it to outrun almost anything in the game so long as there is shield capacity remaining to power the boosters. Different boosters augment different movement speeds, such as straight-line speed or agility.
Non-Video Game Examples
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In Zombieland, Columbus's first rule of zombie survival is "cardio". He notes that those who couldn't outrun the zombies were the first to go.