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GoatLord

Are superhuman enemies in shooters fair?

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I don't have much in the way of examples, but this came to mind: I was playing the original Bioshock a couple of years ago, and perhaps it was a mistake to insist on playing on the highest level of difficulty. This made progress grueling, but satisfying. Just as I finally starting to really kick ass, I ran into the first mini-boss (I'm assuming), which was a deranged doctor you fight in a murky lab. Pretty cool. Except for that whole damn-near-invincibility thing. I shot the motherfucker multiple times in the face with a magnum and not only did this barely stun him, but he just kept coming at me. I think during one or two sessions I managed to waste him, but had so little health leftover that I was compelled to try again. Eventually I gave up because I felt like the match was too uneven.

Now, I understand that, given his status as a mini-boss, he ought to be more difficult to kill than normal enemies. But is that really the way to approach it? I feel like maybe his A.I. could have been more responsive or maybe he could have been given a stronger weapon. I don't know. But there's something that takes me out of the game when I unload enough bullets on a single human to wipe out a small village, and he barely flinches. There's got to be a more efficient way to do this sort of thing.

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Dr.Steinman you mean. Yea the hardest difficulty in the BioShock series is pretty intense. When you say you shot him with the magnum, do you mean the revolver? the weakest weapon in the game? I wouldn't be surprised that it didn't do much damage unless you used the antipersonnel type bullets which are kinda rare as a whole. I played the original BioShock a while a go(an avid BioShock fan here) and I don't remember Dr.Steinman giving me too much hard time when I beat him even on Survivor mode.

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Well shit, maybe that's the problem! I think I still have the game installed on here, I ought to play it again.

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I don't want to turn your topic into a walkthrough guide but I would like to point out that you can acquire a much stronger firepower in terms of both weapons and plasmids before you tackle him. It's just a matter of exploration.

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As I recall, there's a Medical Station inside a waterlogged section of his operating room. He'll run to that to restore his health, which means any ammo you used on him will be for nothing. Do whatever you can to keep him from healing; electrify the water if he's standing in it, throw gas canisters at him with Telekinesis, or hack the Medical Station to poison him if he uses it.

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Remember, they may have superhuman abilities, but they also have subhuman strategic thinking and anticipation. Use a hacked Sentry to draw his fire and unload on him to give yourself a starting advantage.

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GoatLord said:

But there's something that takes me out of the game when I unload enough bullets on a single human to wipe out a small village, and he barely flinches.


He's probably thinking the same thing about you. Pretty much every protagonist in shooters is orders of magnitude stronger than any of the enemies.

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Well, I always try to just invent my own reason for why something implausible happens in-game. Kind of like how I don't think much about why the protagonists in all those FPS games can carry around all those weapons and still run around without trouble. I imagine they have some weapon teleportation device that isn't being spoken of. :3

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AirRaid said:

He's probably thinking the same thing about you. Pretty much every protagonist in shooters is orders of magnitude stronger than any of the enemies.


That's a really good point.

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Personally, I have no problem with superhuman enemies in shooters, but only if it makes sense. Like, I don't have a problem fighting a giant armored mech that absorbs boatloads of damage, but it does feel cheap if you're just up against another human who suddenly, because he's a boss, can soak up bullets like a sponge even though he looks just like every other human you've slaughtered on the path to get to him. Wolfenstein: The New Order handled it perfectly, in my opinion. It was always clear WHY some enemies were harder to kill than others, and it was always clear what strategy you should use to take them down.

That's always been one of my only gripes about the Bioshock series. I don't mind something like a Big Daddy kicking my ass, but I remember that fight with the doctor, and it was total bullshit because there really wasn't any indication that he'd be harder to kill than regular enemies, and it wasn't immediately clear how to defeat him. I mean yeah, I guess part of it is watching what he does, for instance, noting that he keeps using the medical station, but I just think that whole battle could've been better-designed so as to make it more clear you can't simply just gun him down.

Again, going back to Wolfenstein: The New Order, the final boss was very well-designed, in my opinion. He telegraphed his weakness because every so often he'd stop to recharge with the lightning rods, so it became clear that you had to disable them. However, the barrage of lasers and such didn't make the task any easier, so it was still a satisfying fight, it was just a way to give the player a chance to figure out what to do. That's good game design, in my opinion - make a conflict challenging, while giving the player a chance to learn the rules of the conflict so they can figure out what to do. I guess some people might call that hand-holding, but it's different from, say, having a character just pop up and tell you what you need to do, you still have to figure it out on your own, but in a way, the game still teaches you.

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thing is, though, if you make a human boss not have a lot of HP or some sort of advantage/power over you, it ends up like the end of Fallout 3, were you OHKO the Colonel with one shot to the head. hell, his power armored followers can take more hits than he himself can. it's a video-game, so i feel that suspension of disbelief can be kind of bent over for the sake of making a challenging and enjoyable boss-fight. i mean chances are, in most FPS games you play as a human anyway, and your body-count ends up being, what, in the thousands at the end of it all?

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I think my problem with Bioshock is that I'm so used to run-and-gun that it didn't occur to me that I could use other strategies to defeat the doctor.

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Wovenloaf said:

Well, I always try to just invent my own reason for why something implausible happens in-game. Kind of like how I don't think much about why the protagonists in all those FPS games can carry around all those weapons and still run around without trouble. I imagine they have some weapon teleportation device that isn't being spoken of. :3


They just have a lot of straps.

http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/starwars/images/2/26/Kyle_with_guns.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20060425105341

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*hits cider*
Well, duh, of course. The player has the greatest power of all, known as Save/Load (or checkpoints, or just replaying the whole fucking thing from scratch like nothing happened). Even the power of tossing planets around is fuck-all in comparison to the power to constantly jump back in time until things go your way.

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I guess because AI isn't that advanced at this point in time, enhancement for health and damage for enemies are necessary to make up for their lack of actual cognition. Thus, it has to be unfair towards the player on a higher difficulty.

EDIT:
Though a while ago, someone pointed out how chess games work. So I really don't know for certain.

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The worst I can think of is Ulysses from Fallout New Vegas, that mother fucker does not die easy.

Should you chose to fight him, he will take entire nukes to the face, walk off being incinerated, eat .50 cal rounds, laugh at lasers just bouncing off him...

That seems super human to me.

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What do you consider unfair in games? I think it's related to wrong ways of testing player's skill. Misinforming the player about the enemy's weaknesses might and might not count as one. IMO, overpowered enemies are not necessarily unfair, and a wrong depiction of realism is not necessarily related to fairness at all. It may feel wrong, but gameplay-wise be OK. The more OK if you're familiar with game-y tropes, like that bosses are expected to be tough.

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Unfair is when a game is just loaded with bullshit tedious "challenge" due to shitty design, coding and/or testing.

Yes, I'm talking about stuff like the first Ninja Gaiden on NES. It's a game which is generally difficult for all the wrong reasons, and this difficulty is the only reason why anyone really remembers it. Compare this to a game (also starring a master ninja!) such as The Revenge of Shinobi, which is still a difficult game but not because of constantly dumb shit such as eternally spawning birds and oft-atrocious level design masquerading as a challenge.

Well, except for that one jump.

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The only problem I really have is, like, extreme bullet sponges where I can't even tell if I'm doing damage to or even hitting them or not

*glares at wolfenstein tno*

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geekmarine said:

it does feel cheap if you're just up against another human who suddenly, because he's a boss, can soak up bullets like a sponge even though he looks just like every other human


Eddie from Silent Hill 2 on Hard was bullshit.

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BaronOfStuff said:

Unfair is when a game is just loaded with bullshit tedious "challenge" due to shitty design, coding and/or testing.

Yes, I'm talking about stuff like the first Ninja Gaiden on NES. It's a game which is generally difficult for all the wrong reasons, and this difficulty is the only reason why anyone really remembers it. Compare this to a game (also starring a master ninja!) such as The Revenge of Shinobi, which is still a difficult game but not because of constantly dumb shit such as eternally spawning birds and oft-atrocious level design masquerading as a challenge.

Well, except for that one jump.


I don't like Ninja Gaiden that much, but I think a lot of the NES games were extremely difficult because it was hard to give the games replay value otherwise. The cartridge sizes were extremely limited, and if you were really good you could blaze through those games in a couple of hours. Or in games like the Mario Bros. series you have warp zones with which you can complete the game in under a half hour.

Unfortunately this difficulty means a lot of games haven't aged well. I was a lot more willing to put up with Ninja Gaiden-type bullshit when the only other choices were Mario Bros. which I've beaten a thousand times and utter garbage like the NES Ghostbusters game.

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Clonehunter said:

They just have a lot of straps.


But what about, say, Prisoner 849 from Unreal? How the hell does he/she carry around a dispersion pistol, automag, stinger, ASMD, eightball gun, flak cannon, razorjack, GES bio rifle, sniper rifle, and minigun, and at no cost to speed or stamina? Just a lot of straps? That's just too crazy. And I imagine that the straps would get tangled and stuck a lot, and maybe even come off together when you're trying to get a weapon while some pissed off Skaarj is charging you.

Not that any of it matters. :3

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Tosi said:

I don't like Ninja Gaiden that much, but I think a lot of the NES games were extremely difficult because it was hard to give the games replay value otherwise. The cartridge sizes were extremely limited, and if you were really good you could blaze through those games in a couple of hours. Or in games like the Mario Bros. series you have warp zones with which you can complete the game in under a half hour.

Unfortunately this difficulty means a lot of games haven't aged well. I was a lot more willing to put up with Ninja Gaiden-type bullshit when the only other choices were Mario Bros. which I've beaten a thousand times and utter garbage like the NES Ghostbusters game.

As far as the NES goes, the Mega Man series (for the most part) almost certainly gets the balance of challenge & fairness right (and has replayability as a bonus factor because there was no strict order to beat levels in). Tough games, but without relying on the same stupid gimmick as NG to get this across.

To go off-topic somewhat, MM's challenge is generally based around its level design with specific placement of enemies/obstacles. NG feels utterly haphazard and lazy in comparison, as though someone made a level, then someone else just chucked a load of random spawnpoints for enemies in without even knowing how these enemies behaved in-game (which is probably why you get guys just running off cliffs before you can even get close enough to take a hit from them).

Castlevania, as another example, sits somewhere between the two, erring slightly more on the "fair" side of things rather than the "bullshit" category. It's based around level design and has very deliberate enemy choices for each area, but a lot of the enemy placement itself can be somewhat wonky and/or cheap.

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