Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Achievements: 5 Worst Games To Boost Your Score

Putting together last week’s list of games that are generous with their points was comparatively easy: just a case of looking for games that dished out a lot of points in very little time and were fun to play. This week, however, things are tougher. Simply comparing points awarded with hours played would mean that the likes of Skyrim, Fallout 3 and Eternal Sonata would fill the list, and it doesn’t seem fair to take to task for their longevity games that we buy specifically for the long term immersion that they offer.

Nor can we justify simply reversing the ‘must be fun’ criteria of our previous list. It would be too easy to simply list five bad games and claim that you’ll regret playing them so much that whatever points they dish out won’t be worth it.

No, what we’ve tried to assemble here is a list of games that you’ll willingly play, but in which the achievements just don’t seem very generous.

1. F.E.A.R 3
The horror series that’s getting less horrific with each outing is also getting less generous with its points, with the latest instalment being a particularly galling example of the misapprehension among developers that forcing you to replay a game is the same thing as making a game with replayability. Each level can be played as one of two characters, but the achievements are tailored to each individual character, rather than to both, making you play each level twice in order to get a decent score. I liked F.E.A.R.3 enough to play it, enough to recommend it, but not enough to run through it a second time when I could be playing something new.

2. Conan
Conan sits atop our oft-mooted list of crap games we love. It’s glitchy, occasionally clumsy and can’t even stay true to its source material. It is, however, great fun. Sadly, that’s not enough to keep it out of this list. We mentioned last week that slash-em-ups are good for scoreboosting as they usually dish out points for killing large numbers of opponents in specific ways, but Conan gets the balance drastically wrong. Take for example the Death Grip achievement for scoring 250 grapple kills. You play through the game for about six hours and don’t get it, so you load up the sea battle with infinitely respawning enemies and commence to grapple kille them all. An hour, a whole hour later, you’ll get the achievement. Now, do you feel like getting the achievement for 500 Grapple kills? 200 Parry kills? 100 Impalements? No, of course you don't. The scores are all there, easily obtained, but far too tedious to chase.

3. The Orange Box
Ah, The Orange Box. Five games in one. Surely a playthrough of all the games on this disc will net you a sizeable haul of points, eh? Alas no. While there are plenty of achievements that you’ll pick up just by playing through, the Orange Box is primarily filled with small rewards for straying off the beaten path and stumbling across irrelevant MacGuffins, or for carrying out preposterously time-consuming tasks such as carrying Valve’s pet Gnome from one end of the game to the other. It’s fortunate that the games on offer are among the best on the market, as you’d never play this one just for the trophies.

4. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Call of Duty games have never dished out points easily, as anyone who slogged agonisingly through Call of Duty 2 on veteran difficulty will tell you. CoD 4 takes the cake, however. While the overarching difficulty of digging all the points out of CoD2 made it feel like a worthwhile achievement in itself, CoD4’s decision to divvy up it's achievements into a selection of laptop hunts, online awards and tightly timed missions makes the task of mining all the gamerscore from the game an achievable but astonishingly tiresome task of practice and repetition.

5. Tour de France 2011
There are a few things to like in this otherwise dull game. The nailbiting tension as you try to balance your speed against your stamina is one, seeing the surprisingly accurate abilities of the riders is another, and they almost compensate for the incredibly long stretches in which you do nothing at all but can’t skip forward. When you look at the achievements list, it’s hard not to wonder if the developers took a little too much inspiration from the hardest race in the hardest sport in the world. Some of these trophies are very tough: Winning all three jerseys in a single Tour, or leading the race from start to finish, have only been done once in real life, by a rider far more talented than of the riders licensed in the game. Worse still, what about the omissions? This is a game that will give you points for using every type of team order, but won’t give you any points for actually winning the Tour de France itself!