Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell. Probably one of the most addictive games I’ve ever played. The idea of enemies lurking around every corner but having the ability to become one with the shadows and bypass or take them out without raising alarms leads to some intense and memorable moments. In the recent additions to the series, holding the sprint button down while simultaneously holding the melee attack button causes the character I am in control of to take out enemies in whatever direction he is running in with one smooth transition from one execution to another. The effect of starting a combination of take-downs is instantaneous with the action of pressing and holding the two buttons in sequence; as long as there are enough enemies in the area to allow for take-down combos. Simple actions such as taking an enemy out from behind cover without being spotted by nearby enemies rewards the player with hit markers which allow for a smooth sequence of pin point accuracy shots to be taken with your sidearm in sequence quickly and efficiently. More complex actions such as taking out enough enemies in sequence as stated above, you are awarded a bonus on your final score based on how many enemies were taken out in sequence, if you raised any alarms by getting spotted by someone in another area and are at later points in the game rewarded upgrades at a discount price. The levels of the game are designed in a way that challenges the player to take more stealthy approaches to reach the objective. At first you can easily run and gun your way through or play “ghost” and take out enemies from cover, slowly making your way through undetected without raising alarms. But as the game progresses, levels require that you use stealth more in order to make it through the level without being caught (which at this point means immediate game over; restarting the level) or dying. Along with this higher need for stealth, the game does become progressively more difficult as the population density of enemies increases, more high-tech weapons become available to the protagonists, building layouts become more elaborate and a plethora of other changes. The player does receive a bit more assistance from the main character’s team that are communicating from an area off the battle ground. Hints are not quite “in your face” but are more frequent and can assist the player in what decision they believe would be best to complete the level.
A game that frustrates me beyond belief is QWOP; an online sports game in which the player must control a track runner’s legs to help him cross the finish line. I interact with the game by using the Q, W, O and P keys on my keyboard. The runner’s thighs are controlled with the Q and W keys whereas the calves are controlled with the O and P keys. It seems as though a 2D flash game involving something as simple as running would be easy with only four keys required but frustrating is an understatement. The controls immediately impact the outcome of your game with no latency. Pressing down on one of the four keys causes the character on screen to bend their leg by the thighs or calves; allowing the character to “run”. The change in the runner’s legs is instantaneous and changes much quicker than what most people can naturally adapt to for making the next move. What frustrates me about the experience is that even though it is extremely difficult to even get past the 2m mark, there is something about the game that makes you want to stay and continue to become frustrated as you attempt over and over to reach the finish line or beat your record. The constant requirement for interaction from the moment you make the first leg movement results in your focus to be snapped back and forth; from frustration for failing AGAIN to trying to focus and beat your score. This loop could go on forever with the player getting more and more frustrated with each attempt, but that addictive quality of “I almost had it” or “I NEED to beat my record” keep you going on the frustration inducing path. The game increases in difficulty the further you go. The reason for this is at some point you may need to react quicker to the character’s leg positions to keep them upright and continue onward. It also becomes more difficult the further you progress because if you go to a new record point (let’s say your record is 55m and you’re now at 79m) and fall… you have to start back at 0; not your previous record. The player is led through this increase by the sheer desire of wanting to beat their high score or even a friends. It’s like going to a casino and playing the slot machine every time you get “close” to winning, but in this case, sitting at your computer longer trying to get a 2D avatar with messed up legs to win a race.