Seeing the future (Bioshock, Xbox 360, PC)
Eurogamer’s preview of Bioshock hits it home: the extremely promising spiritual successor to System Shock 2 is really on its way and just a couple of months away from release. And yes, it is still sounding good.
What got my attention was the bit on beginning the game. You’re going to make a choice of difficulty – easy, medium or hard. How can I make a judgement on how difficult an experience I want when I haven’t played the thing yet? Is this game’s “medium” way too much for me? Will have to think about restarting the game because it presents no challenge? What about when my playing skills advance throughout the game, will it become too easy? I never want to breeze through a game, yet I will not spend an evening trying to get through a single scene… so what’s it going to be? “Medium”? What’s that, like not entirely for wimps, but not for real gamers, either?
Every game should have an adjustable difficulty, coupled with an adaptive one. Enemies get better as you do, and if you feel that you need to finetune the level of challenge, you can. There haven’t been too many games this smart, though. I know I greet every chance to tweak difficulty mid-game with joy (for instance: thank you, Oblivion).
I’m going to give a grand total of two videogames a clean pass on this, regardless of fixed difficulty: Doom and Halo. Halo has a perfect difficulty curve (for my average FPS skills, that is) and each level of difficulty is just what they promise. Like the original Doom before it, Halo has made the difficulty level part of the game’s overall lure. You want to clear them on higher difficulty levels and once you finally tackle Nightmare or Legendary mode, you know you’re the shit.