Thursday, May 03, 2012

Our Video-Game Trials

Everyone on my XBL friends list played that masochistic motorcycle-platformer Trials HD way back in August 2009, and they all raved about it. I played the demo and immediately recognised it as the excellent game they said it was, but also as one I would not enjoy. There were some parts of that demo that I played over and over and over and over again. I knew that if I couldn't get through a simple demo, I would most certainly be subjecting myself to hours of anger, frustration, and creative cursing with the full game. So, I didn't download  it, and just enjoyed reading my friends' postings about it on the EZ-Mode forums.

Now, there is Trials Evolution, and once again, everyone but me is playing it. The basics of Trials are still there, but developer RedLynx has taken the puzzles out of the confines of the factory and into the great outdoors. It looks great and (deceptively) enjoyable. Still, it is definitely something I would not be happy to play, and this GiantBomb Quicklook, in which Brad Shoemaker and Ryan Davis subject themselves to the unlockable extreme tracks, vividly illustrates why.

The video is both frustrating and hilarious to watch, and makes me wonder why we gamers subject ourselves to such things. I remember playing Halo and Halo 2 on Legendary difficulty, and taking a week to complete each of them. In particular, the battle against five waves of grunts and dual plasma-rifle-wielding Elites in the first hangar (skip to 2:48 of the video) of the Cairo Station mission, of Halo 2, kicked my ass all over the place, innumerable times. After much rage and graphic, colourful language, I finally got through it, and felt a great deal of relief (and even accomplishment) for having done so.

To this day, though, I still wonder why I did it, because I recall I didn't actually have any fun. I love those two games, and still play them from time to time, but damn are they tough on Legendary. Did I have something to prove? If so, what., exactly, was that? I certainly didn't learn anything from those difficult experiences either, as I went on in later years to play Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 3, and Call of Duty 4 --- including the infamous Mile High Club achievement --- on Veteran through many expletive and anger filled hours. I'm proud of those achievements, but, as with Halo and Halo 2, I still wonder why I put myself through them. Where is the value in raising my blood pressure or taking myself to the point of throwing the controller across the room?

These days I am less likely to subject myself to the kind of insanity you see in the above video. With the exception of any Halo game, which I always play on Heroic, I will play a game either on easy or normal, and I will always shut a game down if I find myself getting angry or frustrated while repeating and re-repeating the same mistakes. I want to enjoy the games that I play, and remember them with fondness instead of resentment or ambivalence. That's why I won't buy Trials Evolution, and will again enjoy just reading about it or watching videos of much better players play it.


  1. To each their own, but I've always been one that likes to push myself. Sure I'm not as skilled as most people, but maybe its the competitor in me that likes to see where I stand by pushing myself past the doing just the minimum. The most important thing about video games is to have fun, and if a stress-free environment works for you, I wish you the best!

  2. I think that for many gamers out there, it's about being "hardcore" so they can proudly display their e-penis for all to see on their Acheivement/Trophy/Leaderboards.
    For other I'll assume it's simply for the sense of accomplishment.
    I mostly play on easy or normal, but I am a lazy, lazy man that never feels the need to accomplish anything. ;)

  3. I'm probably even a bit more wary of games like Trials HD and stuff like the "Mile High" achievement. When playing solo I want escapist fun and a good story. I don't want a cake-walk nor do I want to feel like I'm not needed (COD SP on lower difficulties), just give me a challenge that matches my skill level.

    When playing co-op my mindset changes a bit and I have no problem with a tougher grind. It's a social environment and playing on a higher difficulty is equivalent to going out and getting shit-faced with friends. The struggles, victories and defeats make for richer memories.

    "Remember that time you fingered the fat chick at The Bav?"

    "Yeah I remember. It took me a week to feel clean again. Do you remember the time you blew us all up with a frag grenade and we lost an hours worth of work?"

    p.s. you made a grammatical error in the line "So, I didn't download the it, and just enjoyed reading my friends' postings about it on the EZ-Mode forums." What kind of hack are you?

    1. I am a hack, a lazy, lazy hack.

      You're right about co-op. I too don't mind bumping up the difficulty when I've got a friend or two accompanying me, even if it's that ass-kicking Legendary mode on Halo: Reach. And yes, I do remember that time at the Bav. Nasty.


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