Whether you play Xbox, PlayStation or indeed Games For Windows Live titles on PC or the Windows phone you will now be intimately acquainted with a system that gives you virtual rewards for doing things in games. Microsoft started it all by adding Achievements to their 360 games and shortly after someone over at Sony realised it was a good idea and ‘borrowed’ it for their own Trophy system. Both of these systems are essentially the same, granting you little pop ups that you get for completing certain objectives, killing x amount of enemies with such and such a weapon, reaching a certain level etc etc. Now at first this seems like a really cool idea, I mean it gives you challenges that extend the life of the game… right?
I’m going to throw this out there, I’ve never been much of an achievement hunter, in fact there are only 2 games I have 100% points on, Fallout 3 and Assassins Creed 2, and that’s because I fucking love those two games. Now I wager that even without the achievements I would have played both of these games for just as long as I did to get the 100% and the combined 2000 and something points it added to my Gamer Score. I’ve played both for hours after I got to this point so that’s just testament to my theory here. Compared to a lot of people I know my Gamer Score is fairly low and my Trophies score is abysmal because most games I get for my 360 and my PS3 is at this point pretty much a BluRay player only until the next interesting exclusive comes along. Neither of these facts bother me in the slightest.
I have no qualms with story based achievements/trophies or ones that are genuinely fun to get, but there are some bloody stupid ones out there that don’t bear thinking about. As an example I shall take Fallout: New Vegas which has an achievement/trophy for healing 10,000 points of damage by eating food. Food restores bugger all health so this would take forever. Furthermore food takes time to heal you when Stimpacks are abundant, instant and heal more damage. Other ones that piss me off are the ‘Secret’ ones that aren’t story based. Seriously whose stupid idea was that? ‘Here’s an idea, we’ll stick this achievement in where they have to do this really complicated thing, but not tell them what the complicated thing is!’ What really worries me is that these guys aren’t getting fired on the spot like they should be but instead being LISTENED to. Actually while I’m thinking about people who should be fired, anyone who proposes an insanely difficult task and awards it 1pt as well as the people behind any that give you a reward that is not a multiple of 5 should be next in line. Seriously I care very little about the number but when it was XXX3 I had to try rather hard to get the 2/7 (forget which) pairing to make the damn thing right.
What I’m rambling towards is that I really don’t understand why people try so hard to increase that number. I’ve seen people buy games they openly admit they don’t like but know the achievements are easy. Forgive me but that is a terribly stupid reason to buy a game. You may have heard about the Avatar game that lets you get 1000pts in minutes, by pressing the same button over and over while standing in one place. The game is terrible but because of this one fact it was sought after in really quite silly numbers. I could see the appeal of increasing my Gamer Score if it was actually a measure of skill, but games like this and other less extreme but similar ones negate the score meaning anything at all.
I can’t even begin to describe how I feel about multiplayer achievements either, but let’s have a go anyway. Now I don’t normally mind swearing but I shall have to engage a language filter on myself here because my true feelings on this are rather un-publishable, even on the internet. This rant is more aimed at Xbox who force you to pay to play online but it is applicable to PS3 as well. Nobody should be forced to play online to 100% a game if that is their wish. Playing multiplayer with random people is generally an unpleasant experience and it is inexcusable to make people engage in this should they want to ‘complete’ the game they have been enjoying thus far. I shall cite Assassins Creed: Brotherhood here. The multiplayer on this game is innovative and actually pretty fun, doesn’t mean that I want to spend hours and hours trying to get in certain situations that cause that little pop sound and give me more numbers for my E-ego.
It saddens me somewhat that a lot of kids will never know gaming without this system. When I was playing games growing up the achievement was finishing the games without cheating. There was one difficulty, finite number of lives and when you ran out you went back to the very beginning and had to start all over again. We’re pampered now with save points, infinite lives and other such ‘continue from here’ methods that cheapen the achievement of actually getting to the end, which when you think about it should be the biggest one there is. Instead actually completing the game takes a back seat to killing a shit-ton of enemies for no reason other than because a little text box says you will get 30pts for doing so. Don’t get me wrong I definitely wouldn’t give up the modern methods completely; I just think everyone should experience the elation that comes from completing a game like ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’ on the Sega Megadrive.