I went back and played Timesplitters: Future Perfect a few days back. If you haven't played this XBox (not 360 compatible) game, maybe you should: the writing is excellent and the animation is astounding even held against today's games.
But if you play it, play it on "easy". The game is haaaarrrrd. Thumbsticks still don't mix well with FPS games...
Anyway, this got me thinking about difficulty in games. One of my complaints about many games is that they're too easy. Especially RPGs, which are built specifically so that any idiot can reach the ending.
Some RPGs offer "extra challenges", like Final Fantasy's "Ultimate Weapons" - optional super-hard bosses. Some games also offer multiple endings depending on the course you take, which is kinda-sorta related to difficulty. Some games also allow you to choose a difficulty.
Personally, I think all three of those methods are mostly dodging the question. Some, like the multiple ending one, are actively more irritating than simply making the game hard. I don't like having to restart a forty hour game to get "the better ending", and I doubt anyone else does, either. "New Game+" mode can alleviate this irritation, though. Mmmm, New Game+.
When I think about difficulty, I can't help but think of Ye Olde Days, when games were hard and hardware was erratic. Things were paced differently back then. Adventure games featured hours of wandering around places you'd already been, searching for whatever the next key was. GameFaqs didn't exist. That level of patience seems extraordinary today. The idea that I would ever willingly wander around for hours in the same places seems unbelievable.
Similarly, in games like Future Perfect, they're not really hard hard. They're just hard enough that you can't beat them without dying a few times. But I find this to be irritating.
Did I get spoiled? Did I get old? Did culture change?
What's your favorite difficulty level? What kinds of opinions do you have on the subject?