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When is Enough, Enough?

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I've been gaming for as long as I can remember, and while I enjoy a good laugh at the GameFly commercials, I sometimes wonder when is the point when you throw in the towel? I love to finish games. As lame as that sounds, I do feel a sense of accomplishment when I get through an entire game, trophies or not, its still a great feeling. What I've never truly been able to negotiate is when do you have to give up? When is it bad time after good?

Some games are challenging, and rightfully so. I remember one of the first games I played on my brand new PS2 was Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. That game is not a great first game, and I put it down and picked it up again six months later, more for feeling bad I didn't give it due time. I don't know what compelled me, at that time, to pick it up, but needless to say, I adore the MGS series and bought the limited edition PS3 for MGS4 just for it. At that juncture, there was no question, I'd dropped $50 on the game, didn't want to lose the investment, and heard nothing but amazing reviews for the game. I assumed that millions of people couldn't be wrong, there must be a great game hidden under very challenging game play, and I was right.

Dante vs. Virgil

A few years later, I picked up Devil May Cry 3, after loving the original, and found myself at the very last level, with no possible solution to get further. At the time, I did go online, and while there are cheats, I prefer not to go that route. I think there's something to be said for gaming guides being sold and cheat codes being found online, that's my dividing point. I have no trouble consulting a game guide, there's no point in wasting time, but cheat codes are just plain cheating, but I digress.

As I played the end level again, and again, and again, and to the same result, Virigl using his Devil Trigger to heal while I Devil Trigger and get no-where fast, something inside me clicked. It was that split-second, where you realise, either you replay this game from the very beginning, never using health, like I'd when I played Onimusha, or you put the game down knowing you'll never pick it up again. That time investment didn't seem prudent.

I don't think it's even optional to most gamers, you get to that point, the breaking point, where you just can't tolerate overly difficult or seemingly impossible games. I've given up on maybe 6 games, of more than 60 that I've ever played (PS2 and higher systems only). Ten percent isn't a great, but I can't abide wasting time on something I know I won't succeed at.

I wonder if there's a way to track completion rate on games. I understand that how much money you make off the game and ancillary products is key to the company's success, but is that enough? Does that really give the company an understanding of how the game is, overall, doing? Of course not. How many of us have bought bad games and finished them anyway? I've finished more than one game that felt like a slow root canal, but only because it seemed like a waste not to, even though the story, game play or characters were atrocious.

Thanks to trophies, I imagine a gaming company can just as easily go online and use Raptor to see the percentage of how many people have what trophies. Statistics can tell you almost anything, I just hope it tells those gaming companies that make overly difficult games to give the gamer something more. A great story can save a mediocre game, but a game that can't be finished won't ever win anyone over.

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