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Retro DarqByte: Too Hard?

Gamer of Darqness; Jun. 21, 2010; By Robert F. Ludwick
Type: Commentary

As I will now be doing my video game blogging here at OMGN instead of my personal blog DarqByte, I decided to migrate some of my retro video game posts from there. Here's the first one, called Too Hard?


Retro video games almost always had enormously difficult levels in them. Take the original Donkey Kong, for example. Even the early levels in that game were tough. You had to be insanely awesome to reach even, say, the 10th level.

When video games started becoming mainstream, they started getting a little easier. If you’re trying to appeal to a wide audience, then that wide audience needs to eventually be able to beat the game. That isn’t to say the game should be a cakewalk, but it certainly shouldn’t put up a brick wall so tough that only Jonathan Wendel can defeat it.

So since I’ve defeated Fallout 3′s main quest, I’ve been sprinkling in other games. I’ve been mostly playing Dead Space, which is awesome by the way. But I’ve also been playing some Need For Speed: Undercover and Guitar Hero: World Tour.

Tonight I was playing NFS. It’s a fun game, even if it’s not totally deep and whatnot. In the game, you’ll occasionally get "jobs" from another local racer. Basically, the job is to steal a specific car and drop it off at a chop shop. A bit like GTA, actually.

The police force in the game is pretty effective. You can’t lose them easily and at the higher levels, they’re a downright, well, force to be dealt with. If you end up getting the helicopter following you, good luck, because you’ll never lose it. You have to outlast it.

So all this step for, I know you’re expecting it — a car theft while being followed by the top-tier police force with a helicopter. And let’s not stop there, ohh no — you can’t total the car either. If it sustains too much damage, theft over.

I’ve done a couple other thefts in the game so far and they’re really not that bad. One of them had the same mechanics, save for swapping out the helicopter for a timer that you had to beat in getting to the chop shop without police presence.

But this one is, so far, ludicrous. I’m always up for a challenge in the games I play, but this is just too far. The story won’t progress unless you complete the jobs. You can’t unlock better cars and parts without completing the jobs. And here I am, relatively early on in the game, presented with such a big challenge that after about 45-60 minutes of trying, I have to stop and write an irked blog post about it.

Some people lately have been lamenting that games have indeed gotten easier as time has gone on. In some of them, all you really have to do is play long enough to beat it. But basically blocking, let’s say 60%+ of a game’s story because of a ridiculously difficult "job?" Come on. This is stupid. The last thing EA needs is for me to feel ripped off because here’s this $60 game that I can’t play anywhere near all of because of some stupidly difficult challenge early on.

See… Think about it this way. If the difficult challenge is for you to solve some puzzle or something of that nature, that’s ok. At the very least, you could look up the solution online. If the difficult challenge is to perform a set of actions in particular order with good timing or whatnot, that’s alright too. But when the challenge is, say, losing a really good police force AI with a helicopter while not totalling a car… Stupid hard.

EA didn’t play the balancing act well on this one. If I get held up on this one spot too long, I’ll feel really ripped off and may not play the game again, or any other future NFS game...

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