Thursday, May 31, 2012

Gamer Fuel?

Seriously people... I am addicted to the Lego games.  I have recently been knocking out some achievos on Lego Pirates of the Caribbean.  I got this game a while back and played a little, just enough, in fact, to make my gamerscore odd.  There is an achievement for 12 points - "Welcome to the Caribbean" - that you get right off the bat, and having that odd number on my GS was driving me bananas.  But the achievement to balance it out - "Pieces of Eight" - required me to have 888,888,888 studs total.  Talk about a time sink.  But I am proud to say I did it and my score is nice and even again.  :-)
So why did I tell you that story, other than to illustrate my O.C.D. tendencies when it comes to gaming?  Because the thing that got me back into Pirates was popping that achievement.  It is fun, but it wasn't on the top of my list to play at the time, and yet it got a good week of my game time.  And it isn't the only one.  Bejeweled 2 has twelve achievements - I have popped one and spent countless hours on the others to no avail.  But I keep returning, keep trying, keep avoiding other awesome games (Mass Effect 2 I swear I will return to you) just to try and get a stupid 5 or 10 pt achievement!!  Also, in my defense, Bejeweled is pretty fun.

And this achievement need culminated in a conversation on the Achievement/Trophy Hunters group this morning.  Someone told someone else to avoid a game because it didn't have trophies associated with it.  That game?  Oblivion.  I feel like that was gaming sacrilege.   That game is amazing and deserves your time whether you're getting achievements or trophies or free kittens or any other arbitrary rewards system.

Ok, this would be pretty tempting.
All this said: What games have you played only to pop achievements?  What games have you avoided because of the lack of achievements?  I didn't re-play the first Fable when we got our 360 because there weren't achievements.  Instead I moved right on to Fable II.  I have considered XBLA games that I have decided not to buy simply based on their achievement list.

Hi, my name is Linz, and I have an achievement problem.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Skeptic Debbie is Skeptical

I have been playing in the world of Elder Scrolls for the last two games, those being Oblivion and Skyrim.  With the slaying of enemies, looting chests, and extensive customization, these games speak directly to my soul.  As much as I love and breathe this series, I can't bring myself to embrace the idea of an Elder Scrolls MMO.  

I recently had my first taste of the MMO world and I wasn't a huge fan.  Having read up on the articles and releases surrounding the Elder Scrolls MMO, I don't see where it will be much different from other games in the genre.  In fact, it is somewhat shocking how closely the game will be following the same generic, formula of other titles.  Whenever a new game is released, it promises to be the WoW killer, and they never come close.  I expect an Elder Scrolls version to follow suit.

One thing I don't understand is why there is a need for an Elder Scrolls MMO at all.  These massive online games provide hours and hours of game play, but so do the regular games.  In Skyrim, I have 150 hours on one character, and there is obviously re-playability with different races and skills that I could easily dump another 150 hours into.  Plus, with future DLC and all of the user generated mods, the current title seems almost endless.  I don't need another monstrous game in the exact same world.  A world that won't even have dragons.

Yes, there is definitely a sizable wait in between titles, but that is what makes coming back to the series so great.  You never miss Call of Duty or Halo because you almost can't keep up with those franchises.  I want Bethesda to know that it's okay to be a tease and make me wait it out.  I also have a hard time understanding the general appeal.  Maybe people want a multiplayer experience.  Maybe hundreds and hundreds of hours aren't enough.  I just have this feeling that someone said "An Elder Scrolls MMO, that would kick ass", but the thought process stopped there.

I have faith in Bethesda and their abilities; they have yet to do me wrong.  I just hope they follow that old adage about fixing things that aren't broken.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Double Dragon, I can’t quit you…

I have played a million and a half games in my lifetime.  One game that will always be in my head is an arcade classic by the name of Double Dragon.  It was the first arcade that I have ever finished and still one of my favorite things to play to this day. 

The year was 1988, I was a rambunctious seven year old, full of energy and hope like every other kid at that age.  I had a Nintendo, which I played every single day, rain or shine.  That year I had broken my arm climbing a fence, and I remember cutting a hole in my cast so that my thumb can mash down the controls on that super small controller.  That’s pretty hardcore if I do say so myself, but that’s a horse of another story altogether.

There was a grocery store right on the corner in my neighborhood.  It’s been there since the 70s and was owned by a Puerto Rican family who befriended my family because that’s what neighbors used to do back in the day.  I miss that.  In the 80s and 90s it seemed like every grocery store, every fast food joint you would walk into had a room just for arcades; it attracted kids and brought more business.  Luis, the shop owner was late to the party on this, but once he realized it, had at least 2-3 machines in the store at all times, switching them out every few months, depending on popularity.  The first two arcades that were featured filled this tiny store with kids and teenagers alike.  The first game was a fighting game called Yie Ar Kung-Fu.  It was a first of its kind, just pitting one on one fighting with semi-special moves. It was no street fighter, but it definitely laid the groundwork for future fighting games.  

The second game caused a line from the machine to the middle of the bread aisle.  This game had two lines, one for each player.  This arcade was Double Dragon.  If ever there was an aura from an inanimate object, this was that moment.  Quarter after quarter, from start to completion, the game never saw an empty line.  Kids and teenagers alike would discuss their methods, tips and even offer to give the person in front of them an extra quarter to let take their place in line.  That’s how I met my drummer actually.

Finally, it was my turn in line to play and I was floored.  This was the first time I have ever played a game with another person that used teamwork to take out the bad guys.  I punched, kicked, head butted and later learned to elbow my way up and down that game.  Many a quarter was used to perfect my method.  Once I learned the elbow trick, I was able to zip through the game's 4 missions without much of a resistance from Abobo and his crew.  My earliest and greatest achievement in gaming was finishing Double Dragon with one quarter, of course, it was a day where the grocery store was empty so I shared my victory with Luis’ daughter Marisol, who was my age, but could give a damn about video games. She was my first rejection, but the victory was too sweet to bring me down.

I would play Double Dragon every day until it was taken out.  I would always ensure that the high score read “KWK” and if not, I would mop the floors, take out the trash, whatever it took for more quarters to rectify the situation.  The other arcades that replaced it never had the excitement that Double Dragon did.  It was definitely a golden age for the grocery store, kind of like the movie Awakenings.  For that summer, it was amazing, but after that summer, it was just a memory.

Flash Forward 23 years.  I still play Double Dragon on the Xbox LIVE Arcade, which is one of the few games I have all of the achievements for.  And I lead my friends list on the high score, which is the only way I would allow myself to sleep at night.  I recently found an arcade in the suburbs of Chicago that is quite amazing.  It is a mecca for arcades and old school gaming, as well as one of the strongest fighting game communities.  This magical place is called The Galloping Ghost Arcade.  As soon as I walked in, I felt 7 all over again. The excitement was back.  And even better, the aura of an arcade was glowing in the first row toward the back of the arcade.  As I followed it, I found my first childhood sweetheart, Double Dragon.  I fell in love all over again.  Even though I had over 200 arcades to spend my time with, I couldn’t help catching up with Billy and Jimmy Lee.  

For a time, I set the local record there and only recently was taken down.  But I try to go back as often as I can to reclaim my throne.  It’s not just a score to me; I feel like I owe this game my best, because it stuck with me for so many years and cheered me up through every breakup and downfall in life.  I had Double Dragon, and that could never let me down.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Rolling in the 'Cheevs

So we got our Xbox in 2008 (I think in June?  I'm not entirely sure, and it would require more research than I can put in right now to find out...)  And on Novermber 10, 2011 I hit 10,000 Gamerscore, which means it took me a little over 3 years to get 10k.  It is now May 2012, and I'm edging in on 15,000 (currently 14,282).  That means that I have done as much in 6 months as I did in approximately a year and a half before.

I hit 10,000, and ever since I have been rolling in the 'cheevs.
I feel like this...but better.
I am on such a roll that today I turned on SSX, and the mere act of turning it on gave me 15 gs.  Talk about boss mode, right?  (If you're wondering, I got the achievement for having all the bronze explore badges, the final one I had needed required a rival to lose to my challenge which happened when I was not playing the game.)

My roll was increased on May 2 when I 100%-ed Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4, and May 10 when I got the 100% on Kingdom for Keflings.  I had been sitting on a couple multiplayer achievos on Keflings that just needed time and effort to knock out, and I am glad to have them done.  I found help on the Achievement/Trophy Hunter Facebook group that Debbie mentioned in her blog about having the best multi-player experience possible.  It is great to have a group to go to for achievement help, instead of just shooting in the dark on the hope you find someone tolerable and, more rarely, actually helpful.

The much bigger deal for me was the completion on Lego Harry Potter, because it is my first "real" 100%, my first 1,000 gs on a single game.  It feels amazing!!  And it has inspired me to try and get more 100%'s knocked out.  I returned to Borderlands to get the achievements for playing a character of each class.  I took down a few achievos from Carnival Games, and even dominated Bejeweled Blitz Live.  Now I'm re-entering the world of Mass Effect (2, so I can get to 3 and know what all this controversy is about!)

It is definitely a great time for me and my gamerscore, and I am proud!  Hopefully this particular blog inspires you to go out and 100% something.. Leave a comment and let me know which game you're going to work on.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

You Never Know Until You Try

At Achievos, we are constantly encouraging people to branch out and try new things.  Swear your loyalty to shooters alone?  Try an RPG or action game.  Refuse to buy a Kinect without having played it ?  Spend an afternoon at a friends' house to see if it's a better fit than you think.  I had always sworn off MMO games, so when Star Wars: The Old Republic came around, I thought I finally found my way into the genre.  As the blog title suggests, it didn't go so well.

A lot of my friends play one MMO or another, and they have all warned me that they quickly become a giant time suck.  I was warned to get all of my affairs in order and stock the kitchen because I wouldn't be leaving my apartment any time soon.  With all the praise and warnings, I was optimistic and ready to dive into a world of video games and never return.  But when I arrived, I was so miserable.

My very first problem, is the computing requirements for such a game.  This is going to sound braggy and gross, but I happen to have a really awesome laptop.  It has the latest and greatest chip, cards, and processors (at least for the next five minutes) and it was burning up and loud as hell trying to keep up with this game.  There wasn't any lag and it looked great, but these games put a serious strain on my machine.  Some people are totally okay with tying up a huge portion of their hard drive with one game, because maybe that's the only PC game they really tackle.  That's just not my style and I'm over-protective of my baby.

Hardware aside, I really did not like the game play.  The things I didn't like were not exclusively linked to SWTOR, they run common through most MMOs.  First, I don't like the locked camera angle.  In most games that I play, be them PC or console, I can shift around the camera much easier.  Being locked in place really gives me that sea-sick feeling.  And as Linz can tell you, it's tough to play a game when you need to barf.

The other main thing that I didn't like was that the game play in general was not my style.  I absolutely love opening every chest, exploring every corner, and defeating every last enemy.  But with an MMO, it can be nearly impossible to visit every corner of every world.  As I found out with SWTOR, the enemies regenerate in an area within minutes, there is no way to completely clear the field.  In some games, a player can clear out a dungeon and when they come back later in the game, some of the more minor enemies have respawned.  But in SWTOR, and I'm told other MMOs, enemies respawn so quickly that the idea of completely clearing out an area really isn't logical.  For most people it doesn't matter, but for me, it drains out all the fun.

This isn't a hate blog about SWTOR, and I'm smart enough not to bash all over MMOs given that millions and millions of people play them.  I wrote this as yet another example of how important it is to try something new.  Before I played this game, I had always wondered if I was missing out on something that I would really like, or even better, be really good at.  I can now rest easy knowing that I'm not missing out on something.  I've given it a try and it's not for me.  Better yet, I now have some experience with MMOs that I never had before.  When it comes up in conversation, I not only understand, but I can contribute.  I can also now use it as a comparative reference. 

That may not have been my end goal, but I'm glad I tried it anyways.  I learned something new and now the very large gaming portion of my brain can rest a little easier.