The lights are on
Power Member - Level 9
Games have evolved, no dispute about that. New mechanics come along every once in a while and I think to myself "every game should have this feature." That's how I feel about the "new game plus" or "cleared game" setting.
Now, please bear with me as this post will get a bit repetitive with examples and titles but I've got to stick with what I know.
I realize that the first game to really utilize this feature to its fullest was Chrono Trigger. Much to my shame, I've never beaten that game, but I want to take my hat off to it for opening the door.
Now, why is it so important to start a new game with your progress that you've made? Isn't that kind of like cheating? I don't think so. To me, if I beat a game, unless it's replay value is just through the roof, It will likely collect dust or be sold for credit to a new game. However, if I really liked a game and can now start over with all my tools, resources, and experience it will completely change how I approach and play the game. Instead of completely breaking the game and all the challenge that it holds, it enhances it, giving me greater freedom and choice.
In my opinion, starting a new game with all your goodies is kind of a
reward and a challenge rolled into one. It's like the developers have
said "You know what? You shelled out your hard earned money for our
game, you busted your ass and played by the rules, so here you go.
Here's the key to the city. Enjoy it." That's just me, and I'm sure many
developers aren't that nice, but I'd like to imagine that in my head.
The best execution of "NG+" in my recent memory has got to be Dead Space 2. Starting off on normal difficulty, me and my best friend struggled as we had limited ammo for our weapons, some strange and some old favorites, and up-grade opportunities rare. Managing all this was a chore, adding to the challenge and fear of what could be around the corner. Do we upgrade our weapons or our armor? What if we get ganged up on and invent too much in single target abilities? BUT! Once we beat the game and began our next play through it was a completely different scenario. We already had our core weapons upgraded mostly, our armor and special abilities could get some love, resources and cash weren't spread so thin, and we could use our experience to play new scenarios differently. We had more fun than tension now. And to say that the difficulty drained out of the experience would be a lie. Kicking the difficulty up to "Zealot" was still a punishing experience even with all my shiny toys.
Diablo II also did a great job implementing the system. I enjoy nothing more than starting a new game with my powerful
character, still beefed up from all that experience or having the edge
now that I know whats coming and I have to tools to prepare of it. The
best games will give me a "reset". If I have abilities that required
points or trees that required progression to unlock, seeing them all set
back to zero and being able to "respec" to a better or more
experimental build is the ultimate feeling of success for me. I feel
like I was allowed to stumble around and do my own thing, but if I want
to play seriously or more streamlined now that I have the basic concepts
mastered, more power to me.
(left picture):How do I approach this tactically? (right picture): Come at me, bro!
Mass Effect is another good example (as I was pleasantly surprised it had this feature). Starting off brand new, I was missing every other shot and only occasionally had a high enough influence to open up new dialog options via intimidation or charm. The second time around, my specter gear and talent trees were top notch, people either feared or respected me, and I didn't have to start all the way back to nothing to play out the opposite decisions story wise. AND! For beating the game, i was rewarded with extra choices in abilities I could add to my character. Suddenly my Shepard wasn't just a soldier, he had access to biotic powers without sacrificing any offensive or defensive securities. Not only did this lead to more combat options, it got me to expand my interests and made me want to play more biotic and powered focused characters from the start.
When you not only make me want to play your game multiple times but play it multiple times as different roles, you can call your job done as a developers.
Devil May Cry is another great example. The first game was, in my opinion, sleek and stylish. The humor was balanced well with the hack and slash/shoot 'em up game play. Not wanting to separate a man and his weapons of choice, I used my swords and guns except when absolutely needed. However, starting my game over with all my red orb currency and weapons upgraded, i decided that the surplus should be given to the gauntlet weapons. And after I toyed around with new weapons and items, I was treated with more game modes and a new character to play with. And further still, upon clearing the hardest mode I was rewarded with all of my weapons, abilities, and a sort of permanent super powered mode which I could turn on and off as I saw fit. It's a great example that a game can only get better as your strength and mastery grows.
To wrap this up, as the industry grows and emphasis is placed on replayability to justify the costs of games, more and more titles need to begin incorporating this relatively simple and rewarding feature. Nothing is lost by giving a better sense of tactics, strength, and purpose.
Also, engaging a powerful character or a boss that posed a serious threat before and then stomping them into the ground is always a rewarding experience.