Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Achievements: What's in a Game?

Barring catastrophic hard drive failure or an unforgiveable bug, I am just a few more hours play from getting the full 1000GS from Skyrim. Naturally, I’m pretty chuffed about that-it’s not many games I get the full 1000 from, so discovering that Skyrim is going to give me top whack as well as being very entertaining makes me think of it as a very generous game. Except of course, it isn't. Not even close. A reasonable estimate is that it will have taken me 140 hours of gameplay to get that 1000GS.

When it comes to being generous with points, there are many different types, and like some sort of crazed gaming taxonomist, we thought we'd try to define them.

The Banker
Have you ever had one of those calls from your bank offering you a guaranteed chunk of free money if only you’ll let them tie up a chunk of the cash you already have for the next six to eighteen months? Well that’s the likes of Skyrim and Oblivion. A guaranteed sizeable return on your investment, as long as you’re willing to  put the time in. There are no grinding feather-collections, no viral achievements, no points that are at the mercy of fate. If you want 1000GS, all you have to do is play. Lots.

The Transcendent
Then there are those games that are almost the opposite-they transcend your love of Gamerscore and reassure you that you still play games for the right reason. Just when you’d started to wonder if you were playing only for the points, along comes something like Dark Souls, a game so excruciatingly difficult that even though the array of points on offer are perfectly fair and free from caprice, it’s still hugely unlikely that you’ll ever get them all. Yet you keep on playing. And playing. And playing.

The Harvester
Then there are those games that offer a full 1000GS as long as you’re willing to put a modest amount of work in. The games that you play primarily for score-whoring purposes, but which don’t give up their points quite so easily that you’re ashamed of playing them. You know the ones, Fight Night Round 3, King Kong, games that won’t give up their points until you finish them, but won’t make finishing them at all hard for you.

The Low Hanging Fruit
During the annual Megabits Gamerscore Challenge when I really want my score to fly up, low-hanging fruit is where it’s at. Good games that only dish out a serious wedge if you work at it, but which can be relied upon to dish out a not inconsiderable fillip for minimal investment. During the last Gamerscore Challenge I played through CoDBlOps, CoDWaW and Medal of Honor for a total of 785 points from three games. Doesn’t sound like much, until you consider that each was played as a speedrun, and that 785 came from just a day and a half’s gaming. Tasty.

The Unexpectedly Generous
With these points, you’re really spoiling us. No, really, if there’s one thing that’s better than low hanging fruit, it’s a genuinely generous game. Bioshock and Bioshock 2 are the classic examples-a day’s worth of play for well over 700 points. That’s an even better use of time than speedrunning Call of Duty. Less likely to turn you into a moron as well.

The Easy G
Yeah yeah, we saw you, playing Avatar and Just Cause, harvesting the full 1000 with a few cheap tricks, then playing 30 seconds of a dozen good games in order to shove your shame further down your games played list so your score would be seen but not its source. This is score whoring for 12 year olds, but we’ll admit, it’s effective.