Rise up to the challenge

In contrast to a previous post on this subject, ‘Measuring Difficulty in Games‘ I’ve come up with an interesting slant on this topic.  I was having a chat with Rockers Delight and it sparked the ol’ grey matter into action.  I ask: Do you actually challenge yourself enough when it comes to gaming?

If you were to go to the gym and hit the treadmill, you’d set it at a level you’re comfortable with, then every now and then you might kick it up a gear and see how you cope with it.  Same with the weights room when you’re polishing those guns.  Ahem.  The point it, when trying to attain peak physical fitness, you don’t stay within your comfort zone, you try and raise the bar, up your game, and other clichés.

On a game like Modern Warfare 2 for example, I take the standard approach of having a play-through on regular difficulty before trying again on a harder difficulty level.  Rockers Delight prefers heading straight in on veteran or else she wouldn’t enjoy it.  When you’re at the top of your game, why not?  I’ve never started a game right from the beginning and put it straight onto hard, yet there’s always one exception to the rule…

Continue reading Rise up to the challenge

Measuring Difficulty in Games

How do you measure difficulty levels in games? Can you measure them?  I suppose what I’m really asking is who says what games are classified as being: difficult, tricky, mildly taxing, relatively easy or a cake walk?  I hope by now you’ve figured out that it’s really each and every single one of us.  It’s totally subjective.

Some will have you believe that game difficulty is measured solely on consensus of opinion by the hardcore gamers.  A good example is Modern Warfare 2.  Consensus of opinion says that it is easier than it’s predecessor.  I’ve found it quite challenging on normal settings thank you very much!  I’ve often found myself holed down in a relatively safe spot before hearing a loud THWACK and either seeing another inspiring quote or reading the sage words of advice such as ‘vehicles on fire may explode’ and  ‘it might be an idea to stay way from grenades going off’ from what I call the game’s hindsight detector.

Ok, so I ad-libbed those pieces of advice.  But what I’m trying to get at is that sometimes before I knew it, I had died more times than Bill Murray in the space of a minute!  The Gulag level springs to mind, for instance.  This may sound like I’m complaining, but I’m not.  In this case, the controls are spot-on, gameplay is realistic, and the challenge is set at such a level that the appetite to try just one more time never diminishes.  I’m looking forward to another run through of the game on hardened and veteran.

I can say that Modern Warfare 2 has been the most challenging game I’ve come across for quite some time.  Looking at other games I can say that yes, Uncharted 2 is easier than the first game, Burnout Paradise really is easy, Arkham Asylum’s main story is easy enough but the challenge rooms are tough and Assassin’s Creed II is easy.  But those are just my words which may seem empty if your experiences have differed.  I’m only speaking for myself here.  The bit I love about this topic though, is that everyone’s opinion is valid.

Does anyone want to share some of their experiences with different games?  The only people I don’t want to hear from are unemployed teenagers who do a 9 till 6 shift gaming.  I just can’t compete with that.  😉

Patapon Revisited

A few months ago I got myself Patapon shortly after its release and quickly became addicted to it.  What I began to realise though, was how nail-bitingly hard it could be in certain places of the game.  One easy example, is the difficulty many people had in figuring out how to cross the desert.  Once you know how, it’s quite easy.  But in the game itself, you are more or less left to try and figure it out for yourself- if you can.

Patapon in action

This probably explains why the PlayStation.Blog team had to lend us a helping hand.  Also equally frustrating is the ease at which you can lose the beat.  From my own personal experience, this has made me want to throw my PSP at the nearest wall after trying to complete the same level 5 times in a row.  So I left the game and vowed to return to it once I had calmed down…

What I have been doing for the past couple of years now, is taking my PSP with me on holiday and having a quick gaming session before I go to bed.  Last year I took LocoRoco and completed all levels (not all quite 100% yet though!) and this year has been Patapon’s turn.  Yes, about 4 months after I had last touched the game, I decided to revisit Patapon and see how far I could get this time.

Surprisingly, I found that I wasn’t losing the beat as easily, but I think this was down to a new technique.  Heard the advice (includng my own) about tapping with your foot to the beat?  Forget about it- repeating “pata, pata, pata, pon” or whatever drum beat you’re doing, in your head, in-between your turn is very helpful in keeping the beat.  Why is it otherwise so hard to keep the beat in fever mode?  This is because the fever mode music can trip you up, especially when the music starts.  I have found this to be THE most unhelpful feature of any game- ever!

Let my little story not distract you from the main point- this game is fantastic!  You just need a lot of time and patience as Patapon is amazingly deep.  Think you’ve done it all?  Well, you haven’t.  There’s just so many rare Patapons, weapons and materials to collect.  Get frustrated at time?  Give the game a rest and then get back to it, feeling refreshed.  Some games are like a fine wine: they get better with age.  That is why, although I’ve never actually reviewed Patapon, I’ll give it a 9/10 just because it deserves it.  If you haven’t picked it up yet, you need to!  Its essential for your PSP.