(This is an entry I started last December that needed to be cleaned up before posting.)
I did something over the weekend that I'm pretty proud of.
I've mentioned Timesplitters 2 in this blog before, partly because it's always been one of my favorite games, partly because it's a game that deserved more attention than it got, and partly because I was never able to complete the first level on Normal difficulty. That last one deserves a little explanation.
Even on Easy, this is a tough game. Built before the Halo School of FPS Design took over the gaming world with health bars that refilled if you could get out of direct fire, it has virtually no health packs, very little body armor to pickup, limited ammunition, and one (count them ONE) mid-level checkpoint. This in a level that goes on for probably 30 minutes. I had been able to get through the first level on Easy, but that's because you basically only have to play half the level. I've only ever seen one other game do something like this (an old Tiny Toons SNES game) and it is the only way I'd ever feel the need to play a game on anything other than the Easy setting.
I make no excuses - I like to play games on Easy. If the experiences in the game are the same, why should I make the enemies harder, my bullets do less damage and my health run out faster? That's all most games do when upping the difficulty level and it's not fun to die a lot. But in Timesplitters 2, playing on Easy mode gives you a shorter level and fewer locations to have to clear out. If you want the "whole game", you have to play on at least Normal mode. And I was never able to finish that first level on Normal...until this weekend!
The final part of the game has you on top of a dam trying to shoot down a helicopter gunship (that is shooting back at you, of course) with three mounted turrets, while trying to not get killed by Special Forces soldiers who are chasing you. I actually got to this part many years ago when I used to play it on the Gamecube (this time it was on the PS2). By that point I was so low on health and ammo that success seemed impossible. But maybe age and experience counts for something. It took two tries and I died the first time (sending me all the way back to that mid-level checkpoint!) while trying to use the middle turret, which turned out to be a rocket launcher (too slow). The second time, I ran for the first turret and it was a machine gun. This did damage to the helicopter and the guys trying to kill me on the dam. (Interestingly, the gun turret itself was cover from both the helicopter and the soldiers.) When the gun was empty, I figured that the turret at the far end of the dam might be another machine gun and I was right! I finished off the helicopter and got the objective completed message along with the glowing, blue Time Portal (very reminiscent of the Stargate portal, now that I think of it). Praying I wouldn't get cut down by the remaining Special Forces guys, I ran for it...and made it, getting the long awaited "COMPLETED" message for the level! I think I stared at the screen for five minutes, just letting it all soak in.
I honestly thought that my best gaming days might have passed (50+ year old reflexes aren't the greatest), but I guess there's still some fight left in the old hands.