The Dull Edge Of Darkness

Happy Weekend TAY!

Back to a normal routine last week for many and “back to our regularly scheduled program” with a return to school for a lot of students on Monday. I hope everyone had a great beginning to the new year and you are ready to relax this weekend.

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I had a great time last week with all the holiday and birthday festivities behind me. This of course meant that there was time for me to get back to my games.

My family started playing Diablo 3 together that I bought on the cheap during the Playstation Store’s last sale. It is nice to be able to play together as a family and I find these types of dungeon crawlers infinitely more pleasurable when played with a controller as opposed to a mouse and keyboard.

The big problem we are having with Diablo 3 is that it is ridiculously easy so far. Even my 10-year-old has commented on the lack of challenge. We are playing on Expert since the two upper difficulties are locked, but I would have preferred to have been able to select a much higher difficulty level from the get-go. (note to devs: NEVER lock difficulty levels)

Notice the cost of the repairs compared to the amount of gold I have.

The problem is with the lack of a sufficient penalty for death. The only penalty the game issues is the loss of durability for items and this isn’t more than a symbolic slap on the wrist. This loss of durability isn’t permanent and can be repaired for a ridiculously low cost. I’m unsure how this is considered a deterrent at all. The other annoying issue is that you can just respawn the moment after death with all your equipment and immediately rejoin the fight.

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Diablo (1) had the best penalty for dying as it would make you return to your corpse to reclaim your equipment after being respawned in town. Also, your equipment would take a PERMANENT reduction in durability. Diablo 2 was also pretty good in making you afraid to die since it would take a fair amount of gold and experience from the player. I don’t know what Blizzard was thinking with Diablo 3, but it is another case of watering down the difficulty for the mass audience.

If it were up to me, I would (at the very least) see dead players respawn in town in Diablo 3. This makes it enough of a pain for players to try to avoid dancing with death. I think going back to your corpse to find your equipment is a great penalty as well. I would love to actually see different penalties applied to the different difficulty levels. The more you increase the difficulty of the game, the more penalties there could be for dying.

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Now, for those who will say “Hey Datacide, if you want it tough, play the hardcore mode”. Yes, there is a hardcore mode that gives the player a single life, but that’s a very cheap (and unfun) way to increase the difficulty of the game. This doesn’t address the core difficulty issues in Diablo 3, it just removes most of the issues because death becomes a game-over. As much as I love hard games, I don’t find the single-life hardcore modes a compelling way to play. It feels like a cop-out instead of taking the time to make a game interestingly difficult.

Aside from Diablo 3, I had my “All-Night-Game-Night” last week with my son which is a post birthday tradition. We basically played Sonic 2 for most of the night and finished that off. If anyone wants a tough game, the last couple zones of Sonic 2 are quite challenging.

We also watched Halo: Nightfall which was surprisingly fun and messed around with a bunch of SNES games. My son didn’t really like many of the SNES games even though I was hoping to thrill him with Uniracers. What he thought was hilarious was Ballz. Not because the game is any good, but because of how terrible it is. He couldn’t believe people paid money for that game. Of course, he also liked joking with the name and the premise. “I’m kicking you in the balls” doesn’t get old when you are ten.

I managed to get a little solo time with The Witcher 2 as well. I’m making good progress in the city of Vergen and I’m enjoying the developing story. I can’t shake a mild feeling of deja vu with the way the game is structured compared with the first game, but the great writing and voice acting are keeping me thoroughly entertained.

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I’m hoping to get to more of The Witcher 2 this weekend and I’m sure there will be more Diablo 3 in store. I have to set some time aside to re-calibrate Rock Band 4 after changing out the AV system in the family room; I’m really looking forward to getting back to singing.

So, what are you playing this weekend?