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Achievement Purchased?

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I was looking at the list of achievements for Rainbow Six:Vegas when I came across this little gem:

Use the Xbox Live Vision to create a character with your appearance

I thought your gamer score was supposed to be an indication of you skills with the games you own, not how many periferals you bought for the system. I guess if you have enough money, 30 points can be yours.

Seriously, who can possibly get any sense of acomplishment from earning that achievement?

Aside from Jeff Gerstmann, of course.

To Pay or Not to Pay....

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I'm about three weeks into my free trial of Xbox Live and I'm still not sure if I'm going to continue using the service once my free month is up. I've never really been too big on online gaming, but I'm very impressed with Xbox Live so far. Still, will the fees be worth it to me?

One of the reasons I never got into gaming online is that the people you meet online, just like in real life, tend to be jerks, morons, or both. None of my friends plays online, so I'm forced to play total strangers, with mixed results. If I do meet some good players on Live, it's very easy for me to send them a friend request. I've gotten a good number of people on my friends list, and it really is a blast when we're all together for a nice session of Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter.

I had a good game going last week. We were in campaign mode, nearing our last objective. Suddenly, one of my "teammates" started killing every other player that was still alive. After his killing spree had ended, he completed the final objective, ending the match. "Thanks for the achievment!" was the last thing I heard before he signed off.

Sometimes I think I'm better off just playing Uno instead.

The Online Divide

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I've tried many times to get into online gaming. I've faced total strangers online in everything from shooters to RTS games, but each time the appeal wore off pretty quickly.

I really wish I was able to get more enjoyment out of my games online features, since that's where many developers seem to be focusing most of their energy. I can't tell you how many reviews I've read over the last couple of years that boil down to "the game's average single player campaign is forgiven because of it's excellent multiplayer modes." Gamespot reviewers generally do a good job of explaining each modes strengths and weakness, but I'm still often wondering how much of a review score comes from a game's online features. Would Gears of War, for example, be worth $60 to someone who doesn't have an Xbox Live Gold account?

Game companies have an easy way to remove this guesswork for gamers like me. Ubisoft's Ghost Recon and Splinter Cell serires, for example, have single player and multiplayer modes that are developed by different studios and then combined into one game. I've played the online and single player modes of each. While they do have similar graphics and style, they play completely differently. Why not take the next logical step and just sell the online and single player mode seperatley and at half the price of the "complete" version? I'd be much more liable to try out a new game for $30 than $60, especially if I knew I'd be able to enjoy the entire thing. After all, why would someone who doesn't play online have to pay full price if he or she will only get half the experience? It works the other way too. There are plenty of people out there who dive right in to the multiplayer modes of their game without touching the single player.

This solution would work for everyone. Gamers would have cheaper options that cater to their tastes and game makers would have an easier time getting more people to try their product. Instead of trying to appeal to everybody and not giving some of us the value for out dollar we hoped for, game makers could give each player exactly what they want.