Things That Annoy Me: V1
February 17, 2010

The decreased challenge in games. I was playing Medal of Honor: Frontline tonight. Levels 2-3 and 2-4 aren't notorious for being tough or anything, but they were long and loaded with enemies AND there are no in-level saves or checkpoints, so if you screw up, a good deal of work could be wasted. You have to conserve health items, as one mistake could force you to backtrack to rejuvenate yourself...or risk death by whatever enemy crosses your path next.

That was the first MoH game on the PS2. The last was Vanguard. By this point, the series was using the hot new thing as far as taking damage goes, where you don't have those stupid unrealistic healing items laying around, but if you can duck out of harm's way for about 5 seconds, you'll be completely revitalized! And there were tons of checkpoints. A halfway decent player could bully through all (or at least most) of the game during an afternoon.

Uncharted II uses that same method of taking (and recovering from) damage where if you avoid taking damage for a short period of time, you fully recover from taking that rocket to the kisser. But with checkpoints that seem to be about .5 feet apart. In the fairly-late-game chapter titled "Cat and Mouse", you do your best to keep away from a tank for half the time and then skulk around to obtain rocket launchers to gradually destroy it. Two separate times, I essentially suicided a life to make a checkpoint. Unintentionally, but that's what happened. During a "tank chasing you" scene, I must have JUST made it across an invisible line before it killed me. During the "fight back" part of the chapter, I basically shot it with a rocket WHILE it was killing me. Both times I was rewarded with a new checkpoint...for failing.

That's a great game, but I really disagree with all the "IT'S LIKE A MOVIE YOU PLAY 10/10!!!!!" reviews out there. The game begs for you to beat it. It makes it easy to advance. There are no battles of attrition to get through levels. All you have to do is clear one challenge to have your progress saved. As a couple of people here have scored it, this game's more of an 8/10 than a 10/10. It's a fun roller-coaster ride of a game, but it's easy and I don't think it has the staying power I'd expect of a true classic.

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zippdementia zippdementia - February 17, 2010 (11:00 AM)
The trick is that a lot of the challenge from the old gaming days came because controls weren't as good.

But that's another discussion as I am totally in agreement with you.

I think one of the problems has to do with how many options players are given these days. In the old days of challenge the way gaming worked was that you were presented with a situation and there was really ONE way to do it. Bosses had patterns you had to learn... jumps had to be timed right... you know what I mean.

In Contra, for instance, the trick was figuring out a boss' pattern and then performing the task (which was sometimes unfairly tough because of bad controls or a complete lack of checkpoints or because of few chances given). Devil May Cry was probably the last game to REALLY run with this formula again.

I think the hardest game I've played in recent memory was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, because I played it on Realistic setting where you have to juke the game and take advantage of the AI limitations to win.
randxian randxian - February 17, 2010 (04:50 PM)
but I really disagree with all the "IT'S LIKE A MOVIE YOU PLAY 10/10!!!!!" reviews out there.

Actually, it is like a movie if you think about it. In most action flicks, the hero is shot, sprayed by broken glass, beaten up by various thungs, run over, clipped by the edge of a huge explosion, etc. Yet somehow the hero trudges onward and manages to take out roughly several dozen goons armed to the teeth with uzis and rocket launchers, beat up the main villain's body guard - who is usually about 8 foot and 300lbs worth of muscle, and then beat the final bad guy while being faced down with a seemingly impossible situation.

I'd say the games you describe sound an awful lot like movies. So yeah, the hype that it plays like movies is accurate.
overdrive overdrive - February 18, 2010 (01:06 PM)
You know, I'm having trouble thinking of a recent game I've played that I'd consider legit challenging on a "normal" setting. A number of them have tricky parts, but they're few and far between. Some RPGs fit the bill (like Lost Odyssey, most Shin Megami Tensei games and Dragon Age: Origins where I regularly run into challenging battles).

But in more action-oriented genres, most seem to be easy on default difficulty. Far easier than back in the day. I'd agree that play control is a good part of that. A huge reason why, say, the old Castlevanias tended to be difficult was because of play control and the inability (in some games) to control your Belmont in mid-jump. But another big part was the very limited life meter and how health items were (a) rare and (b) hidden. So many games now make it pitifully easy to regenerate health. Particularly the new-age shooter games where all you have to do is avoid damage for a bit.

Rand: I kinda phrased that vaguely. I was trying to portray that, to me, the 10/10s primarily seem to be related to the "just like a movie" bit. It's a very good game, but like Arkham Asylum, it's not one that I'd be using "game of the year" tags with because of how easy it is to progress throughout the game due to how close checkpoints are. It's like really awesome junk food. But because of the presentation, I think it's gotten treated like filet mignon.
joseph_valencia joseph_valencia - February 18, 2010 (04:48 PM)

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