Hacked Off: Unlocking Hard Mode

You may be wondering what it is you have stumbled upon. Well to put you out of your misery and confusion I shall explain. This is the first of many, well hopefully, features where I will talk about different aspects in video games that make me turn green and rip off my clothes. Okay, so that might not actually happen but there is definitely some tutting, eye-rolling and even the occasional curse. So if that was a little too cryptic, basically I’m sharing what parts of games annoy me enough to whine and moan about.

The first topic that I have in my crosshairs is the worst unlockable a game can give you. The harder difficulty. That’s it? The big start to this new feature series and unlocking hard difficulties is the best you could come up with? I know this doesn’t strike as being a big problem and rarely pops up as a blip on most people’s radars, but for me I just can’t stand it.

I understand games want to have replay value, but who is finishing a game and saying ‘boy that was oodles of fun, if only I could play it again straight away but just a tad more difficult.’? Since when is having the ability to play the game again but being able to take less damage something to draw the masses? It’s like finishing a book and being offered to read it again while someone shakes the book as you read. It’s harder, may give greater sense of accomplishment but not really the most enthralling.

I would rather they just left it without the harder difficulty. Too many times have my hopes been dashed when seeing a text box appear after the credits, for it to just say I can now ‘enjoy’ hard mode.

This isn’t to say I despise hard modes of games, in fact I love making games a little harder. I wish dying was more of a setback, I’m currently playing a Nuzlocke of Pokemon Black and White 2 as it interested me and I have never played the game before. It’s just when I have finished a campaign I don’t want to be offered to go through the whole thing again to test my skill.

I understand some, well lots, of gamers like to replay the games and test their mettle. Which is fine, but surely it would make sense to have access to hard mode straight away. People go into games with a general understanding of what difficulty they want, why must they prove themselves first? I doubt there are many people who like to play it on normal first, but if hard mode is available straight away they get too eager and go straight in.

I can only think of four games where I played the game again on a harder mode, the first ever was Mirror’s Edge. This was because I was racing against my friend to see who could finish hard mode first and be the best free runner that ever ran. The next two were Batman: Arkham City and Resident Evil 5 as I had nothing else to play. The last in this rather short list is The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD, and that’s because I completed the game on the Wii years ago and the HD remaster offered hero mode from the get go. Well, there’s my list of hard mode games you didn’t ask for.

The worst game I’ve seen with unlockable hard mode is Resident Evil 5. This has two stages of unlocking it. Complete it on hard to gain veteran, you then need to complete it on that difficulty to unlock professional. Why, just why? There were no subtle differences in these playthroughs, just how angry I got with Sheva.

Maybe I’m missing something, perhaps people can’t be bothered to play hard mode if it’s already unlocked, they want to earn the right to play it. I may just be the minority on this issue, but I personally am more inclined to play a game again if it had a sweet new outfit I could dress my character in, not just because the enemies might kill me more often.

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