...as William Shakespeare once put it.
And so - after many many frustrated moments, aching wrists, thousands of slashes with the phenomenal knife and enough bitterly hollered curse words to make even the most stalwart grandmother blush to her bloomers - the Killzone 2 Platinum trophy is finally mine.
Anyone who might have taken the slightest interest in my gaming 'career' will know that this was a long time coming, and that rightly I am grinning ear-to-ear because of this rather significant achievement. But when it came down to announcing it through the self-satisfying method of a celebratory blog, it occurred to me that this means so much more to me than just your average gaming award.
There are several obvious reasons why this is the case: Firstly, it is a rather notorious trophy to attain in any case. Also, the sheer amount of time I've invested in the game means that the rewards are that much sweeter. And - a nice landmark - it is the first platinum I have actually gotten, meaning I no longer have a big, fat zero on my trophy card.
But there's something more to it than even these fairly superficial pluses. When I posted my last blog entry, after finally getting into the top 1% of online players, I spent a bit of time afterwards reading through the previous ramblings I had submitted for the general interest and amusement of the GS community. And one entry in particular drew my eye, posted way back in March 2009, titled simply 'Musings on the New Acquisition'.
It's a rather long entry compared to the others I've tapped out from time to time, and is based around my thoughts and feelings following the joint purchase of my first PS3, a beautiful glossy 80gb phattie which I sadly had to kiss goodbye when a more complex human relationship went south. Since it was a while ago - long before I became acquainted with many of the people I am lucky enough to count as friends here - it is quite likely that some of you taking the time to read this were not even aware of the existence of this long-ago composed bit of faff.
But, reading through it, it shows more than anything else the shadow of a dream which was the substance behind my Killzone 2 Platinum ambitions.
Although I have been a gamer from a very early age - my first vivid memory being the Christmas of 1992, when I unwrapped my big grey Gameboy with all the ecstatic excitement of a wonderfully surprised 6 year old - I was, and remained, 'firmly and determinedly anti-analogue' until well into my 20s. Until, in fact, my first PS3 came into my life. And then, as the March 09 blog describes, I dived headfirst into my baptism of fire.
(It always seems a bit poncey quoting oneself, but I hope you will forgive me, since I doubt I could reiterate the event anywhere near as gloriously as I did back then!)
What game was it, you may well ask, which I chose as the gateway into 3rd Gen and 3D gaming-proper? Quite simply I must admit that I began my 'grown up' gaming career by tentatively wobbling into the blood-seeped arena that is Killzone 2's online 'Warzone'. Oh yes. No waiting to even play the actual game for me! Not my best ever idea.
...As I'm sure you can imagine, it was a massacre. Even playing within my own rank I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at my futile attempts to appear even slightly in control - all to no avail. I had no knowledge of the maps, I didn't have a *clue* what I was supposed to do for each objective, and I had never tried to manipulate even a menu using the analogue sticks before. No words can express the total fail which was my newbish attempts to master the infamous controls of Killzone 2. Instead I shall put it in numbers:
Total length of time I spent playing online for the first time: Approx. 9 hours.
Total number of kills in that time: 118.
Total number of times killed in that time: 649.
*facedesk* That works out at approximately 5.5 deaths for every kill. What must have I looked liked as I glitched my way around the place like an erratic madwoman, running into places and spraying bullets til I crumpled into blood-spattered monochrome? More than one opponent stood still, watching while I spun about fighting with myself and the controller in a desperate attempt to aim at them, only to have them shoot me cleanly in the face once my dance of desperation had finally ended with my facing in their general direction.MissLibrarian 27th March 2009
:lol: Even reading it now, the absolute failure is still both cripplingly embarrassing and hilariously amusing to me. With the significantly greater knowledge of 3rd Gen gaming I have accrued since then, the absolute brass-balls of this initiation is even more poignant. The 'blood-seeped arena' of Killzone 2 Online is still more than enough to send some of the most hard-core gamers cowering for the corner.
But it turns out that this act of blind self-destruction was the most significant gaming event of my life, since I saved up my pocket-money for four months to buy Road Rash II for the Megadrive when I was about nine, anyway. It was the start of a journey which lasted over a year - the path of dogged determination which led me from the absolute epitome of noobishness to the unbelievably sweet victory of being an acknowledged master.
There were plenty of times that I wanted to give up in a fit of controller-tossing rage. More than one person, I know, wondered on some level why on earth I was bothering with it at all. There are plenty of other games out there, they told me. Why stress yourself about this one? There were times enough when I questioned myself as well. I certainly have built up a nice collection of games (that I can finally now move on to!) which I optimistically felt I could give a go when in the shop with money to burn - only to find myself reaching for the Killzone 2 box every time I got home, regardless.
Thinking about it now, though, the answer really is a very simple one. And comes out in sharp relief when you consider one particular section of my old blog entry:
I may not really be able to play it at the minute, but I've always liked a challenge. This leads me to the most important thing I feel about this game right now:
I want more! It keeps me coming back. I am determined to master this game although I know realistically it will take *months* of my time - time I am willing to invest. The platinum trophy seems as achievable to me as an Olympic Gold right now, but I know it's coming, one day. MissLibrarian 27th March 2009
And come to me it did.
Yes, it did indeed take months. Seventeen of them, in fact. Months during which I faced significant real-life events, some good and most of them bad, but all of them affecting in some way. Meanwhile, all the time I was chip-chipping away at a self-promised goal, bit by bit. At the times when I felt like life was biting me in the butt, it was escapism. When life was going well, it sometimes felt like an endless chore which would never, ever be completed. Like ironing. But like a best friend who lives in a distant country, just knowing that it existed when I needed it was often enough.
And I realise now that, really, this quiet determination is the very core of what gaming is all about. Perhaps it is the retro-gamer in me that makes me think this way - the type of gamer who knows the intense frustration of having no save option, and investing hours and hours of straight gameplay only to be rewarded (if you were skilled enough to actually complete a game) with a screen that says 'Game Over'. Or, if you were lucky, 'The End'.
But the halcyon feeling of seeing that end-screen was always second to none.
Yes, games are fun to play, and it can be argued that it's not the winning, but the taking part that counts. And that is true - none of us would bother with the things if they weren't entertaining. But really we all know that the real fun comes from the raw determination to solve that annoying puzzle... to find that last annoying symbol or hidden item... and to eventually beat the Boss.
The true essence of gaming, I have realised today, is the moment when - like an Olympic Champion standing on the podium - you place (not throw!) your controller down, sit back in your chair, light a smoke and say;
Yep. I did it.