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Power Member - Level 9
Achievements are one of my favorite features of the seventh generation. They challenge the player to try new and different things. In many ways they have changed the way we play games. Scores, something long thought to be a thing of the past, have returned stronger than ever. Entire websites like Achievement Hunter and X360A have been created and have thrived, offering how-to guides, maps, and other features for players looking to boost their score.
Join me as I continue my look at each game I have added to my 1000 club, discuss what I liked, what I didn’t, and the time I committed the one sin I swore I never would hunting for achievements. Prepare yourself; This is going to be a long one.
LEGO Indiana Jones
In early 2011, I was in the process of moving to a new house. The house was unfinished, so internet wouldn’t get installed until it was. This meant I was stuck without internet for 2 months, and during that time I began looking for cheap single player games. The first of these was LEGO Indiana Jones.
LEGO Indiana Jones is my favorite of the LEGO games I’ve played. While I feel LEGO Batman is the better game, the Indiana Jones setting and characters combined with the bright and vibrant environments put LEGO Indy at the top as my favorite of the series.
Like LEGO Batman, most of the achievements in LEGO Indy are earned for completing the game’s story mode, finding all of the collectibles, purchasing all of the unlockables in the game, and finally completing all of the secret bonus levels in the game. None of these are very difficult, but they can be slightly time consuming as you have to play through the game several times to unlock everything.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
The second game I purchased during this time was The Force Unleashed. I knew some had mixed feelings about this game, but for $12 I figured I could take a chance. Ultimately, I can see why some people dislike the game: Star Killer is a pretty dumb character, the combat involves a lot of button-mashing, and most large enemies in the game must be defeated with the use of QTEs. But despite these things, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with The Force Unleashed.
Like most games, a large chunk of the achievements are earned for completing the game on its hardest difficulty, and for finding all of the secrets. Other achievements are earned for attaining both of the game’s endings, defeating 500 imperials, or for completing all of the bonus objectives in a given level.
There are also achievements for killing an absurd number of enemies, 500, I believe, with each and every one of your force powers. Normally, this would take many play-throughs, but I found a rather easy exploit to get each one done in minutes: During the prologue in which you play as Darth Vader, an unlimited number of Storm-Troopers spawn directly behind you, assuming you aren’t looking. During this level, simply turn Vader around so he is facing the camera, and keep using one of your force powers until an achievement is unlocked. Every time you kill an enemy (Storm-troopers count, even though in this part of the game they aren‘t enemies.) and are not looking behind you, another one immediately spawns to take his place. During my first play through, I only earned one of these, of which there are about 6. Using this method, these only took 5-10 minutes each.
Normally when a game is as polarizing as TFU, I would only recommend it to fans of the series it comes from, but this is not the case with this one. The plot-holes and inconsistencies are bound to drive any Star Wars fan nuts(Why can Star Killer rip a Star Destroyer out of orbit, when Luke, the chosen one, can barely lift an X-Wing?). If you can look past the issues and view this as just a mindless hack n’ slash, the game can be quite a bit of fun. If not, well, this game probably isn’t for you.
Now if only I could bring myself to finish the second game.
The third game in my months-long hiatus from the internet, Borderlands is the perfect game to play when stuck in a place with just a TV and a 360.
Almost all of the achievements in Borderlands are earned for completing all of the quests in each area of the game. There are also a few one-off achievement, such as for standing on some random boat hidden in one area of the game, or for racing around an abandoned track in a certain time.
Oddly enough, I didn’t even make any sort of focused effort to unlock all of the achievements of Borderlands, instead unlocking almost all of them just playing through the game with my brothers. At the end of my play through of the game, the only achievement I hadn’t earned was a viral achievement for either playing with a developer from Gearbox, the creators of the game, or to play with someone that has played with them. After going back to the game once I finally got internet, I got this achievement immediately after entering my first game online.
I’ve always been a fan of the difficulty of the Halo series; very challenging, yet never unfair (well, almost never. Halo: CE checkpoint system, I‘m looking at you). So when I heard prior to launch that Reach was going to be the most difficult Halo yet, I got excited. While ultimately it still isn’t as difficult as Halo 2, it is easy to see why some people felt this way. Plasma Pistols, your best friend on Legendary, carry less ammo than ever, sticky grenades no longer 1-hit kill everything but Hunters, and shield are pretty much impervious to human weaponry.
My excitement only grew when I looked at the achievement list for the game. Gone were the luck-based achievements of Halo 3, such as to kill 2 players with one Spartan Laser shot. Gone were the arbitrary ‘must have 4 players on 4 separate consoles all connected to Xbox Live’ achievements of ODST. Instead, these were replaced with challenge-based achievements such as to destroy all of the Corvette’s engines within three minutes in the sixth level, or to make it through the ninth level on Legendary with the tank still intact. ‘A Monument to All Your Sins’ even tasked the player with completing the game on Legendary without the aid of co-op, certainly not an easy task, and often the only achievement missing from a player’s list.
What few multiplayer achievements there are were much better this time around. Whereas Halo 3’s achievements were very right-time, right-place, the multiplayer achievements of Reach encourage skill and teamwork. One has your team defend in an Invasion game without the enemy advancing once. Another, this time DLC, had a team capture every flag in a round of a Stockpile game. As a bonus, all DLC achievements were obtainable on any map, so long as you owned the DLC. Bungie really did well with Reach’s achievement list… And then 343i took over.
After finishing the excellent Noble Map Pack, Bungie finally handed the Halo series over to 343. While 343’s first DLC outing, the Defiant Map Pack, featured two solid multiplayer maps, as well as challenging but fair achievements, their handling of DLC was anything but. All restrictions requiring DLC maps in certain playlists were removed, and when a play list was finally put in place, it featured only the latest map pack, meaning if you wanted to play a Noble map, too bad as DLC never appeared in standard playlists. Add to this that achievements could no longer be earned on any map but the ones they came with, and you’ve got a recipe for frustrated achievement hunters.
After painstakingly earning all but one achievement in Reach, one weekend I set out to finish the last achievement of the game. This achievement was ‘All Alone’ which required to played to be the last man standing in an Infection game. “Great!” I thought, “I’ve done this a million times. It’ll be easy!”. There was only one problem: No one playing Infection had any of the DLC. Over the course of the weekend, I played around 200 games of Infection. I played with my brothers so fewer players with the DLC would be needed. Finally, after becoming frustrated that I couldn’t earn this achievement not because I lacked the skill to do so (I was the last man standing in most of the games I was in) but because of an arbitrary rule that said I had to do something on a map that never appeared, I turned to the one thing I abhorred: Boosting. Within ten minutes of posting online that I was looking for help, I received half a dozen messages from people also frustrated with this achievement. Taking all of about half an hour, I was able to get a game going that would allow us all to earn an achievement difficult not because of the skill required to earn it, but because of the arbitrary rarity it is to get an opportunity.
I also convinced one of the guys in the party to buy Rayman Origins, so I think this sin has been absolved.
Call of Duty: Black Ops
At this point you could read any of the earlier CoD entries on this list and know how I feel about Black Ops. But aside from the single player and co-op achievements, there are some exceptionally creative achievements on the list.
The main menu of Black Ops has the player sitting strapped to a chair in a dark interrogation room. The player can select the game mode he or she wants to play from a television sitting in front of the player’s character. While waiting for some friends to sign on one day I impatiently began tapping the triggers, and noticed the character in the chair began struggling against his restraints. Thinking this odd, I began mashing the triggers as fast as I could. After a few seconds, the character’s arms broke free and he stood up. Upon doing this I earned an achievement and was able to walk around the room.
In this room there was a single terminal with which I could interact, but I didn‘t know what to do with it. I immediately went to the internet looking for answers, and what I found I thoroughly did not expect. At the terminal, the player may enter a series of codes that will unlock certain things. Of the more strange things, the player could input the code ‘DOA’ to unlock a secret top-down shoot em’ up arcade game called ‘Dead Ops’, and even more odd, typing in ‘zork’ unlocks the 1981 triple-A blockbuster Zork! Unfortunately, playing the text-adventure without a keyboard is not really a viable option.
I’m okay admitting that I originally purchased Banjo Kazooie on XBLA not because I thought the game would hold up and be fun, but because I had not completed the game in my youth and wouldn’t be satisfied until I had. Fortunately for me, Banjo Kazooie absolutely does hold up and is still a blast to play.
Banjo Kazooie is the first arcade title I earned 100% in. While technically not part of my ’1000 club as it only has 200 points, I am still counting it none the less. Almost all of the achievements in BK are tied to finding all of the collectible, as you would expect from one of the games that coined the term ‘collectathon’. The only achievement not tied to finding all of the items in a level is one that requires you solve a series of moving jigsaw puzzles after defeating the final boss.
Any achievement hunter that enjoys plat formers should check out Banjo Kazooie. Its list is consists of nothing too difficult, and you’ll have a ton of fun playing through it.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Go read the entry for Modern Warfare 2, replace all of the ‘2’s with ‘3’s, and you’ve got my thoughts on MW3. Seriously, it’s the same thing.
Plants vs. Zombies
Plants vs. Zombies was actually a game I purchased and played on Steam before getting on the 360. When my PC died and needed several expensive parts replaced, and I saw this on XBLA, I couldn’t resist.
For the uninitiated, PvZ is a tower defense game that has the player guarding their lawn from a horde of zombies. In this desperate struggle, players will use such devastating weapons as sunflowers and coffee beans to fend off the traffic-cone wearing undead masses. If you haven’t played it, you really should (Like, right now).
All of the achievements of PvZ are unlocked for completing the game’s story mode, beating all of the game’s bonus levels, and for growing the Tree of Wisdom to 100’ tall. Growing the Tree of Wisdom requires a special kind of fertilizer, but it is expensive. Fortunately, you should accumulate more than enough money once you’ve got all of the bonus levels under your belt, so this won’t be a problem.
Having Plants vs. Zombies on my 100% list isn’t so much a badge of honor as not having it on it would be a mark of shame. Again, if you haven’t played PvZ, you need to. And if you did, but didn’t like it enough to 100% it, well, you are never allowed to read my blog ever again (Shout-out to the late, great Roger Ebert for that one).
And thus I conclude part 3 of this series. If you have not yet done so, you can check out Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.
Have you ever boosted? Have you ever played a game just for achievements, or are you proud of every game you’ve added to your 1000 club? Leave a comment below and let me know! Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!
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