Aliens trying to wipe out Earth. Zombies have taken over the world. A plumber actually gets something done.
These are all hard to believe premises we instantly buy into when we play video games so we can get to the action. Once the action begins, the hard to believe premises shift over the to the game play mechanics – the ways we control that character. There are just some video game tropes that take you out of the action for a second and make you think, “There’s no way that could happen” but without them the game would be an annoying, overly realistic mess.
These are some of those tropes…
Video games give us powers far beyond real life: normal people become armored Rambos capable of taking on an entire warzone, and social maladjusts who never leave the couch become capable of annoying those normal people. The control pad confers enough power to turn a palm-sweat-drinking bacteria into a space marine, and that would still be a better teammate than some of the @$$#0!%$ you meet online.
Games have a hard mode for the same reason men do: it can be incredibly frustrating to keep doing the same thing over and over, but success feels amazing. Nightmare difficulty was how gaming used to deal with obsessives who memorized every pixel of the map but forgot how to work their bedroom door handle, back before Xbox Live connected them together for the world’s most schizophrenically homophobic trash-talk. (When you enjoy digitally teabagging dead men you lose all right to criticize other lifestyles.)
Some games increased difficulty by adding enemies, others by removing ammunition and missing the whole point of a game with ammunition in it. Forcing players to count bullets while battling hell’s demons isn’t fun, it’s how you train an accountant to stay boring under enemy fire.
But we were raised by movies which taught us that going up against an enemy army with half a pistol wasn’t just fun, it’s how you get to first base. That’s why I’m focusing on truly difficult games for “Nightmare Mode”–games which aren’t just hard, but hard to play. Games of such horrific design and concept they make Silent Hill look like Mario World. Games like Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad
Yesterday saw the release (and the subsequent launch problems) of Diablo III. Now that your body has forced you to surface for bathroom, food, and sleep, we’d like to entertain you with an oral history of how the Diablo franchise turned role-playing into a respectable activity–or a remorseless addiction. It’s a matter of perspective, really.
Seriously, how did that mess get made before the increasingly relevant Monopoly? And why did space aliens let themselves get dragged into a naval battle? And why is Peter Berg wasting his time with this crap after the awesome Friday Night Lights? And–and–ugh. At least have the honesty to admit there’s no story here, just splodey, and commit to a Rihanna/Brooklyn Decker pillow fight scene.
Just click on and see what other games we’d rather see than Battleship.