I’ve recently come to terms with my inability at playing any game with any skill; from now on, I’m playing games on the easy difficulty settings and I don’t care who knows it.
Forget all this macho bullshit about playing games on “Hardcore” or “Ultimate” or “Legendary” levels just so you can wave your Gamerscore under someone else’s face, I’m playing games because I want to relax and have fun, not be kicked in the face by them.
I understand that other people like a challenge, and in some respects I do as well, but more and more often playing a game on anything other than easy is like trying to type on a keyboard while someone randomly moves it around on your desk. Yes, it’s more challenging to type on but it’s not much more fun, and I don’t get any satisfaction if I successfully type a complete and coherent sentence while it’s happening; mostly I just get annoyed at the person who’s doing the moving.
I get easily overwhelmed in games, particularly of the variety involving guns. It doesn’t take much for me to lose my bearings as someone out of sight starts taking shots at me, and within seconds I’m ham-fistedly putting my gun away and hopping on the spot as I try to find the right button amidst the dozens available that will let me turn around or dodge or something. Then I’m dead, an event usually followed by me sitting back on the sofa and exclaiming “what the fuck was that about?”
Lately I’ve been enjoying Half-Life 2 on easy, having drifted away from it many months ago trying to play it on normal and always ending up dead. Playing it on easy is more like a holiday, which is what I want from games. I’m inadequate enough in real life, I don’t need to be mocked in my leisure time as well by a badly-rendered Combine squadron.
Playing games on easy also allows me to give up role-playing the part of a gun-toting action hero and play to my natural, real world role as a total coward. Consider this part of the game where you encounter something called an Antlion Guardian or something for the first time. Watch as this player artfully darts around it, grabbing available objects to use as weapons and generally plays the game as nature intended.
How did I deal with this scene? I’m afraid I don’t have a video, but all of the following things took place:
I put the game on pause while I consulted an online walkthrough to find out if I was meant to be killing this thing or avoiding it.
I fumbled the controls and ended up trying to beat the thing to death with a crowbar.
I pressed down too hard on the left analogue stick which left me crouching, so when I tried to run away I was still squatting down on my calves, resulting in a rather slow, crab-like escape dash.
I spent a few minutes just running around the arena trying to get my bearings.
I managed to pick up one of the exploding barrels only to prematurely detonate it in my own face.
I manically cycled through every available weapon I had, unerringly selecting the weakest one each time.
There’s no option in Half-Life 2 to run away whilst firing blindly behind you but if there was, that’d be my preferred way of getting through the game. But on easy, that’s ok. I actually made it past this bit, amazing both myself and, presumably, the Antlion, by just giving up, standing still and waiting to die while a friendly gun emplacement did the work for me. Another character opened a door and let me in afterwards, telling me that my name was legend and my arrival would do wonders for moral. They obviously hadn’t seen me running around screaming for help and getting my feet stuck in flaming waste paper bins.
The game became almost blissful. Calmly driving along Highway 17 in a buggy, sprinting along the shoreline as I left aliens and soldiers in the dust behind me. Sometimes it doesn’t quite get it right. A level described as one of the longest and hardest in the game — Nova Prospekt — was literally a walkthrough as I had a squad of friendly critters that were happily going forth and clearing a path for me without me even having to direct them. I danced through the level in about 30 minutes, barely firing a shot, and that felt a little unsatisfying, so I’m toying with the idea of going back for a go at a harder level. One day, maybe, when I have become a man.