It’s common for games to provide an array of tools by which you can alter your own character or the environment to better suit a particular play style, but without some degree of active encouragement it’s possibly for a lot of these tools will go unused.

While playing System Shock 2 you are required to manage you resources, it’s necessary to be careful to improvise because it’s rare to have the Ammunition, Health Hypos, Cyber Modules or other resources required to blast through every encounter. Because you’re never particularly well supplied, you are forced to think about you actions, to use your abilities and the environment to gain an advantage.

The outwardly similar title Deus Ex: Invisible War also provides options to be inventive and experimental. There are a number of different means provided for changing the environment, however as resources are plentiful and alternate options clearly indicated, there is rarely any tangible benefit to experimenting. It’s possible to use a clever combination of weapons and BioMods to bypass a particular security system, but when there’s nearly always an air vent available to lead you around the area in question, there’s no advantage to be gained from expending your resources.

Given a choice it’s human nature to aim for the path of least resistance. If you are consistently in a state where you are well supplied, there’s a distinct disinclination to attempt alternate strategies, it makes no sense to try a tactic that might work when you already have one that does work.

Halo: Combat Evolved is a title that subtly encourages experimentation. In a standard first person shooter, there might be a dozen different weapons each with alternate fire modes, however most players will stick with one or two different weapons that are reliable in all situations. By restricting the available weapons to two at a time Halo encourages you to experiment; none of the weapons are universally useful, therefore it’s necessary to keep changing and experimenting with different combinations as rely exclusively on a single pairing rapidly becomes ineffective.

Necessity is the mother of invention: if players are never in a situation were need to try different strategies to survive then it’s unlikely they will be inventive for its own sake.

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