Easy. Medium. Hard.
The eternal dilemma.By default I tend to opt for Medium, a deep-seeded ethical shame preventing me from picking the Easy option. For most games this difficulty corresponds to attributes such as health, firepower and currency - each of which is dropped to increase the game's difficulty. For some games the Medium works perfectly well, providing a healthy balance of challenge and fluent progression. Hard and Expert type modes are often seen as gruelling, gauntlet type escapades that can only really be attempted if the player already has mentally mapped out the game on an easier setting. Veteran on Modern Warfare, for example, is not so much a demonstration of highly tuned skill than an exercise in trial and error. To complete each mission in one violent sweep (aha) would be a true portrayal of skill, but the gritty reality is that the mission is broken down to checkpoint-chunk sized portions which must be scaled as individual mountains of suffering. The enjoyment rating plummets, but the satisfaction-upon-completion rating shoots way, way up.
And then I started playing Dragon Age: Originsa game which, when played through on Medium, began to frustrate me in a way that I found hard to comprehend. Playing through the game on medium, I was desperate to progress with the engaging storyline - but found myself repeatedly bottlenecked into impassable objectives due to my lack of skill - or perhaps my unappreciative approach to the traditionalist RPG genre. Instead of evolving my playing style to compliment the game, I merely turned the difficulty down to easy so that I could stubbornly progress with my own apparently insufficient strategies. So, who is the real loser here? Me, for being a fucking pussy and putting the game on easy, or the game for requiring me to play on easy instead of teaching me to play on medium.
Well, in retrospect I would probably answer neither. The game offers such a convincing series of event in which to take part the difficulty fades into a secondary priority. As storytelling goes, Dragon Age is a game that should be experienced by all, and if to do so one must play on an easy setting, I think that small faux-pas is perhaps excusable. Just this once...
IN OTHER NEWSThere's a really awesome article by Steven Poole in the back of this months EDGE which beautifully emphasises some of the stuff I clumsily tried to articulate several weeks ago:
I was just about to say that...
"We are living through an age in which the fabulous ingenuity of craft is being lavished upon the realisation of a pathologically adolescent imagination."
Oh and, by the way, this song is amazing.
Thanks For Reading