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Having recently found myself with an influx of all the free time in the world, I’ve finally gotten around to finishing Bioshock.

Given I bought a new machine specifically to play it, bought the special edition on launch day and then played it until my mouse broke, I’m a little suprised it’s taken me this long to do so. Mostly, I got frustrated with it at one point (About ten minutes before the single most awesome scene in the entire game, as it happens) and never really got back to it. I did now (The secret to getting it running on Windows 7, incidentally, is to run it in DirectX 9 mode) and completed it. Everything I said in my original review still holds water (aha, ah ha ha), with the addition that the denouncement about 2/3 in is wonderful, but the game never really becomes as narrarivly awesome again.

Bioshock is a game that had more wanky articles written about it than any game since Deus Ex, and I’m not going to add to them, it’s very interesting that it’s pretty much the only game I can think of with a philosophical point to make. Ben of Critical Distance has compiled a great list of a lot of the articles on the game (as opposed to reviews of the game).

Instead, I’m going to talk on the subject of “Easy Mode”.

In the playthrough of Bioshock, I completed it on Easy, defined in the options as “I’m new to shooters”. I think I died twice in my playthough, entirely because I failed to notice I needed to use a health pack. I didn’t really run out of ammo or mana at any point either. Basically, I romped though the game without really having to try to hard. It was significantly more fun than my first play though.

The most common reason why I don’t finish games is that I get too frustrated with them. I hit a point where I have no ammo, or low health, and the save point is just before a massive ruck. My last save is several hours ago, and the very concept of going over exactly the same thing over again is enough to drive me to giving up. Playing games on Easy isn’t so frustrating, but it’s not really very satisfying either. I haven’t beaten Bioshock, I’ve just completed it. For this, I’m pretty much happy. My main enjoyment of Bioshock is the universe, the storyline, the history, the relationships, the resolution. The mechanics of repeatedly firing frag grenades at a Big Daddy to get me the last bit of ADAM I require to upgrade to Covered In Bees level 3 isn’t that interesting. The mechanics of setting up a perimeter before I do the thing that starts the invasion interests me more, but I can go play Left 4 Dead 2 to get that. Mostly I start games on Normal, but I think in the future, if I really care more about the world than the game, I might go for Easy.

So, those of you who are also gamers, what level do you tend to go for, given the classic “Easy”, “Medium”, “Hard” selection?

  1. I always play every game on Easy. I am really bad at computer games, but enjoy the scenery / story of many of them. It really irritates me when games I would like to play for the story don’t have a meaningful easy mode – indie platformers are a particular example (as the atmosphere and so forth are often really cool, but I suck so badly at jumping puzzles that I can never get past the first couple of levels).

  2. I am new to this whole gaming thing that is World of Warcraft, but like you if I care about the world and the lore I will play on easy.

    I played DA:O initially on Normal and completed it fine, but on my 2nd playthrough I went Easy so stuff could die faster and I could get to the interesting plot devices. I am playing MaE:2 on Easy, as it’s a different control system I am apparently shit at.

  3. Depends on the game. RPGs with a turn based combat system will go onto medium. I can still enjoy the story and the challenge on those. RPGs with a first-person emphasis, and first-persons go on easy, or “don’t make mamma cry” settings, because I can’t shoot for toffees. Mass Effect was a *big* disappointment for me in that respect. I couldn’t play it.

  4. I always go through my first playthrough on normal. Then depending on how difficult I found it I’ll knock it up a notch for each subsequent go. I don’t think I’ve ever played a game on easy. Wait, I did turn the difficulty slider down a few notches in Oblivion because I failed to understand how broken the level scaling system was at first.

    The modern idea of being able to change the difficulty setting at any point in the game is really weird to me. It feels entirely too much like cheating.

    Having said that I may play Mass Effect 1 on easy a couple of times just because I want the save files for importing into 2, and it’ll be much quicker that way.

  5. I tend to play FPS and RP games on ‘Normal’ as that what I’ve most experience at, however RTS I tend to do on easy, as I’m shocking at them.

    Mass Effect went on easy, and the second play through is on Veteran, because once you know the world, you can experiment with the fighting style. Same with the sequel.

  6. Usually normal, changing to Veteran if it feels too easy. If it’s too hard I usually just give up.

  7. I tend to start on Normal, and change to Easy if I’m getting frustrated – I don’t enjoy having to do fights over and over again to learn what is about to happen. Very occasionally I may find that I’m bored with no challenge and turn a difficulty level *up*, but this is rare.

    I curse games that only let you select difficulty at the start, and not change mid-way.

    I started Bioshock on Easy, because it was my first xbox game and I needed to get used to the controls. When I realised that I hadn’t ever had to use a first aid thingy, I upped it to normal 😉

    Mass Effect (1) is on Normal at present, and I’m considering upping it, once again because I always have so much first aid stuff that I can’t pick up more. But, maybe it’ll get harder anyway, I’m still near the start…

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