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Are console games getting too easy?


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#1 of 34 OFFLINE   Jefferson Morris

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Posted December 09 2008 - 08:40 AM

Now, I'm not a glutton for punishment when it comes to difficulty (I gave up on Ninja Gaiden Sigma after the 6th chapter--it felt too much like work), but it seems that a number of recent titles are, well, pretty darned easy on their "normal" difficulty setting.

Fable II, for example, was a breeze. No real penalty for "dying," but then again I didn't die even once after the Tattered Spire quest--and then only because they had taken my augmented weapons away. And you can't change the difficulty setting.

Fallout 3 also felt a bit on the easy side. When I had leveled up sufficiently I bumped the difficulty up and didn't even notice the difference--I was still creaming everything. Admittedly, I guess some RPG'ers like this feeling of invulnerability--their reward for grinding and careful looting--but it made the latter half of the game a little boring for me.

The Force Unleashed felt a little too easy on its normal difficulty setting as well. "Sith Lord" difficulty should have been the normal setting, I think.

I'm also reminded of Bioshock and its revitalization chambers.

Now I hear you can't die at all in the new Prince of Persia. Far cry from earlier games in that series.

That's only a handful of examples, but I'm just throwing the idea out there.

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"From the two trailers I've seen, the movie looks like AIDS."--Recent thread post on AICN

#2 of 34 OFFLINE   Morgan Jolley

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Posted December 09 2008 - 01:31 PM

What's more important: having a gamer play a game that is incessantly challenging or providing an experience that most people can finish? Would it be worth making 30+ hours of content if the game was so difficult that people stop playing at 5? There have actually been essays written on the subject, and I think it's generally not an issue, especially right now. For example, I recently bought Bioshock for PS3 and I'm really enjoying it. The challenge isn't what makes me enjoy it, it's more the aura, atmosphere, and everything else more than how tough it is. In addition to that, if I want a challenge then I don't need to refer to the difficulty of the game because I always have a list of trophies that I can try to obtain.

Achievements (on 360 and PC) and Trophies (on PS3) really make the concept of difficulty moot. They add an extra layer of challenge for hardcore players without alienating softcore gamers from the core experience. And honestly, any growth for the industry is good, so I support games that are easier or more approachable. A well-designed game will either have multiple difficulty levels, added content, or some other bonus objectives for hardcore gamers anyway.

#3 of 34 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted December 09 2008 - 02:49 PM

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#4 of 34 OFFLINE   Jari K

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Posted December 10 2008 - 02:17 AM

I don´t think that the games are "too easy". You can always (well, often at least) choose "hard" (or "impossible" etc) if you like. Based on what I´ve heard, many actually choose "hard", "Impossible" etc over "normal" ("easy" is for pu**ies! Posted Image Posted Image ).

I always choose "normal" and the challenge is still there, IMO (at least for me). I don´t really want to go back to the days where saving the game progress is very difficult (=usually meaning the lack of save opportunities like in e.g. "Tomb Raider 3" - now that was a challenge!).

Then again, I´m not a huge fan of these super-boss fights, where you first have to learn/memorize some difficult pattern etc to beat the boss (=try and try and try again..). Why not sometimes have these "check points" between these harder boss fights also (at least in "easy" or "normal")? It´s kinda annoying to start over the whole thing, just because you die in the last section/minute/second (meaning these "boss fights")..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morgan Jolley
...if I want a challenge then I don't need to refer to the difficulty of the game because I always have a list of trophies that I can try to obtain.

Very good point. I think these "trophies" and "achievements" are THE challenge for this "new" generation of gamers. They (often) want to have them all. AAAAALL! Posted Image

I´m an "old school" gamer myself, so I don´t really care that much about these "trophies/achievements". Sure, they´re nice additions and gives that certain "positive boost" during the game, but generally I don´t really think about them. I just want to "finish" the game and move on (not always the case, since there might be some DL stuff - like new levels, challenges, etc). Hell, I just finished games like GoW2 and R2, but haven´t really tried multiplayer yet! So I guess I´m really "old school".. Posted Image

#5 of 34 OFFLINE   drobbins

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Posted December 10 2008 - 05:56 AM

Talk about old school - I grew up where centipede and tron were the hard games. I guess I am too old, but I enjoy games that use mainly the 2 joysticks and a button or two, not the 3-4 button combos that many of the newer games require. Being as I don't play often enough where the controller is an extension of my hand, simple is good. My son who grew up with these controllers kicks my butt and I don't even try the online play. There is no way a casual 1-2 time per month player can attempt to keep up with others who live in the game.

I also like the cheat codes. When my son was younger it was frustrating to spend $60 on a new game and he couldn't play the whole game because there was always one level he couldn't get past. The cheat codes allowed him to get past that level and enjoy the rest of the game that we paid for.

The most fun I have had playing recently was Lego Star Wars. I think it was due to the ease of learning the controls. I have tried games like Halo and Call of Duty, but I am dead meat due to fumbling. I would like to see mentally harder games with less reliance on the controls. Many games are hard for me because the controller is not natural for me. For instance a flying game. For me pushing the joystick forward should fly the plane down, not up as most games set the default. The same should go for looking around. In Halo my natural reaction is to pull back to aim higher for a head shot. So I pull back and blast his feet off. To me the game is not that hard, it is using the controller.

#6 of 34 OFFLINE   Jefferson Morris

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Posted December 10 2008 - 10:14 AM

Morgan,

Good point about the achievements/trophies. I hadn't really thought about that. Like Jari, their importance to gamers has somewhat mystified me, but I guess that's where the competitive spirit of gamers has migrated to. Achievements have taken the place of the old King of Kong-style high score rivalries of old.

I'm pleased when I see an achievement pop up, but I've never bothered seeking them out deliberately.

I agree that Bioshock is a great game that can pretty much get by on atmosphere alone. If one eschews the revitalization chambers, then the game is still pretty difficult, but I found the temptation to use them too great, particularly after wearing down a Big Daddy.

Same thing for Fable II--the lack of difficulty didn't spoil the game or anything. But I still do somewhat miss the challenge of combat. I find I need to risk frustration to experience real satisfaction in a game.

Quote:
For me pushing the joystick forward should fly the plane down, not up as most games set the default. The same should go for looking around.
I hear ya, Dave. Same with me--I grew up on the old Atari 2600 joysticks, where pulling back made you look up. I have to go into every game I play nowadays to invert the y-axis.

--Jefferson Morris
"If fakes, they were masterpieces."

--The New York Times commenting on Willis O'Brien's dinosaurs in The Lost World (1925).

"From the two trailers I've seen, the movie looks like AIDS."--Recent thread post on AICN

#7 of 34 OFFLINE   Jari K

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Posted December 10 2008 - 08:08 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by drobbins
There is no way a casual 1-2 time per month player can attempt to keep up with others who live in the game.

This is pretty much true. Many younger gamers spend plenty of time with these various online-games, when many "old school"-gamers have more limited time on their hands.

I mean if you have to "choose" between the 5 hours of "story mode" (constantly going forward, new enemies, puzzles, story angles, etc) vs 5 hours of rather repetitive online-gaming (well, for many it´s "competitive", I guess.. Posted Image ), I´m sure many (not all) of the "old school"-gamers choose the "story mode".

Don´t get me wrong, online-gaming can be fun (I do that every once in a while), but for me it´s a bit odd to play against total strangers (I never use any headsets, since I don´t have much faith on many of these online-gamers.. Posted Image ). Games like "Warhawk" (I believe e.g. CoD4 also, perhaps many others?) let you choose your own "private game", where you can invite ONLY your friends - or at least people you know. That´s where the fun is for me. Killing a guy named "jason234563" is not really that fun, IMO..

But - this is just me, of course. Story mode is the heart of gaming, IMO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drobbins
I also like the cheat codes. When my son was younger it was frustrating to spend $60 on a new game and he couldn't play the whole game because there was always one level he couldn't get past. The cheat codes allowed him to get past that level and enjoy the rest of the game that we paid for.

This is just my opinion (again), but IMO that´s not the best way to approach the situation (where you´re a bit "stuck" in the game or something like that). I never (well, I did use cheat codes ONCE in "Dead Space" to get a bit more money - and I´m ashamed of that.. Posted Image ) use "cheat codes", BUT sometimes I read some tips from these various FAQ/Walkthroughs (one of the best places to do that is Video Game Cheats, Reviews, FAQs, Message Boards, and More - GameFAQs ).

IMO (again), it´s probably best to read tips from the proper "walkthroughs" at least first - usually that´s enough. For the younger gamers perhaps even that is not enough, but then again games have age limits.. Some games just aren´t meant for everybody - certainly not for kids (generally speaking here).

But yes, of course you want to enjoy the game that you´ve paid for, so if it means "cheat codes" for the kids, so be it. As long as gaming is fun (without losing ALL the "challenge", though). Posted Image

#8 of 34 OFFLINE   angelinalove

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Posted December 10 2008 - 11:11 PM

playing video games is not so easy but if you are crazy behind that and applying your effort you will come to klearn soon. Foe ex I was not good on wii games but i love to play I started to spend few hrs and now I know how to play Nintendo Wii Mario Kart
and guitar hero world tour still not perfect.Now a days nothing is tough.

#9 of 34 OFFLINE   Jefferson Morris

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Posted December 11 2008 - 04:10 AM

I'll be frank--I'm simply intimidated by the online multiplayer fragfests. I know I would get my ass handed to me (I'm a methuselan 36 years old). Multiplayer has brought the trash-talking and competitive bragadoccio of live sports into the video gaming world. I thought we were playing video games to escape that schoolyard crap. Eh, I guess I'm just a pussy.

The single-player campaigns in many shooters are now little more than tutorials for the online experience, it seems. I still can't believe that every game reviewer on the planet let Call of Duty 4 off the hook for having a campaign that only lasted 5-6 hours or so. It was a good campaign, but still.

--Jefferson Morris
"If fakes, they were masterpieces."

--The New York Times commenting on Willis O'Brien's dinosaurs in The Lost World (1925).

"From the two trailers I've seen, the movie looks like AIDS."--Recent thread post on AICN

#10 of 34 OFFLINE   drobbins

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Posted December 11 2008 - 05:53 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jefferson Morris
The single-player campaigns in many shooters are now little more than tutorials for the online experience, it seems. --Jefferson Morris
This is my impression also. Even in other games the first few levels just teach you how the game works

To answer the original question, I guess it depends on your skill level. If you are a "Gamer" who can spend 2-3 hours a day, 2-3 days a week, Yes I think the games are easier for you. Only because it is hard to come up with original ideas that haven't been done already. Also after a while your AI opponents actions are predictable.

If you are someone who has 1-2 hours, 1-2 days a month, there aren't many games that are easy enough to pick up quickly, yet challenging enough to be interesting.

Quote:
I mean if you have to "choose" between the 5 hours of "story mode" (constantly going forward, new enemies, puzzles, story angles, etc) vs 5 hours of rather repetitive online-gaming (well, for many it´s "competitive", I guess.. Posted Image ), I´m sure many (not all) of the "old school"-gamers choose the "story mode".
I think I would also, but that would mean that I have to kick my son off. I have tried playing him, but he just uses me as target practice.

We have had a Nintendo 64, Game Cube, PS2, Wii, and now XBox. The new games that he is getting for the XBox are the first games that I don't have time to master. I guess I can't expect him to play Mario Party for ever Posted Image

#11 of 34 OFFLINE   Aaron Silverman

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Posted December 11 2008 - 07:23 AM

I hear ya. Two of my high school buddies (I'm 37), who live in other states, just ordered PS3s. I am FINALLY interested in online play! Posted Image
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#12 of 34 OFFLINE   Jari K

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Posted December 16 2008 - 02:38 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jefferson Morris
Multiplayer has brought the trash-talking and competitive bragadoccio of live sports into the video gaming world.

Sadly, this is at least partly true. And the reason why I never use any headsets (at least with "strangers"). I never hear any of that "trash talk".

Online gaming can be fun, but if that´s the only real form of "gaming" that some people do (and quickly rush the "story mode" through - so that they can start playing online)... Well, good luck with that.

When some others use that 10 hours to play online, I just pick up another game - and another "story mode". That´s where the gaming is! Posted Image Time is limited for me, I don´t have the luxury to play 10 hours a day in online.. (but sure, I do understand why people do it - no problem).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jefferson Morris
The single-player campaigns in many shooters are now little more than tutorials for the online experience, it seems. I still can't believe that every game reviewer on the planet let Call of Duty 4 off the hook for having a campaign that only lasted 5-6 hours or so. It was a good campaign, but still.

I can´t fully agree on this one. For the last year or so, I have played Call of Duty 4, Gears of War 2, Resistance 2, Brothers in Arms: Hells Highway, etc (story mode, I mean) and I have enjoyed pretty much all of them (quality games, all of them). Sure, some could be a bit longer etc, but "story modes" are still going strong in the gaming world.

I guess you just get "two games in a price of one":
1) Story mode, with "traditional" stuff to keep e.g. the "old school"-gamers and such happy and..
2) Online- gaming, for the newer generation (or the new, I´m sure both play online).
You can "choose" - or play both.

#13 of 34 OFFLINE   Edwin-S

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Posted December 16 2008 - 04:23 AM

They are not making them too easy. They are making them too short. A lot of developers are stiffing the story mode in favor of on-line play. On-line play is fine if a person just likes to run and gun, but I like to play games where I get to unlock the next part of the story. Developers are starting to stiff gamers who prefer single player mode.

I guess that is why I still like playing old franchises like the Tomb Raider series. At least I feel like I'm getting my money's worth. Tomb Raider: Underworld is my present favorite.
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#14 of 34 OFFLINE   Jefferson Morris

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Posted December 16 2008 - 07:58 AM

Edwin,

I agree. That phenomenon has pushed me away from shooters and more towards RPGs. You definitely get your money's worth with a Fallout 3 (which I spent over 80 hours on and still left plenty unexplored) or a Fable II.

I guess the temptation is just too great for developers to rush out an abbreviated campaign, then put their energy into downloadables and multiplayer maps that keep gamers playing and purchasing for months or even years after the title is initially released.

However, I must say that Gears of War 2 is proving the exception to this thread, for me. I'm playing the solo campaign on hardcore, and it's very challenging and rewarding. Not to mention long, in terms of hours spent...since I'm constantly replaying sections after dying.

Another supposed exception is Far Cry 2. A friend of mine spent over 30 hours on that. I've borrowed it from him but not yet started.

Glad to hear you like Underworld. I've been waffling on whether to get that. The camera seemed a little wonky in the demo--more than once I had to take leaps of faith into the unknown. But now maybe I'll give that another look.

--Jefferson Morris
"If fakes, they were masterpieces."

--The New York Times commenting on Willis O'Brien's dinosaurs in The Lost World (1925).

"From the two trailers I've seen, the movie looks like AIDS."--Recent thread post on AICN

#15 of 34 OFFLINE   Morgan Jolley

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Posted December 16 2008 - 02:41 PM

Just because a game is short doesn't mean it's not worth the money. Call of Duty 4, we can agree, is a very good game with a strong online mode and a short, but amazing, single player mode. There are moments in the single player campaign that really made that game stand out for me. Maybe it was only 5-6 hours long, but who cares if it's that good? I could get a game that is 30 hours long but sucks, or a game like Rock Band that has potentially unlimited replay value. It's the quality of the experience, IMO, and in each case YMMV.

#16 of 34 OFFLINE   Aaron Silverman

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Posted December 17 2008 - 02:22 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morgan Jolley
Just because a game is short doesn't mean it's not worth the money.

It does if you don't play online. But that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with making a good online game.
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#17 of 34 OFFLINE   Jari K

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Posted December 17 2008 - 02:28 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Edwin-S
I guess that is why I still like playing old franchises like the Tomb Raider series. At least I feel like I'm getting my money's worth. Tomb Raider: Underworld is my present favorite.

Here here. I have always loved Tomb Raider, even when those games are not "perfect" or anything. They have that certain "magic" of exploring - with proper feel of adventure and puzzles that these FPS/shooters doesn´t have (different genre).

I´m in the last "section" of TR:Underworld. Some areas (like the camera angles and dull "action scenes" - not much challenge on that front) are lacking, but I do like the game. It´s made for the TB-fans. 8/10. Posted Image

#18 of 34 OFFLINE   Morgan Jolley

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Posted December 17 2008 - 11:31 AM

I never played CoD4 online but still think it was worth the money I paid for it. In full disclosure, I got it used and at a lower price.

#19 of 34 OFFLINE   Jefferson Morris

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Posted December 18 2008 - 04:01 AM

Don't get me wrong--COD4 had a strong single-player campaign. But it was bloody short. Maybe 6 hours at most. A game couldn't have gotten away with that, multiplayer or no, in years past. But it's becoming par for the course, now.

But again, Gears of War is the exception, which is part of why I consider it without peer among shooters. They still put a lot of effort and imagination into their campaign mode.

And of course, thank God for Bioshock--A 16-18 hour campaign, and no multiplayer at all. Nothing to distract 2K Boston from making the campaign all it could be. But of course I imagine they'll have to have multiplayer modes in Bioshock 2...and most likely a shorter campaign.

--Jefferson Morris
"If fakes, they were masterpieces."

--The New York Times commenting on Willis O'Brien's dinosaurs in The Lost World (1925).

"From the two trailers I've seen, the movie looks like AIDS."--Recent thread post on AICN

#20 of 34 OFFLINE   Steve_Tk

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Posted January 13 2009 - 05:35 AM

I recently became addicted to playing Call of Duty:World at War online. I never hooked up my ps3 online because I assumed I wouldn't use it. It was easier than I thought it was going to be.

Playing online is way to addictive. In the regular game, I learn where the enemies are coming from, adapt, and defeat them. Online I'm playing against other players, who are unpredictable, and there is always someone better than me no matter how good I get. It's always dynamic and so much fun.


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