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I Am Not Very Good

August 26th, 2007 by Troy Goodfellow · 7 Comments · Me

The dirty secret of games journalists is that many of them are not very good at games. You won’t see them topping games ladders or schooling all newcomers. They play too many games to ever really excel and any one unless it is their sole pastime outside of the work environment.

This is doubly true when a games writer who specializes in a particular genre or area of expertise goes outside his/her safe zone to try something new and cool. In yet another distinction between games and movies, the former is a broad medium that can demand a much wider range of skills and talents. This is both its strength (something for everyone) and its weakness (some people will fail repeatedly at very good things.)

Still, well aware of my limitations in the FPS milieu, I am playing Bioshock at medium difficulty. I am currently in the Medical Pavilion area with one first aid pack, one hypodermic, 3 pistol bullets, a wrench and an empty machine gun. I have “died” so many times in this part of Rapture that the Vita Chamber should have a “Space Reserved For…” sign.

So do I suck it up and go down to easy just so I can enjoy this very creepy game? I’m loving all the little touches and really want to know what the hell is going on.

But I won’t get any better if I keep asking for underhand pitches and what if there is another great shooter next year?

I also won’t get any better if I keep freezing up when Nurse Ratched jumps out and beats me with a pipe.


7 Comments so far ↓

  • Justin Fletcher

    “But I won’t get any better if I keep asking for underhand pitches and what if there is another great shooter next year?”

    Then you’ll play it on “Easy,” too. I don’t think anyone will question your manhood if you drop the difficulty and actually have some fun.

    This is something I needlessly struggled with for years, playing everything on “Hard,” despite the fact that my skillz are less mad than bad. So I’d struggle through the same section of a game over and over again, sacrificing all enjoyment for the sake of proving my gamer cred to no one but myself.

    So dial it down and teach those splicers who’s boss. I don’t know about the PC version, but the 360 version allows you to change the difficulty at any time. If it starts getting boring, kick it back up a notch. You’ll get better. I did, and now I’m tooling around Rapture on “Hard.” I’m not setting the world on fire (just the oil slicks), but I’m holding my own.

  • Scott R. Krol

    It’s been opposite for me. I’ve been playing on ‘medium’ and for 80% of the game have found it fairly easy. Not so easy that I was breezing through, but except for one section in which I tried to be clever, I never felt frustrated. But I’m nearing the end of the game and suddenly everything has been kicked up several notches.

    Without knowing exactly what’s happening in your game here are a couple of general suggestions:

    1. Hack EVERYTHING. Life becomes much easier.
    2. Search everything. Become the packiest of pack rats.
    3. Listen. Sound is very integral, and you can usually avoid trouble if you listen before you leap.
    4. Head shots do more damage.

    I can’t recall if you’re at a place where you’ve had many choices for the plasmids. Do you still just have the electroshock one, or have you increased them? And is there a specific place you keep getting whacked on the level, or just in general is it one step forward, two steps back?

  • Alan

    I’m not entirely sure what happened, but games that seemed difficult to me when I played them years ago have suddenly become easy. The reason I’m puzzled is that I haven’t really had much time to game over the last few years… have I? Specifically, I went back and played NOLF2. It’s very good. It was easy. I don’t mean it was actually easy, just that I managed to play through it with minimum fuss. The same goes for Deus Ex, which I recently reinstalled.

    Of course, I’m not actually any good. I went back and played the original NOLF and found it harder than I remembered. Well, okay, that’s not fair, since I originally resorted to god mode during the final duel because, go figure, the final duel is actually hard. Painfully hard. Hard enough that I had to resort to god mode to get past it the first time.

    I guess what I’m saying is that my general gaming skill has improved through better mouse-precision from years of “practice.” Either that, or my memory is just faulty.

  • Dave Long

    If you’re really in that bad of shape, you should probably go back to easy.

    I started on Hard because the demo seemed too easy on Medium. I’m glad I did. Also in Medical now, but nearly done with it, I’ve got ample ammo. I have full health 7+ Eve, etc. I had a tiny bit of trouble at one point that reduced me to 0 Eve and 1 Health bar, but I’ve only died once.

    The game rewards you for being careful and considering your approach to the bad guys. There are a lot of ways to kill them quickly with minimal ammo use, but probably the most important thing is to have good aim.

  • Ken Wootton

    The medical facility is a great place to make this type of decision, Troy. You mention the Vita chamber, which is a pretty good mechanic early on because the penalty of dying is rather low. It’s a pain to visit and you can suss out if you’ll end up living there. Take a step (and possibly a saved game) back. Try Krol’s very good advice above and remember you don’t have to fight everything.

    I always worry about easy mode, myself. In many cases, e.g. Guitar Hero, it takes away a lot of what makes the game interesting and exciting while removing the major roadblock of challenge perhaps a bit too efficiently. In the case of Bioshock, where interesting and exciting == dread, I’d be very worried I’d lose some of the atmosphere of probably the most atmospheric game I’ve ever played.

    Good luck!

  • Justin Fletcher

    Also remember that, most of the time, you can choose the battlefield. Scout out the terrain and the security layout, and then bust out those mad strategy skillz and set some traps.

  • Alan

    “bust out those mad strategy skillz and set some traps.”

    I approve.