Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gamerscore Challenge: My Best Bits...

The Gamerscore Challenge is over, for me at least, and soon it will be time to get back to writing reviews, lists and features. But before letting it go completely, I thought I'd have a quick reminisce about the best and worst achievements, the most satisfying points and the most generous game in the challenge.

Most satisfying achievement: Fight Night Champion 25GS Just Doing my Jab
The two main contenders for this one both came from the same game, Fight Night Champion, which doled out 100GS for defeating every fighter in the game (A Fist For Every Face) and 25GS for throwing 10,000 jabs (Just Doing My Jab). Both of which are big enough to be a challenge without being so big that they become a grind. After some consideration, Just Doing My Jab gets it. Watching classy boxers working from behind a long jab is one of sport's most poetic pleasures, and replicating it in Fight Night Champion lets you briefly kid yourself that you could be as nimble, creative and skilfully destructive.

Least satisfying achievement: Need For Speed 25GS Festival of Speed
You get this for competing in 10 online races. Or for leaving your Xbox running while you answer the phone and sitting motionless on the start line for ten races. Oh well, its not like it’s a sparklingly inventive achievement anyway.

Most entertaining achievement: Medal of Honour 10G It Takes a Village...Out
I know, I know, the now de rigeur vehicular firepower sections in first person shooters generally combine awesome destructive capabilities on your part with distance and peashooters on theirs, so there’s no real challenge in completing them. But so what? They’re fun, and none more so in the Gamerscore Challenge than It Takes a Village ...Out, in which your helicopter gunner is tasked with destroying 30 buildings in the course of a flyby. As you rain down fire from the heavens it’s hard not to start feeling a little Old Testament about things.

Hardest achievement: Split/Second Velocity 20GS Hero to Zero
Using a Route Changer explosion to go from eighth to first place is harder than it sounds and, frankly, worth more than 20GS if you ask me. Essentially, you need time enough for all your drafting and drifting to fill your power meter, whilst not allowing so much time to pass that the bunch spreads out too much for a Route Changer to affect them all. You’ve also go to hope no one else triggers all the Route Changers before you do. And you’ve got to maintain last place whilst drifting and drafting efficiently enough to fill your power meter, a level of quality driving that normally ensures some overtaking. It’s a whole mess of variables that have to be brought together in one perfect moment, and it took me forever to get it right.

Easiest achievement: Nail’d 80GS Golden Guy
Nail’d will dish out 80GS if you manage to get a Gold Medal in every tournament. Sounds tough, doesn’t it? Except Nail’d is so easy that you won’t even break a sweat getting a gold medal on practically every single event that make up the tournaments. With the exception of one woodland timetrial, I got Gold in every event on the first or (very occasionally) second try, making the 80GS little more than a side effect to finishing the game.

Most grinding achievement: Conan 20GS Death Grip
Clunky and clumsy, Conan is the sort of game only a fan of Robert E Howard’s wandering rogue could enjoy. Fortunately, I am such a fan, and was revelling in my Hyborean hack and slash adventure, until I realised that most of the achievements would require three or four playthroughs or some serious level-grinding. The 20 GS obtained for scoring 250 grapple kills is a case in point. Despite relying heavily on grapple moves throughout the entire game, I was still forced to load up the giant squid boss battle and repeat the same B+B+Y+X combo non-stop for over an hour just to get the achievement. Naturally, I didn’t bother going for any more bodycount achievements after that.

Cheap dirty points award: Harms Way
This was a tough one. Fight Night Round 3 dished out a grand simply for completeing the game, which feels a little like cheating, but in the end I settled on Harms Way instead. It’s great fun, completely free and dishes out all 200 of its points in barely half an hour.

Worst game in the challenge: Bayonetta
Anyone who’s been following the Gamerscore Challenge will know that I was fibally convinced to give Bayonetta a go, and that I found the cut scenes incomprehensible, the dialogue excruciating, the fanservice shameful and the gameplay moronic. That this tripe won so many GOTY’s says almost as worrying things about gamers and the games industry as Rapelay or No Russian.

Best game in the challenge Bioshock 2
This was a close one between Alan Wake’s enjoyable gameplay, gorgeous environments and brilliant evocation of Twin Peaks and Bioshock 2’s enjoyable gameplay, gorgeous environments and brilliant evocation of what an inhuman (not to mention hypocritical) nutbag Ayn Rand was. In the end, Bioshock wins it-the choice of tonics, plasmids, traps and weapons adds just a little more nuance to the gameplay, and from an achievements point of view it’s generous and challenging without being frustrating.