Thursday, September 15, 2011

Achievement Chaser: The 10 Toughest

Article by Ibwib

As you can tell from our annual
Gamerscore Challenge, we at Megabits spend a lot of our time thinking about achievements. At the start of this console generation the double chime of an unlocking achievement was an unnecessary distraction, but now we can’t imagine gaming without these little meta-challenges adding a little extra polish to a good game (not to mention providing the only mitigation for some of the turkeys we’ve thumbed-twiddled our way through).

We’ve come across achievements that were addictive, amusing and aggravating, ones that made us master new game skills and some that required a little lateral thinking. Having just engaged in a little ‘achievement expediency’ to polish off Portal 2 (why co-ordinate all your Portal playing mates, when you can just create extra Portal playing profiles with one friend?) we got to thinking about the toughest achievements we’ve come across. We say toughest rather than hardest, because some of these demand more dedication than skill, but all of them mark their recipients out as serious gamers. Just Cause glitchers need not apply!

We’ve excluded from this list achievements that simply ask you to play a lengthy game twice like Mass Effect’s Long Service Medal , or ones that require you to endlessly polish your performance on the same task such Guitar Hero’s gold star challenges. For us, Achievements and Trophies should be part of the game’s natural flow. Most of these are cross-platform, but we have a rule around these parts that says life is too short to chase points on both platforms, so we’ll be using Xbox terminology: Gamerscore and Achievements, not Bronze, Silver and Platinum. Some we’ve got, some we’re getting, some we’ve given up on. How about you?

Little Rocket Man / Half Life 2 30GS
It wouldn’t be a Valve game without some Gnome related shenanigans. At first glance, Little Rocket Man doesn’t look too difficult. Pick up the Gnome at the start of the game and carry it through the next six hours of shooty physics action, before depositing it in a rocket and broadening its horizons with a one-way trip to a dimension full of malformed alien fascists. Hey, we said it didn’t look difficult, we didn’t say you’d feel good about it. Problem is, what you think will simply involve a small amount of extra faff as you put him down and pick him up as required turns out to be much tougher than you’d reckon. You’ll be killed as you switch from Gnome carrier to machine gun. You’ll lose him as large enemy forces push you away from where you’d left him. Worst of all, when you’re being chased along deserted highways he will bounce out of your car, repeatedly, gleefully and occasionally unnoticedly. This Gnome doesn’t want to go to heaven.

Daredevil / Grand Theft Auto IV 30GS

Ok, so I’ve escapd the police on a stolen superbike, raced through the sand and trucks of a building site, rocketed off the end of a half finished flyover, landed forty yards away on top of an unadorned support pylon and skidded gloriously off the top, plunging fifty feet into the chilly harbour waters below, and you’re telling me it doesn’t qualify as a stunt jump? Not only is GTA IV’s Daredevil achievement decidedly picky about what constitures a completed jump, but it also expects you to complete no fewer than a hundred of them. Worse still, they’re hidden all over the city in some pretty obscure places-without a map or a methodical approach to internet research it will take months just to find them, let alone complete them. It’s enough to make you wish you’d stayed in Serbia.

Seriously 2.0../Gears of War, Gears 2, Left 4 Dead 2 50/50/20G
Like we said, the toughest achievements aren’t necessarily the hardest. Gears 1 and 2 ask you to score 10,000 online and 100,000 single players kills respectively for their ‘Seriously’ achievements, while Dead Rising wants you to kill 53,594 zombies to get the Zombie Genocide score. We’ve lumped them together because they feel so similar-there are no special skills to learn or tricks to master. They simply take the core subject of the game, killing baddies, and push it to insane levels. Even if you’re boosting by reloading the same kill crazy section of Gears 2, it wills till take you upwards of 15 continuous hours of replaying the same two minutes of game to pick up Seriously 2.0, and it's even harder to achieve it ‘naturally’. If that sounds crackers, just bear in mind that Seriously 2.0 is the least grinding of these three achievements. Phew.

Mile High Club / Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 20GS
Call of Duty games frequently dish out big points for completing them on the veteran difficulty level, wherein an opponent can kill you with little more than a dirty look. Playing on veteran demands that you hug the walls and corners, use lots of smoke grenades, and move slowly and methodically forward in a low crawl, disposing of your opponents one by one, pausing frequently to recover your strength. Got that? Right, you’ve got 90 seconds to fight your way up the length of Air Force One, kill three dozen terrorists and sky dive out of the fuselage with the President. Yeep. Mile High Club is an achievement designed to make your aims incompatible with your methods, and it’s insanely difficult because of it. Strangely, it’s not that rare an achievement simply because of its brevity: less than two minutes to succeed, and even shorter if you die. People can get this simply by trying over and over and over again for an hour or two, but in that hour you’ll die hundreds of times. The death/success ratio of this one makes it one of the toughest we’ve come across.

XXL / Fight Night Round 4 75GS
You know you’re looking at a tough achievement when there’s an online petition begging the developers to patch it to become viral. XXL is one of three Fight Night Round 4 achievements that require you to beat the current online World Champion. That’s right, the one and only World Champion. There are over 20 million Xbox Live accounts, about half of which are used for gaming. Of those 10 million people, you’ve got to be ranked high enough to get a fight with one guy. But first you’ve got to find him or her. It’s such a rare achievement we couldn’t find a video for it, so here’s a video of someone using a fighter who ended his career as a heavyweight to defeat a fighter who started his career as a Light Flyweight. And getting points for it.

The Dollcatcher / Fable II 10GS
There are six dolls to be collected. You can buy one, and win another at the shooting gallery, but the rest don’t exist in your game, they exist in other people’s. Yep, in order to get the measly ten GS for this one, you have to open your game world up to the floating orbs and plaintive voices of all the other Fable II players on XBL, then find the ones that have the dolls you need and trade with them. In an otherwise enjoyable and light hearted game, there’s something a little skeevy about approaching children in the town square and offering them your dolly.

Orb Hunter / Crackdown 50GS
Of course, you could just use a map from the internet to get this, but internet research is work for lazy journalists, not play for motivated gamers. If you’re going to achieve this ‘naturally’ then you can expect to spend many, many hours leaping and climbing all over Pacific City’s skyscrapers. There are 300 orbs to find, and as each one boosts your climbing and jumping abilities you’ll initially find that collecting each one increases your ability to collect the next. Eventually, however, you’ll reach the tipping point, where the formerly abundant green glowballs are rarer than new Crackdown melee animations, no matter how adept you are at scaling and scanning the cityscape. By the time you’re down to the last 30 or so it will become the task you do at odd moments over several months, popping the disc in to have a quick orb hunt inbetween playing other games. If you get this one, you’ve displayed astonishing perseverance.

War Hardened etc / Call of Duty II 200/1000GS
You know how we mentioned earlier that Call of Duty games always dish out some nice bonuses for playing them at their most challenging setting? Well the best of the Call of Duty series takes that to it’s logical extension-there are only 13 achievements in the entire game, and they’re all for chapter completion. If you want big points you can go for the 200 on offer for finishing the game on Hardened or Veteran, but the pathological need of points obsessives will be unable to look at the word OR in that sentence and not conclude that if they’re going to play on hardened for 200, they might as well play on veteran for a full 1000. So begins an agonising quest for smoke grenades and cover, as you inch your way through the game dying with wearying regularity. Room clearances that would take a breezy 30 seconds on normal difficulty will stop you dead in your tracks for days at a time, killing your sanity while a voice clamours in the back of your head: “Nothing special, no fetch quests, all I’ve got to do is finish the game. Finish the game. finish tHe g@me. Funosh the gom. Finsh the gm?"

Mr Perfect / Mega Man 10 30GS
For a long, long time we couldn’t find anyone who had this preposterously difficult achievement. You have to clear the entire game without taking any damage at all, something which pushes the lightning reflexes and honed pattern recognition skills required by most arcade titles to their absolute maximum. Players have finally started mastering each level piece-by-piece and posting videos that can be used to study the enemies and attacks, and in doing so they’ve at least taken some of the memory and pattern recognition difficulty out of the quest. You’ll still need to maintain a several hour run of good luck and speedy thumbs though.