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Friday, September 19, 2014

The Friday 10: Ten last gen games that nearly made me rage-quit on the hardest difficulty

List by Jedediah H.

Everyone likes a top-10 list. They're a bit of fun, and always good for discussion. And so every so often we pull together a "top 10" list. These are here for fun and laughs - we're not pretending that we're the authority of good games taste in the world and this is purely the author's preference. Agree with him/ her or not, it's all good.

Hi, everyone. I'm Jedediah H., and I'm a gaming masochist. Unlike most of the population who games to relax, gain inspiration, fill a space that would otherwise be occupied by daydreams or banal conversation, or gain respite from the fiancée who won't quit complaining about the price of gas, I game for one unremarkable purpose - to punish myself daffy. I trek through games on the hardest difficulty for an eye-deadening amount of time just so I can look at my reflection through my dim smart-phone screen and say, "You'll never finish this game, soft-spot! Give it up!"

And while I absolutely demolish almost every title brazen enough to challenge my resolve, some of them contain moments that have gathered such illogical infuriation, I almost considered staging a hunger strike amidst the vehicles within the respective developer's parking lot (but then I remembered, "Dude, you did this to yourself.")

So to share my experiences, here are the games of last generation, and the specific moments of outrage, that nearly had me rage-quitting on the hardest difficulty. May they never be played in this manner by the almighty Bruce Banner.

Warriors: Legends of Troy

This sword-and-sandals hack-n-slash may have been universally butchered by critics, but that didn't stop me from greasing up my stabbing arm and giving the game a go for myself. I mean, you get to play as Achilles and pretend like you're Brad Pitt (or play as Brad Pitt and pretend like you're Achilles)! Unlike Dynasty Warriors, if you don't block, parry, and dodge roll like a precise maniac, a single enemy could end your heroic flurry with well-placed strikes to the torso, even on normal difficulty. The fighting system is entirely skill-based, which only made me angrier when...


The moment of near-outrage: A group of assassins humiliate me on repeat

I was hackin', slashin', and gurglin' the blood of my enemies as a warrior like Hector is entitled to do, when I was given the option to complete a side mission that involved wiping out a group of assassins, one of the more troublesome enemy units, at a side entrance. Of course, I trotted to the way-point chock full of vanity, and these four dudes ganged up on me as though my sword was a giant weakness-flavoured lollipop. I died. Countless tries later after taking out at least 30 guys, I discovered I was at the wrong way-point. Curse the world and my eyes for unclear objectives!


Earth Defense Force 2025

Do you adore Starship Troopers? Was there a stage during your adolescent years when you sprinted to the desks of fellow students and bewildered teachers screaming, "A GOOD BUG IS A DEAD BUG?!" Well, then there's absolutely no reason for you not to be currently enrolled in the EDF, a game about executing enormous ants, spiders, (dragons!), and bipedal robots with a wacky but effective arsenal of weapons and gadgets. But take heed; on the higher difficulties, these parasites could give two emaciated human carcasses about your fire-power, which leads to...


The moment of near-outrage: Getting blown asunder by the alien mother-ship

In some science-fiction, such as The Arrival, aliens are pretty subtle with their invasion methods, assimilating into our society over a period of decades. But in EDF, these invaders ex-foliate their legs with so-called "subtlety" and opt for pure shock-and-awe, which is why the last mission involves taking out an entire mother-ship that covers the city's skyline. On the aptly dubbed "Inferno" difficulty, my three other squad mates and I couldn't take five cautious steps without being blasted by random lasers of unknown origin. We fought hard and bravely for 40 minutes, but ultimately perished in a light show of shame. I never saw those guys on-line again.



Way of the Samurai 4

I've always dreamed about dashing around a fictional Japanese port town sporting a tie-dye shower curtain, making enemies with overly-serious Shogunate forces, sneaking into NPC's homes and romancing them by incapacitating their relatives with comedic slaps to the back of the neck, screaming DELICIOUS TIME as I order sushi - oh, you get the idea. This exotic and eccentric open-world samurai simulator allowed me to do all that. But you know what it also allowed me to do? Summon the anger of the samurai (that's a thing, right?)


The moment of near-outrage: Failing to recover a lunatic homeless thief's junk

While exploring the town, I met an odd man standing between two houses who offered several missions that ranged from "respectfully steal an item from a dead body in a graveyard" to "bump into this rich lady and make her drop her goods." Later on, he asked me to beat up a couple of travelling merchants to recover his "junk." When I reached the merchants, everyone, including the sour rice balls on display at the food vendor, pulled out swords and cut me down with a single slice. It didn't matter that I had levelled up my sword through multiple play-throughs on less strict difficulties. And because this was fictional Japan, I was glistening red with dishonour.


Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge

Although we enjoyed it for what it was, the vanilla version of Ninja Gaiden 3 was despised critically, commercially, and publicly for toning down the series' infamous difficulty, stripping Ryu's arsenal from his myriad of deathly ninja tools to a single sword (which was alleviated later by DLC), and poorly contextualising Ryu's need for bloodshed. Razor's Edge was, in my mind, an honourable attempt at rectifying a few of these woes. But when decapitating through this adventure on Ultimate Master Ninja difficulty, as I've played the equivalent of this difficulty in the previous NG titles, it was completely obvious that these refinements were never meant to be in the game in the first place.


The moment of near-outrage: Two spider tanks tag-team my ninja buns

Spiders are jerks. They spin webs at eye-level so as to mock us with a face full of sticky terror as we try to exercise in the verdant public park. Mechanised spiders on the other hand don't spin webs; they spit fire, launch rockets, and release surges of electricity as compensation. So when I faced two of these metallic monstrosities, one would zap my rosy cheeks with electricity while the other riddled my ham strings with rockets. And, oh, how they danced in circles as they did so! Thankfully, I eventually defeated them by employing the old "spin my scythe like a man on fire" technique, because yes, I was actually on fire.


Max Payne 3

I'm not an alcoholic or a sure-shot ex-cop with a tragic back-story, but one thing Max and I share is our comedic level of self deprecation. He is one of the only playable characters I can think of who refers to himself as a "rent-a-clown" and a "loser" as often as a mainstream hip hop star refers to himself as a rich, baby-smooth womaniser. It was this humorous criticism of himself that helped me gun-sling my way through some of Max Payne 3's most brutal moments. Well, moments besides this ultra-lame sequence...


The moment of near-outrage: Receiving head-shots on a precarious rooftop 

It was a millisecond of stark desperation. Surrounded by armed goons from equal and elevated positions, there was no other option. Max waved the C4 detonator like it was a report card with exemplary marks, boasting about his suicidal determination. With nothing left to lose, he put pressure on the trigger and - hey, wait a second! Don't blow up the building while we're on the roof, you idiot! Do you realize what will happen? The building will tremble, we'll be blasted in the frontal lobe in slow motion by snipers whilst attempting to dodge-shoot, and we'll have to retry this freakin' sequence 15 freakin' times until the game says "I'm bored with this" and freakin' crashes on us! (Before the game crashed, Max's character model fell through the building, into a vacuum of blackness. I took it as a metaphor for the downfall of man.)


Vanquish

Vanquish is the greatest 3rd person shooter currently available. That's right. With my dishevelled hair and sleeveless polyester fitness top, I made the statement that a game released in 2010 still hasn't been equalled. The individual game-play mechanics, though complex, interlace with such clarity and solidarity that they make star-screaming across the ground on your knees at frenetic speeds feel like an extension of your daydreams. At least, that's how I felt for most of the campaign.


The moment of near-outrage: Bogeys teach me what God Hard is all about

If a developer is going to name the highest difficulty in the game God Hard (like God Hand hard?), then it better invoke a feeling of harsh subservience. Metaphorical lashings are what I desire, and this setting delivered, especially during the final battle, which required me to out-gun and outmanoeuvre a set of hovering Russian sharpshooters. But as per my lack of talent, my first few attempts at dismantling this duo were thwarted by my inability (or unwillingness) to retreat and regain health. They pummelled me with Kung Fu for my disobedience.


Tokyo Jungle

This game is brilliant in that it's exactly as I imagine a post-apocalyptic Tokyo to be: humans are extinct, flora and fauna have reclaimed the precious land that was hijacked by architecture, and the Pomeranian runs the streets with an iron paw. Don't let his cute little puppy cap and adorable cotton vest fool you; this little guy can prey upon a pride of lions, a gang of elk, and even a sleuth of bears! For in this Japanese world of survival that entails a code of eat or be eaten, improbability is neutered in the womb.


The moment of near-outrage: Evolution creates dinosaurs for the sole purpose of murdering me

Who could've predicted that this cute yet visceral arcade-style survival simulator would hit me with one of the biggest surprises I've ever experienced in gaming? I had survived famine, I had survived seasons sweltering with toxic pollution, and I had survived greedy alligators and dishonest bears so that I could court and mate with prime females in order to guarantee the passing of my puppy genes. At almost 70 years of surviving by the fleas on my collar, my legacy was abruptly ended by a pack of dinosaurs, a creature that up until that point I had never encountered. I knew it was my own fault. I still cursed Darwin's name.


Double Dragon Neon

Do you like beating up thugs who think kidnapping your fictional girlfriend, Marian, is an entitlement of their poor life choices? I don't know if she's the girlfriend of Billy or Jimmy Lee, the game's bro-op protagonists, but that matters not; with flowers replaced by spin kicks, we must show our affection by rescuing her feminine form, nonetheless, and making an example of a villainous 80's caricature named Skullmageddon. Unless, that is, he makes an example out of us first...


The moment of near-outrage: Skullmageddon makes an example out of my face

Skullmageddon is a bone-cold pouch of petrified faecal matter who thinks he reigns with impunity. He teleports. He shoots rows of skull shaped stench. He cleaves you across the screen with a sword that has spikes fastened onto the blade that were forged from platypus ankle spurs. And just when you think you've figured out a method to react to his move-set, he fires lasers and hate aura out of his eyes and chest. I lasted for maybe three minutes. And you know what? I double-dragon dared him for a rematch (sorry, I could resist but didn't feel like it).


Catherine 

Puzzle-platforming, commitment hesitancy, and a succubus may sound like incompatible ingredients for a tasty gaming recipe, but Catherine is, in my heart, one of the most important games of last generation. It wasn't scared to tell a mature story that every man or woman can eventually sympathise with, and it wasn't scared to employ a difficulty and a system of trial and error that had the possibility of disengaging the more casual players. In fact, partly due to the difficulty, I was absolutely engaged!


The moment of near-outrage: Thomas Mutton impedes my ascent 

First of all, I have no clue as to how I made it to this point in the game. I remember repeatedly slipping to my doom in one of the ice stages and almost donating my copy of Catherine into the trash receptacle behind the liquor store, but then I blacked out. When I came to, I was scrambling vertically for my right to procreate as Thomas Mutton slammed his mallet on the arm of his chair, morphing the blocks I was climbing on into miniature danger zones. Unable to climb fast enough, just as I was reaching the apex, he crumbled the blocks below my bare feet, and I dropped into a hole of eternal celibacy, ghouls, and wailing chainsaw-infants. And you know, I think I was too upset to ever try again.


Shadow of the Colossus HD

You know what they say: The bigger they are, the longer it takes to find their weak spot.  This game did a vicious number on my time when it released for PS2. I had it on loan for five days from a rental store, so during that time, I must've skipped class at least twice to ensure I'd see the journey through to the end before I had to return it. On the final day, I put off a term paper because I was having trouble keeping a firm grip on the furry head of the stone pyjama labyrinth that was the final boss. Naturally, I defeated him with grace, returned the game, and finished my paper. But fast-forward several years later and...


The moment of near-outrage: A single bloody time trial

SotC was never a difficult game in itself, but the post-game time trials added challenge and longevity to a world I was delighted to simply explore on horseback. The colossus who harassed my tiny brain to its threshold: Argus, colossus number fifteen. After I devastated the symbols on his head and back, a symbol on the palm of his hand materialized. Now, there are two ways to get to his hand: serpentine in front of Argus' hooves like an endangered chocobo until he karate chops the ground, or jump on his back and hell-drop down into his palm from his wrist.

Being a time trial, I experimented with both methods to figure out which was faster, but I couldn't get him to chop. Slightly discouraged, I switched the time trial back to normal and - what do you freakin' know - got him to chop on the first try. What did I do next? I chopped the game case in half and tried again.

I'm too stupid to know when to quit.




-Jedediah H.
News Editor
Your near-outrages are safe with me at: jedh@digitallydownloaded.net
Maybe I'll rage-quit tonight... at: twitch.tv/the_major1219 
The Friday 10: Ten last gen games that nearly made me rage-quit on the hardest difficulty
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