Going Back to a Game

Some games you’ll never beat. Statistically only a small percentage of players see a game through to the end, but there’s a difference between getting pushed to the edge of your abilities and laying (or throwing) the pad down and just never getting into the game in the first place. I went back to Mass Effect last week. It was one of the hardest moments in gaming for me. Not because of the difficulty of the game, but because eight months had elapsed since I’d last sat in the Mako and wondered where to go.

Going back to games is something we’ve all faced. Maybe the first time round you weren’t in the mood, or you had too much on your plate or the game simply repelled you by being tricky and convoluted, but then you started seeing it everywhere, your friends kept staring at you aghast when you said you hadn’t even really played it and finally podcasters started talking about the thing like it was a world changing event in gaming, one which you’d missed out on. Those thoughts trickle to the back of your mind and prick at you when you’re in bed, or walking down the street or cruising Amazon. “You never finished Mass Effect dickhead.” They say. “What’s the matter? Is Little big planet too hard for you?” until eventually. “You’re not afraid of The Darkness are you?” Until you snap and go on a budget spending spree.

This is the best thing about the ordeal. You spend only a fraction of what these games originally cost. I picked up Mass Effect for the British equivalent of $12, The Darkness for $9 and LBP for $18. All of which add up to less than one new game. The slow decline in price of any game on the market is a godsend for folks who pick it up late, something that may go away when it’s digital downloads only. Pleased with your bargains you take them home, slap them in and fire them up again.

…and you’re back where you got stuck before. This is the hardest part and the biggest hurdle you will ever jump in that game. RPG’s are the worst offenders. With a platformer or a shooter, you’re going to get fairly universal controls and hopefully an easy to grasp interface. An RPG takes the five hours you’ve already played it just to get to grips with the complex combat, leveling and item system, so when you come back, you have to re-learn that in minutes or you’ll die quickly and repeatedly. Final Fantasy XII still has me stymied. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to go back to that one because it’s a generation behind. The lumbering behemoth of non-widescreen, standard definition, coupled with a wired pad of all things, is a mighty enemy indeed.

But in the case of Mass Effect I had two avenging angels on my side. Xbox Live and a good friend. Quantum sat patiently and talked me through a difficult vehicle section and the mine that followed simply by listening to my descriptions and going from the memory of his past six runs through. Yes that’s not a typo, this man has spent hundreds of hours in that game, and who better to have at my back? Now I’m halfway through and really beginning to enjoy the story and the world it’s set in. So next time you venture back into an uncharted game that you just can’t seem to break into, I can thoroughly recommend getting a coach. Someone who’s been there and can dissolve your frustrations with knowledge and guidance. Quantum, to me is better than a strategy guide. Thanks mate.