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Different Strokes...

For some reason or another gamers, seemingly more so than other groups, have or show a need to further categorize ourselves into sub-groups.  Whether it's flame-wars on Twitter, or good old fashioned 'My System's Better than Yours' blogs, we seem to be a sub-culture that revels in distinguishing ourselves from the larger group.  You can find it everywhere.  JRPGs versus their western counter-parts.  Sports games featuring remarkably similar experiences but created by different developers.  Third-person cover shooters sitting side-by-side FPSs on store shelves.  PC enthusiasts going against their console brethren.  The examples of the sub-sub-categories we've carved out for ourselves are as endless as the differences in our tastes.  Despite all of these differences, many games released are still purchased and played by higher percentages than those 'claiming allegience' to the product.  Many of these successful games offer multiple paths or styles of play which may contribute to their adoption by so many.  The Elder Scrolls series for example could appeal to traditional role-playing enthusiasts, shooter fans looking for something new, stealth game aficionados wanting to hone their skills in a new environment, and many others.  The beauty of offering players multiple ways to pursue a game is that the experience can vary for so many.  (The added re-play value doesn't hurt as well!)

The other night I had a brief conversation with Saint on Twitter about Black Ops 2 which led to this post.  I had read his blog about the midnight release and asked if he had checked out the additions to Zombie mode (which are awesome).  his reply was that he hadn't checked it out yet and was still working through the campaign.  My response was 'Different strokes man'. 

Transit mode is a fantastic addition!

I started thinking and realized that while I've owned all of the current generation CoD titles, the last time I finished a campaign was Modern Warfare 2.  For that matter, the last time I played the series on-line at all was with my 11 year-old nephew (his mom said OK) and that was with the first Black Ops.  I remember bringing Black Ops home two years ago wanting to play zombies only to have to wait 2 days for my roommate to finish the campaign first.  He wouldn't touch another mode until he'd finished the story but all I wanted to do was kill some zombies in split-screen.  Regardless of preference of play, I'd say we both equally like the series.

In planning this blog I asked a few friends some questions regarding games I knew we both had played and the answers were relatively unsurprising.  Regarding Skyrim, I had remembered Ace13 mentioning once that she had completed the main quest, but hadn't ventured into the 'wilderness' much beyond that story-line. 

Upon confirmation, I couldn't help but laugh.  Here's a friend.  One I have quite a bit in common with, but that played Skyrim in nearly the diametric opposite way as me.  I've logged over 200 hours into, well each of the Elder Scrolls games since Daggerfall (yes, I'm old) and while I've got multiple characters over the level of 50 with differing guilds under their control, have yet to accomplish what I set out to do.  Does that mean that either Ace or I aren't enjoying the game to it's fullest?  Hardly, more like the game was designed to let the maximum number of people enjoy it to the fullest each in their own way.

Another game, another blogger.  This time Mojomonkey12 and Borderlands 2.  He and I have tried on multiple times to meet up in co-op mode on this beast of a game, but I'm pretty selfish with my spare time and work odd hours so it never seemed to materialize.  I've played a bit of co-op with Darth-Carbonite and David Chandler, but most of my time with the game has been spent as Zero in single-player mode.

I asked Mojo if his experience had been similar and his response was that, while probably playing co-op a bit more, he had closely split his time with the game between single and multi-player.  I never asked which character he used, but that adds even more dimensions to the differences the game allows.  It's a testimony to the quality of Gearbox's work that so many various ways of play work so fantastically on this game as well as a large contributor to it's success.

When it comes to XCOM: Enemy Unknown, there are many ways players can go about getting a different experience from the game.  You could look at anything from starting position, to base-building strategy, to particular research paths, but I'm interested the most in squad load-outs for today's purpose.  When given the option I almost always take a group of six comprised of one sniper, two assault troops, one heavy, and two supports.  For occasional fun on easier shoot-downs, I'd remove an assault and add another sniper, but it seemed less consistent a group.

Recently through Twitter I've learned that Jolt the Cynic has been enjoying the game as much as myself.  I posed the question to him and his response was everything I could have hoped for.  One sniper, two assault class, one heavy, and two supports! 

Possibly our differences are less than they seem!

It's amusing to me that a blog about differences in play-styles evolved into something more about how, regardless of our differences in taste, we're all gamers at heart.  Getting these different, (and sometimes eerily similar) experiences out of games is a testament to the power of the genre and one we should all be thankful for.

Do you and friends or family play the same games different ways?

What annoys you about the way certain people play? (I hate watching others talk to NPCs for example!)

Thanks to Saint, Ace, Mojo, and Jolt for providing a bit of enlightenment today and...

Thanks for reading everyone!

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