Thursday, November 27, 2008

Aspiring to Achieve

By Fartknocckker
Sythbane Squadron contributor

Having recently completed Call of Duty: World at War on veteran difficulty and gaining all 1,000 gamerscore points, I had a feeling of deja vu. It wasn't because I felt like I had played the game before, but the sense that I had just completed another game that got the achievements right.

So many times achievements simply do not match the game or require you to search around for hours looking for this do-dad or other. From a designer's point of view, these collection quests are a way of persuading the player to look at the world that they have created a little closer, and is understandable, but is sometimes downright tedious. Achievements that are difficult because they are based on the player's skill are much more rewarding and really give you a sense of accomplishment.

Other games are laughable when they clearly are not triple-A titles but require the player to get a ridiculous number of kills online, or play a certain number of online matches. Sometimes these achievements are nearly impossible to acquire simply for the fact that nobody is playing the game online. Did the developers really think their game was so good that people would play thousands of online matches? Have they played Call of Duty, Gears of War or Halo?

The redeeming quality about achievements is that if you want to unlock them from a particular title, you are forced to play the game differently (except for story progression achievements, of course). This adds a lot more value and replayability, because unless a game has multiplayer, you can drop 60 bucks and finish the main story out in two days. Even if you rent, rushing through a game in order to meet a return date offers no value.

There was a time when accomplishing something in a game was known only to yourself or maybe your little brother. Achievements not only offer a recorded recognition but add another aspect to the gaming community. Discussing strategy or offering tips to your buddies about achievements encourages friendship through something in common.

Now, some people couldn't care less about these little notifications of specific tasks performed in games. Other people will cheat, glitch and have somebody else play under their accounts to have these puppies pop and increase there gamerscore for bragging rights. I personally find the latter to be obsessive and not very healthy. I would be lying if I said no part of earning achievements, for me, was for bragging rights because that is a small percentage. I look at them as enhancements to a game that can build confidence and add value to entertainment.

I recommend at least trying Call of Duty titles on veteran difficulty. Even though, at times, you will want to throw your controller through your T.V. and the wall behind it, it is a very satisfying set of achievements.

Editor's note: The other night I joined a co-op party led by Ogre through the last level of Call of Duty: World at War. During the mayhem, Ogre mentioned that Fartknocckker had completed the game solo on veteran difficulty -- a feat which, he noted with awe, is insane. We all had to agree. Fartknocckker is the Man. He probably gives gaming tips to Chuck Norris.
-- Sythbane

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