Thursday, February 23, 2012

Never Gonna Give You Up

Gaming can be a really expensive hobby.  I developed the habit early of trading in old games towards the purchase of newer ones.  Unfortunately my craving for achievements is keeping me from getting my extra dough.
I have a number of games that are unbelievably close to 100% completion.  In Fallout: New Vegas, I am only missing seven achievements out of the 75.  They are all attainable, just really, really time consuming.  I am only missing three achievements on L.A. Noire.  Again, totally reachable goals for all three, but I still don't have the time it takes to get them.  I am only missing six on Portal 2, four on Modern Warfare, and the list goes on. 

When I am sooooooo close to getting 100%, I refuse to trade or sell.  I have had most of these games for so long now, that even if I did cave and trade them in, I wouldn't get anything reasonable for them.  Most of them would go for $5 or less.  I just can't part with the potentially gigantic victory. 

So I guess the moral of my story is that it is wiser to tough it out and get the time consuming achievements when you are playing the game the first time.  I am trying to force myself to dig back in and its much harder than I thought it would be.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I'm Always Watching

I have never had a problem watching my friends play a single player game.  I have spent many a happy hour watching the Hub wander the wasteland of Fallout 3.  In high school I vicariously played Final Fantasy 7 and Socom through my group of friends.  I have now moved on to watching hour upon hour of my children playing Kirby or Mario, and most recently, Skyrim.  For real.

My husband has been teaching the 4-yr-old the basics on Skyrim.  It is so fun to watch them play together and bond over the game.  The kidlet seems to have a natural talent for gaming.  She struggled briefly with controlling both joysticks at once - for movement and camera - but now she's got it down pat.  There's nothing she loves more than wandering around in the forest, searching for the friendly animals and swimming in the streams.  She has had moments of panic and throwing the controller back at dad when there's a vicious bear or group of bandits attacking, but who can blame her?  Having dad there is like a gaming spotter - he's ready to take over in the event that it gets too difficult.

That being said, my watching habits have been strained to the max trying to watch the hub play Skyrim on his own.  Why?  Surprisingly it's not because it makes me nauseous like Oblivion always did... rather it's because we have such radically different play styles that it drives me bananas to watch him play!  He is a hoarder of goods, and even when he desperately needs money he won't sell off his things.  I am the opposite - if I have it and am not immediately using it, I sell it for cold hard cash.  Sometimes to my detriment, but hey, at least I can buy myself a house!  To sit empty.  Because I sold everything..

Are you a watcher, or are you the one that has to be in control?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Quit Being So Picky

The name of the blog is Achievos, so it should be no surprise that this particular entry is exclusively centered around achievements.  I finally finished my second playthrough of Mass Effect expecting some achievement popping.  But thanks to some serious restrictions, that never happened.

I am talking about the Completionist achievement.  The description reads "Complete the majority of the game".  For most people, the word majority refers to anything over 50%.  For the sake of making it more involved, this achievement requests around 90% total completion.  If that was all that was required, then I would be set and that achievo would have dinged hours ago.  To unlock the Completionist achievement, the player must complete the game in a very specific order.

See how its greyed out ?  That's because I haven't unlocked it yet. 
I'm not bitter ..........................................

Having been raised on games like Final Fantasy, I am forever drawn towards completing side quests and secondary missions before proceeding with a main quest.  I want to do all the little things that level up weapons and help my character rank up before I proceed to main bosses.  But the makers of Mass Effect had something else in mind.  Scouring forums and walkthroughs, I discovered that I needed to complete almost half the main game before attempting to wander off and explore the galaxy myself. 

I think crazy specific achievements like that totally defeat the purpose.  If I complete most or even all of the available side quests, main quest, and collection missions, then that should be considered a majority.  In order to get the exact order of missions, I would have to closely follow some kind of strategy guide.  I just find it frustrating and lame.

So if you plan on playing Mass Effect and want all the achievements, now you know what to watch out for.  Or if you are like me and already have 30+ hours into your second playthrough, this might just be a good time to walk away and start up Mass Effect 2.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Back In The Saddle

Achievos has long been a sounding board for about all things Call of Duty both positive and negative.  While I was initially a fan of Modern Warfare 3, I have spent almost no time playing it.  Previous titles pulled upwards of forty hours of my free time every week.  Since its release, MW3 has been on the shelf for almost two months straight. 

This title's absence from my disc tray is in no way a reflection of the game itself.  If nothing else, there have been so many amazing single player games that keeping up with those and jumping in for online matches has been impossible.  Now that some of the games in my que are wrapped up and I have a little more time, I popped in MW3 expecting the worst.

With online games as massive as Call of Duty, there will always be large numbers of people who play obsessively.  If you want any chance of keeping up, its best to play as often as possible right out the gate.  Since I set the game aside in December and hadn't picked it up since, I braced myself when I joined my first lobby of 2012.

Much to my surprise, I did great !  Actually, I did mediocre.  My first two matches had my KDR breaking even but rose to slightly positive for the third match !  In the past, I have obsessed over ranking up weapons, prestiging, and monitoring my KDR and other stats.  When playing this time, I was way more relaxed and not caring about the score or my performance.

To keep myself from falling back into the old patterns of caring too much about wins, loses, and KDR, I will probably not play MW3 more than once a week.  I still have plenty of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 to keep me busy until SSX and ME3 begin ruining my life at the end of the month.  But it is nice to know that I can walk away and still have a little bit of skill when I return.  Its even more reassuring that stressful games can still be fun if you give yourself a chance to relax.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

We Will Rock You

I'm willing to wager that by now you readers have noticed that Debbie and I have a weakness for Xbox Live Arcade Games.  I'm especially weak when they are $5.  The weekly sales get me every time!  Plus my husband has a weirdly awesome eye for games.  He had downloaded the demo for Rock of Ages out of the blue, then it went on sale around Christmas so we picked it up.  This game is such a blast.

It's kind of a puzzle/strategy game, because you have a course that you have to populate with obstacles against your opponent.  But you also have to drive your rock down the opponent's obstacle ridden course as well.  Double win!  I am not nuts about the strategy part, mostly because when I am on an arcade game it's so I can zone out, but the hubster loves it.  He watches me play and he's always like, "Want me to tell you what you need to do?  Hey, you need the wind machines.  Hey, use a cow."  It doesn't get annoying at all. (Love you, babe.  Thanks for finding this game.)  I actually appreciate his help from time to time because then I can continue to mindlessly play.  Also I dominate the boss battles way more than he does.  HA!

The game also has single player mini-games, including a take on Skee Ball.  Anything with Skee Ball is a win for me.  And there are multiplayer options, although I have not yet delved into those.  I tried to join a random game and play vs. someone online, but I think the server errored.  Or there wasn't anyone else on at the time.  In other words, readers, buy this game and play with me.

If the fun gameplay isn't enough for you, then the quirky story line should be.  The whole premise is that you go up against characters from history in a very tongue-in-cheek manner.  They are hilariously depicted, from Leonardo da Vinci to Marie Antoinette to The Plague.  And at the end of every level, when you win, you get to run your opponent over with your boulder - eliciting a nice squishy sound and a girlie scream.

At the time of writing, this game is 800 MS points to buy.  I'd definitely suggest the demo at least, you can get a lot of fun play out of that and a great feeling for what the game has in store.  And when it's on sale for 400, just pick it up.  It's a great one to have in your back pocket for some laughs at the very least.  It's not every day you get to run over Bacchus with a smiling boulder.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Instant Replay

With the release of Mass Effect 3 less than a month away *squeal* I decided it was time to replay Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 to refresh myself on the story.  Upon popping in the disk, I soon realized that my save files had disappeared.  What was going to be a quick run through of the game as a refresher has turned into a race against the clock to re-establish my character.

I will say again that I was going to replay both of these titles anyways.  But I thought I might just do a quick "beginning to end" to pick up some bits of the story.  After all, it has been almost five years since the first Mass Effect was released.  But with my save files gone, I have rededicated myself to unearthing this amazing story.  The further I go, the more I can't believe how much I missed the first time around !

I never would have imagined that I missed so much the first time.  I scanned but rarely fully explored extra planets.  I completed all the side quests I stumbled across but never made an effort to talk to every single person in every room at the chance of picking up another mission.  It's like the polar opposite of what my normal play style is.  

Now I am discovering all these extra worlds and amazing missions to boost my XP.  I'm leveling up like mad and cranking up my paragon points.  Before I relied heavily on the auto-leveling.  This time I am taking the time to form and execute a strategy about what type of fighter my Commander Shepard will be.  I'm taking the time to compare weapons and armor as well as carefully choose my upgrades.  I'm even *gasp* better at driving the Mako.  Let's not get crazy here; I'm still far from adept but that's a vast improvement from my previous complete inability.  I even like the way my new Shepard looks.

So as much as it pains me to say this, I think that losing my save files was probably the best thing that could have happened.  I have a brand new character with much better skills and weapons.  I'm taking my Shepard on a rampage through every corner of space and I like it.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Lighten Up

Achievos recently encountered a reader who was very upset at a phrase we used in one of our articles.  The wording was something along the lines of being “addicted” to achievements.  The reader felt that we were being insensitive to individuals who have dealt with real addiction.  This person’s comments spawned a lengthy and ongoing conversation about the potentially offensive nature of video games.

I stand firmly by Linz that her use of the word “addicted” was not in the slightest insensitive.  “Addicted” is a common, everyday term that is used to express someone’s extreme love for something.  This situation is similar to hearing someone say “When is lunch, I’m starving!” and thinking that they were being insensitive to all the people in the world with hunger and starvation problems.

Overall, this blog is not a response to one individual’s comments.  We strongly believe that every reader has a right to their opinion and we love when our writing stirs up conversation and debate.  This blog is written to explore those conversations that followed.  I talked to parents and non-parents, religious and non-religious individuals, co-workers, relatives, and more to discover that sensitive people (no matter the age) just shouldn’t play adult games.

Video games are one of the most outrageous, offensive mediums in the world today.  All of the Call of Duty games or any other military-type shooter would be considered being insensitive to the thousands of men and women that have served or currently serve in the military.  Soldiers kill and are killed in those games.  There is a great potential for that to touch some very fresh wounds given the fighting currently seen around the world.

Looking at games like Grand Theft Auto, there is prostitution, drug use, car theft, cop killing and hitting pedestrians.  In the game L.A Noire, players act as a detective, their investigations include examining dead, (often) nude bodies.  One case is based on an actual murder using the victim’s real name and circumstances.

My point is that if you are easily offended, video games probably aren’t for you.  Religion, politics, armed forces, drugs, even children are targets of racy and edgy game play.  If you plan on playing games with the big kids, it’s important to wear your big kid tough skins and lighten up.