10G for feeling dirty – The most insulting achievements

Originally written for 7Bit Arcade, the original has since been taken down, this one has been edited to make it read better and stuff.

When achievements were first introduced, the majority of gamers became slaves to them. Invisible points that unlocked nothing more than a smug sense of pride they may have been, but for those who got caught up in the whirlwind of trying to get every single point that was possible, their compulsion was undeniable.

Yet, in the harsh light of 2011, some achievements have started to infuriate us. Is it because they have simply just outgrown their welcome? Or maybe it’s because we all know one person who has spent far too much time trying to harvest a massive Gamerscore? Possibly, but there is a far more obvious reason why achievement and trophies have felt like a next-gen hangover and that’s the fact some types are more insulting than a half-hearted QTE. Not spit on your shoes and punch you in the face insulting, but certainly gear-grinding enough for a list of the types of achievements we don’t want to see anymore.

Harder than Wolverine

Worst offender: Guitar Hero 2

Without challenge, there can be no skill. Some will be better than others and others will blame it on the controls/bugs/cheaters for why they aren’t quite as skillful as the rest. Either you are a golden god at a game or you have to find another one to specialise in. However, there’s no denying that some game achievements ask far too much of all types of players.

Before Guitar Hero became a slaughtered cash cow, it also had the honour of some insanely, tooth-gnashing hard achievements. The most frustrating to the obsessive-compulsive was the “Start A Real Band Already Award” which was bestowed after getting all five stars in every song in the tour mode. Oh, and on expert difficulty.

Unlike later entries in the series that included a practice mode, those brave enough to attempt the challenge would have to learn each and every song in the tour mode inside out through trial and error. The level of challenge was bat-shit insane then, but the level of reward was only 30G. For those who have this achievement on their profile, I salute you. Kind of.

Press start to win

Worst offender: Avatar: The Burning Earth

The flipside of all that is games that are easier than going to sleep when your eyes are closed. Without difficulty, there’s zero fun in conquering a game or the list of achievements that come with it. There isn’t that warm fuzzy feeling of being half-decent at a game and within five minutes you’ve stopped caring about the game in front of you and moved onto something else.

While there are more than a few candidates for peculiarly easy achievements – take a bow cel-shaded Prince of Persia, which showered you with achievements within the first hour of the game – few have quite stacked up to Avatar: The Burning Earth’s  gigantic list of 5 achievements.  For stat fans, that equates to roughly 200 points for every minute of the game you need to play.

For some it was a dream come true, a quick rental meant a healthy boost to that Gamerscore. However, in reality, it’s a spit in the face of the games designers. Sales were guaranteed by the fact that it was an easy 1000g and the months of hard work would never be seen by the majority of players.

Please don’t trade me in

Worst Offender: Brothers In Arms

You’ve spent months, probably years, working on a game, imbuing it with your heart and soul, praying with every fibre in your body it does well enough that you get the chance to make more. The last thing you would want is for someone to pick up for a couple days and to casually dismiss it and trade it in for a different disc.

I get that and it’s why I can just about understand Lost Planet’s 2 “Honeymoon Period” that was awarded for playing the game 6 months after you first play. But, Brothers In Arms “Obsessive” achievement – play the game online once for a day for a hundred days and possibly sell your soul to Ubisoft – wasn’t the best way of keeping people playing the game.

On top of being impractical -if you ever have a hundred days in a row free, please let me know how it’s possible – it is also an incredibly artificial way of keeping players online. The gameplay should be the only reason to keep people coming back to the online battlegrounds, but achievements like this create servers full of people who are only in it for the achievements and trust us, it’s not a fun experience being in a match with someone who’s only in it for the invisible points.

Sponsor’s Paradise    

Worst offender: Skate 3

As much as anyone will hate to admit, gaming is a pretty lucrative business and all avenues of investment and money making have to be considered. We want new shiny games and companies want to make money.So we shouldn’t be surprised when an achievement pops in with an advertisers symbol.  Without money, games just won’t get made.

With this in mind, I still can’t bring myself to forgive sponsored achievements. Skate 3 is a brilliant game, but nothing has ever ripped the enjoyment out of a game as fast as getting a T-Mobile or Miracle Whip achievement does in Skate 3 for completing the sponsored events in the game. Professional skating maybe a sponsor haven, but the constant barrage of in game advertising feels less authentic and more excessive.

It’s not that in-game advertising is the source of all evil, just when every single aspect of the game is plastered in adverts, it’s incredibly hard not to grow tired with them all. Ironic for a game that also has an achievement called “Sellout”.

This isn’t to say that all achievements are bad and to complain about a part of game that isn’t even compulsory to complete. To be fair, some of the achievements I’ve moaned about are nestled safely on my hard-drive. However, considering the possibility for what achievements can do to mix-up the way you view and play a game, I don’t want to see these types of achievements around for much longer.


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