The Digital Scooby Snack -- The Platforms and Pitfalls of Achievements
- Jan 21, 2009 1:56 pm GMT
- 195 Comments
When we eventually look back on this generation, we will see a couple of things that the industry will benefit on: more mature themes in games (Heavy Rain, Fable II, Fallout 3), the meteoric rise of downloadable games and content and the virtual "that's a good boy" pat on the back that is Achievements. On this post, the focus will be that of Achievements.
Let's face it, achievements have now become an integral part of the quality of the game, whether or not the system its intented on allows for an overall score across its system (a la Xbox Live and PSN Trophies). Gamers need the feeling of "Hey, you're playing this game this way, and guess what? We are so proud of you doing so." To some, it's become a blessing, others a hinderance and to a very few people: a curse.
The purpose of this post is to reflect on the good, the strange and the bad of the achievement system on any and all platforms. So, let's start with the good, shall we?
+ Feeling of Progression - Let's be honest, there were some games where you felt "Hey, I'm almost done with the game!", only to realize that you were only...well, 35% of the way in the game. Achievements for some games reward you as your progress through the game, letting you know that you are hitting pivotal plot points in the game that advance you further into the story or into the main objective of the game.
Speak to some gamers and the reason why they don't finish that great game they started is because they felt there was much more to do in the game than they could have actually handled, thus they quit said game entirely only to find out they were almost finished with the game itself. The achievements unlocked for getting to a certain level or to a certain area usually signify when something "interesting" is going to happen in the next few hours.
+ Another Form of Competition - "Yeah, I've had like, I dunno, 35 Headshots with a Double Barrelled Sawed Off Shotgun while playing during a summer solstice." If some guy told you that, you're more than likely brush him off and say something not so nice involving a shotgun of an other sort. But...wait a second, then you see this achievement on his Gamerscore:
Eclipse of the Shell - 20G - Pull of 35 Headshots Using a Double Barreled Sawed Off Shotgun while playing during a summer solstice and watching Heroes, Season 3 Episode: The Eclipse
After commenting on his abhorrent choice in television entertainment (or of what a complete achievement whore he's become), you feel strangely compelled to pick up that copy of whatever it is this guy is playing and play it again, just to get that bloody achievement. Now, you find more replayability with that game then you did previously, just because of virtual bragging rights.
+ Personal Satisfaction - Be honest...when you got those 1000 Achievement Points for that game (and not Avatar...I'm looking at you Ruff_3dgz) that feeling of "Ahh...finished!" was all the more sweeter. That's more or less akin to getting all of the stars in Super Mario 64 and all of the secret areas in Donkey Kong Country...you not only beat this game, you conquered it.
One of the main problems with games in the previous generations is that very few of them made you really feel you achieved anything. Either they made you feel like you're running through the motions or that the game was, generally, a cakewalk. With the advent of achievements, the game's relative difficulty or its conventions can be conveniently masked with a sort of chotchke reward.
Furthermore, with the overall score in XBL's Gamerscore, there's a sense of nerdery pride and satisfaction when you finally reach 10,000 or 20,000 or 30,000 points. I remember when I finally reached 20,000 after a year and a half of playing 360 games...the enormous amount of achieving I felt with my gaming time never felt so satisfying. It almost makes me feel like the crushing lack of social life I had was much worth it....almost.
Those are all great things about the Achievement system. Let's look at some of the stranger things:
? Achievement Whores - Everyone in their gaming circle has one. This is a person who deliberately finds exploits, cheats and horridly easy games to get the most achievement points in as little time as possible. You know, the guy who you found just three days ago playing Peter Jackson's King Kong and NBA 2K6.
These puzzling individuals seem to not care if they are having fun with the game, just as long as they dish out those tasty achievement points with that little sound that pops up when you recieve them, they are set. They are the ones who, while you're playing a round of Left 4 Dead, decline because they need to get the final points in Phantasy Star Universe...yeah, that guy.
? Suddenly, OK games are good again! - Admit it...you've played a game where you've sat there, shooting at Random Bad Guy 12 and said "Man, there are better games to play but...hey I got an achievement!" and you sunk down more hours than you really should have? People who played Gun, I'm looking sqaurely at you.
With achievement points, it seems that even sadly mediocre games can reatin some sense of quality with a well distributed achievement point system. It's hard to say whether this is a good thing or bad thing, but let's just say it's a strange thing and leave it at that, hm?
? Wouldn't Life Be Better If It Had Achievements? - Yeah, this is for the seriously hardcore achievement point whores. You ever do something that you just wish gave you some sort of achievement points? For example:
Got a Raise! - 20 G - Maintained above satisfactory job performance to recieve nominal raise in salary.
Bought a Lexus - 50 G - Bought the car of your dreams
It's a Double! - 30 G - Got to Second Base for the First Time
I mean, jeez, even Gamespot gives you a freaking achievement system for its own site! With a level cap and all!
OK, so let's get to the negative side effects for achievement points
- You Want Me To Do What Now?! - Ever been told you had to jump off of a roof, land on a van with a mattress, jump off that mattress into a convertible while it is moving and jump out of it before it hits a wall? So why the hell should you do something that is so stupid, insane and impossible just for 10 G?
A good achievement system can make a game last longer than expected, but to purposely pad those achievements with impossible or insanely stupid requirements just to get those points? I'm sorry, but I'm not going to do 50 Headshots in a Row while in a Ranked Match using a Pistol. Nor am I going to rush 600 with the Running Back of the Dolphins against the Pittsburgh Steelers while Away.
Yes, I'm aware that some would be happy to get these achievements...they are called insane. For the rest of us, this feels more like using art assets from a previous game to make a new one: like a complete rip-off.
- Achievement Systems Cater To Certain Types of Games - You ever wonder why Japanese RPG's aren't selling as well as they used to? Let's throw the quality of the game out of the equation for a second. Japanese RPG's, such as Lost Odyssey and Infinite Undiscovery, can last over 50 hours at a time. In a system that asks to give positive reinforcement to a type of game that asks you to invest incrementally, not emotionally, to your game, Japanese RPG's seem to be run right out of the loop of an achievement based era.
Then again, this could also be chalked up to the Japanese game makers being completely out of touch to Western Audiences. Nearly all Japanese influenced games, from RPG's to action games, seem to look at the achievement system as an afterthought. For example, one could play both discs of The Last Remnant and not get ONE achievement for doing so. On the flipside, Ninja Gaiden II doesn't space out its achievements well in the slightest, giving you a large span of time where you aren't earning anything for your time playing the game.
Sports titles are another example: Either the game way too easily gives you achievements or makes them near impossible to recieve. For an example of how not to do sports achievements, NBA LIve 09. In this game, you can go through an entire season and not get a single achievement. But, if you go through all of the tutorials and minigames, you can get a load of them. What if you don't need the tutorials to play the game? You miss out on at least 350 points of achievements.
There are also achievements that pretty much hint that there are deficiencies in the title itself. Remember the 600 yard run achievement with the Dolphins Running Back? Well, that's in Madden NFL 09. Why is it specifically running? Because running wasn't the primary focus this year in development; passing was. The game would rather you masochistically make the game harder for yourself to beef up your gamerscore. Because, why would you improve on a game when you can slap some achievements on the gaping wound like a band-aid?
- Dude, Why Are You Using A Sniper Rifle In Close Range Against A Chain Gun?! - If you played either Gears of War title you know exactly where I'm getting at. Ever play a multiplayer game that has some pretty cool achievements, but the person (or people) on your team are just farming or deliberately doing stupid things just to get those achievements? The newest phenomenon in the current generation of stupidity, other than trolling on XBOX Live and making absolutely abhorrent comments.
Nothing is more annoying that playing a game that is highly competitive and requires people to work as a team....only to have some person on your team go a completely different direction and not listen to your entire team because he's "Just 5 shots away from this achievement!"
Developers need to do one of two things when it comes to this: When making achievements for multiplayer focused games, do what Valve does and involve teamwork in the achievement, not personal goals. Or, do what Infinity Ward does and not put achievements at all in the game for multiplayer.
Other than that, multiplayer achievements provide an unstable and uneven playing ground for gamers when achievements are thrown into the mix.
Of course, there are a few more good, bad and strange things that has to do with achievements. What do you guys think? What other trends have you seen?
Respond and I will put this on the Opinion Unlocked podcast in a future episode, with your name or screenname on the show.
And as always, be sure to tune into the Opinion Unlocked podcast. Follow Brad and Bryan on their gaming exploits and opinions as they discuss the topics that shape the gaming industry and the games that follow them. Go HERE to download the podcast. You can also look at my blog, as well as Ruff_edgz on the site for more on our personal Top Tens and more.
A View of a Review 1
- Jan 10, 2009 3:19 pm GMT
- 87 Comments
After every game I play through I tend to look at what the game did right and what the game did wrong and then compare those things to other games I've played before and the gaming market in general. I think there can be lines drawn between almost every game and it's pretty easy to see why some games succeed while others end up littering bargain bins a few months down the road. This rant comes after playing Legendary and realizing that all games are not created equal which left me wondering, "Why are their prices?"
I say this only because I was shopping at a Wal-Mart when I came across Legendary in a bargain bin at a $30 price point. I knew ahead of the time the reviews that this game got were mostly average to poor but I picked the game up anyways. Before I even sat down to play the game I realized that a lot of people said this game is mediocre or even old fashioned because it doesn't break any new ground and that started me thinking of how my opinion might be swayed a little bit seeing as I'm paying half as much as they did.
I really think some developers are incapable of making great games and certain publishers are unable to fund great games and Legendary is an example of this. There was no way this game was going to be a hit and I find it even more damaging to the game's sales for it to come out at the busiest time of the year and priced the same as games that have a ton of hype surrounding them. They knew they had an inferior product so my question is why not sell it at a cheaper price to compete?
I imagine this being as if Burger King tried to compete with Red Robin's burgers at a price point level. It would be sheer lunacy if a Whopper meal ran someone $11 when the food is bargain level quality. So I don't understand why some game publishers or developers try to do the same.
There would be clearly some benefits of pricing a game less than blockbuster titles and I think reviews would be one of the first things to reflect this. Of course eventually if this price point is successful, there would be a huge flood of bargain titles competing against one another and reviews would once again level out but I think the first few average titles to come out sporting a below average price would rake in the benefits of being reviewed on a different scale. At $30, Legendary could have been in a league of its own instead of being compared to games like Half Life 2, and other better quality shooters. But no, instead they shot themselves, or more appropriate for this game, axed themselves in the foot by putting themselves in a race they would never win.
I'm also thinking of impulse buys. When I was at Wal-Mart that day, there was no way that $60 was going to be an impulse buy, but for the price of two new DVD's I could instead have roughly eight hours of entertainment instead of the average four hours of entertainment from DVD's. I actually put back a couple of DVD's and picked up Legendary. Now $30 might be a steep impulse by for some and it's not like I'd make buys like this too often but a recent release at that price that I was somewhat interested in was too good to pass up.
In the end, I did my review, posted it up here on Gamespot and then looked at the other reviews of the game. The average was 5.1 for critics and a bit lower from gamers that were probably thoroughly pissed over paying $60 for this game. My score ended up being a little higher than the critic average but not too high.
In theory, the smaller price point worked for me. Would you react similarly in this situation?
Legendary: I can't say they didn't warn me when I looked at the scores for this game and read some blurbs about how average it is. It is very mediocre but at a discounted cost, it's a good enough time. My review of it is right Nyeah.
Ports do not mean a company has given up on their platform.
- Jan 3, 2009 6:25 am GMT
- 6 Comments
Seriously, when companies make ports on any particular platform, people say they've given up on their platform. That is not true on any level, or by any means.
Now here's what I mean. Nintendo announced last year Play on Wii, a program of theirs that ports Gamecube titles to Wii. A couple games I'll bring up for example is Metroid Prime 1 and 2. Nintendo plans to rerelease these Gamecube games by adding Wii Remote Gameplay. But some people think that a company has offically gave up on their platform for this. C'mon, there are probably games being ported that people never got a chance to play in their lives. Like example, people want a Pikmin for Wii. And I for one, want Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast ported to Wii. I played the game before, but I never owned it and want it on a console. It is still known as the best Jedi experience ever and still pwns Star Wars: The Force Unleashed to this day.
Overall, ports dosen't mean a company has given up on a certain platform. In my opinion, giving up on a platform is not making ANY game anymore or at all for that platform.
Gamers as Good Samaritans
- Dec 20, 2008 11:14 pm GMT
- 208 Comments
As I just finished up my exams, I was way behind on my shopping and I decided to go to the mall and pick up some things for the special people in my life. Immediately when I got to the light covered, tree filled mall, I headed to Gamestop to pick up some games.
Obviously, this time of year is when parents are desperately running around looking for all the gifts that children want for Christmas because Santa simply cannot do it all by himself. However, the parents are usually left with a list covered in technology and video games, many times full of items they understand very little about. They are left asking for help from a Gamestop, Best Buy, or Wal-Mark employee who does not really have any better knowlege.
So when I stumbed into a jam packed Gamestop at the mall, I was buying gifts for my friends and family, but I was also going to try to help the puzzled parents.
Now you might say to yourself. Why? Why, would you ever help random people in a store? Well there are two reasons. One, I am just that nice of a person. Two: Because I think of the children.
I remember Santa and my parents having a tough time getting my gifts over the years. Mixing up titles of games or getting conned by retailer clerks trying to get the line moving. There is simply no greater upset for a child (or a parent) when they open up a gift under the tree on Christmas morning, and it is the wrong thing. I was fortunate to be blessed with diligent parents who got the gifts right most of the time (then again, I write a lot of details in my letter to Santa). But they still were not perfect, sometimes forgetting the additonal cord or memory card that prevented me from fully enjoying a gift.
So when I was standing in the monumental line, I tried to help people so they did not get stressed out and their children recieve a good present. The first case was a woman standing in line, holding at Sonic Unleashed for the Xbox 360. She commented about how she remembered her oldest son loving Sonic and how she thought it would be a good gift for her younger son. Obviously she had the right intention, but definitely the wrong game.
"Excuse me ma'am. You really should not buy that game!"
"Why? Is it bad?"
"To say the least. I would really suggest getting a different game, like Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise or Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts. They are both great games for all ages and they are cheaper too."
Because of a brief 15 second conversation I recieved a thank you, while the kid was saved from a terrible game.
After I finished that conversation, a man behind me asked: "Do you play Xbox?" Saving the man from the nerdy, "I have a 100 thousand gamerscore" answer, I simply asked how I could help. He had a real problem on his hands. His son wanted Xbox Live and his simply did not know what he needed or how to hook it up. Although a complicated answer, I told him to get the Xbox Live Starter Pack which came with a 12 month subscription, a headset, and Project Gotham Racing 4. The bigger problem was that he did not have access to an Ethernet cord in his house for the Xbox 360. I told him about the wireless router even though it was an expensive add-on. At this point we were at the register, and he asked the clerk for the appropriate item. The clerk gave him the starter kit, but then gave him a wireless controller because there was confused about the "wireless" item he was asked to ring up.
Before he could ring it up, I quickly interjected and told him that he was getting the wrong item. That short conversation allowed a kid to have his first Xbox Live experience--thus I ruined his innocence...
Last but not least. I saw a mother picking up Prince of Persia and I realized immediately that the amount was wrong when the clerk asked for payment. Again I interjected. "Excuse me, but that game's price has been dropped to $40. I saw it on the Gamestop weekend specials." The clerk looked in the computer and concurred while the woman thanked me for saving her a significant amount of money.
Through these three actions I helped three people and hopefully made their Christmas a little more memorable in the process. I did not need to go out of my way, rather I politely tried to help with something that I have an extensive knowledge about. So the next time you go into a retailer, picking up a last minute gift, see if you can help some overwhelmed person. You will not only get a thank you, but you will be acting in the true spirit of Christmas.
"Does the Xbox 720 need Blu-ray to succeed?" Yes.
- Dec 18, 2008 9:34 pm GMT
- 334 Comments
He says "no." I disagree. The 720 and PS4 will both need Blu-Ray to succeed. Why?
There's no way Microsoft will install a Blu-ray drive into the Xbox 720, and to be quite honest, I don't think there's any reason for it to do so. The reasons are simple. First, Microsoft doesn't want to pay a competitor--Sony, the key backer behind the Blu-ray Disc Association--to use its format. Second, and perhaps most important, Microsoft realizes that Blu-ray isn't an ideal format, given the fact Blu-ray's chance of success is very much in doubt.
The single benefit Blu-ray provides to developers is its capacity. But once another generation rolls around, doesn't it stand to reason that producing DVDs will be even less expensive and that it may yield a more cost-effective approach than using Blu-ray anyway?
Idiocy. This is looking at things like a fanboy, not from a business or technical perspective. They will use whatever works best at the best value. Pioneer's 16-layer Blu-Ray discs will likely be available by then, and Blu-Ray itself will be far more affordable then than it is now, and I sincerely doubt any other optical mass-storage options will be available by then for the consumer/mass-market (sorry - don't see HVD being an option anytime soon).
Likewise, this ignores the fact that Microsoft itself has contributed to the Blu-Ray specification with VC-1 being one of the supported codecs. Former Microsoft marketing VP Peter Moore and others from the gaming division have said a 360 BR drive like the external HD-DVD drive was a possibility. While we won't see that happen for the 360, there's no good reason why it can't be used for the 720. Microsoft supports Apple with OSX programs, after all. Sony and Microsoft also work together, and Sony licesnses/sells Windows on its PC's and laptops. The two companies are in bed with each other in some areas, enemies in others.
Or, in other words, the business world isn't so cut-and-dry.
Beyond cost, what's so bad with DVD? The games look perfectly fine on the format, most developers haven't had too much trouble developing for DVDs, and even fewer have spent time complaining that it's not as capable as Blu-ray. In fact, I've heard more gripes from developers about Blu-ray than DVD lately.
A single 16-layer, 400g BR disc equals 8 dual-layer BR discs or 45 dual-layer DVDs (approximately speaking). DVD-DL isn't an option, whereas Blu-Ray will offer immense flexibility in that regard. There comes a point where old media won't cut it - notice we're not using CD's for games anymore! There are some free games out there that won't even fit on a single CD these days.
On top of that, I'm fairly certain he's making a ****c fanboy mistake here, confusing platform (PS3, 360) with media (BR, DVD). Maybe not. The only concern I've heard about Blu-Ray vs DVD comes down to speed, but it depends on the particular benchmark you're talking about (yay statistics) and the immaturity of the BR format. Faster drives are coming. If anything, I'd imagine it'd be more of publishers complaining - from what I understand, a PS3 game has to be on a Blu-Ray disc, even if it could fit on a DVD-9.
I've read more than a few complaints about working with the PS3, but BR was never one of them.
But we also can't forget that gaming is moving in an entirely different. Over the next few generations, the need for media like DVD or Blu-ray will diminish and games will be purchased over the Web and downloaded to a hard drive on the console. It's already happening now in small amounts. But rest assured that as the industry realizes the benefit of sending games directly to you and Blu-ray loses its fight against streaming, you can bet that all this talk about formats will be just another stepping stone in the storied history of gaming.
The United States sucks when it comes to broadband speed and penetration. If he was talking about, say, Korea, he might have a point. But Microsoft will always have the US, its strongest region, in mind, and we're not ready for this kind of jump, nor do I think we will be anytime soon. Likewise, he's forgetting about retailers - there's not a business model that entirely bypasses retailers but doesn't piss them off at the same time! If you completely cut out Wal-Mart? They're not going to carry your system. Simple as that. Likewise, consumers are very likely to resist this as well - pure digital downloads for games do not fit in well with current views of buying games.
As always, PC's lead the way, including on this issue. Legally we're trying to figure out how downloads fit into "First Sale" doctrines - right now the debate is over MP3's, but it can't stop there. As a PC gamer, I can't trade in my copy of Devil May Cry 4, regardless of it being on disc. But more than that, I can't trade in my copy of Counterstrike, Penny Arcade 1 or 2, or any other game I've bought digitally from online stores like Steam or Impulse. This will not sit well with Gamestop and other used game stores who will, like Wal-Mart, will have reason to boycott any digital-only business plans.
And I can assure you - they will educate their customers about it. With a twist, with a slant, but they'll make it clear: no physical media, no trade-ins, no used games, everything is full price.
Until that happens, though, I simply don't see any reason for Microsoft to offer Blu-ray in the Xbox 720. I see no reason to pay a competitor for the use of its format when it's cheaper to develop for another that's perfectly fine.
The future of gaming has nothing to do with Blu-ray. And although we don't know what Microsoft will include in the Xbox 720, I'm willing to bet it'll feature DVD and a strong online component where buying games through Xbox Live is made simpler.
It's the smart move.
I see plenty of practical reasons - price:performance and business/political - why they would include Blu-Ray into the Xbox 720. There comes a point where you spend so little money that you're getting a poor value, and if Microsoft wants to continue the success the 360 has seen thus far they don't need to do something that will burn bridges. Not going to Blu-Ray, unless a truly viable option comes around and surprises the hell out of me, would be foolish for them.
Stuck in an airport? No problem!
- Dec 2, 2008 3:21 pm GMT
- 32 Comments
I was flying back from my vacation yesterday (it was great, thanks for asking) and had a long layover in the Denver airport. It wasn't supposed to be a long layover, but thanks to bad weather on the east coast, it ended up being pretty lengthy. Now, usually airport delays stink, but a few extra hours in Denver doesn't have to be a bad thing thanks to the numerous Zoox stations spread across the terminals.
What is Zoox? Yep, that was my question, too. It's a PC rig with a 23" widescreen monitor, gaming mouse, headphones, and controller that lets you kill time playing games like World of Warcraft, Team Fortress 2, Portal, Battlefield 2, Halo and more for 25 cents a minute (you can also browse the Internet for 10 cents a minute). That might seem like a hefty price, but it pummels sitting on the floor next to a bathroom while reading the business section from a newspaper that you found on the ground next to a trashcan.
I didn't spend any quality time playing on a Zoox machine (I had a nice dinner with my girlfriend), but the kiosks seemed busy and the folks who were grinding away in WoW seemed completely oblivious to the fact that they were surrounded by harried travelers and screaming babies. If that's not worth 25 cents a minute, I don't know what is.
The Road to Northrend
- Nov 26, 2008 1:11 pm GMT
- 23 Comments
I remember when World of Warcraft was in beta. The original beta, I mean. Oh, a lot of the spells/skills didnt work, quests were bugged, some items had weird graphical glitches, and such. Then again, it was only a shadow of the game it is now. Even with buggy graphics, lag like a semi with eighteen flat tires, and balancing issues that would make the Chinese gymnastic team puke, I knew that the game would be a smash hit (actual quote: "This game reeks! If this thing lasts more than two weeks, it'll be a miracle..").
Okay, so maybe I didnt think it would be the massive entity that it is now. But I definitely knew that the game was going places (actual quote: "this game is going right into the trash"). Anyway, the game launched, and heroes were born. (We call them nerds in the real world). Now, I'll be the first to admit, I was on the fence about picking it up ("I'm not buying that piece of crap!"). I was also engrossed in the newly released Everquest II, a game which made Everquest I look like King's Quest V.
As I had predicted, the game took off, partly due to its engrossing gameplay, its user friendly interface, and the general population's everlasting love of lawn gnomes. The game was a treat, especially for those of us who'd played less than stellar MMO's in the past ("When I was young, all we had was Pong Online, and everyone's character was the same!").
Fast forward a couple years and the first expansion, "The Burning Crusade", was released. Long overdue features were added, like the ability to create solid gold toe rings. The options for creating your virtual self were expanded too, to sapphire colored demons or pinkish hued elves. The biggest addition was for experienced players though. Now you could battle new and more powerful enemies, in a whole new continent.
Now as the game's fourth anniversary is upon us, you could argue that the game has changed a little bit since it was first released. Eleven million people now populate the servers (That's way more than the entire population of Guam!). The scene now shifts to the frozen north, and the new continent of Can-err I mean Northrend. Death Knights now lay waste to everything in their path and spells can now be enhanced with glyphs for truly terrifying effects. Mages, who once simply turned enemies into sheep, can now turn enemies into penguins. The horror.
You don't have to be a fan of, or even play World of Warcraft, to notice its effect on the MMO scene, and maybe even the gaming scene as a whole. Who would have thought that Blizzard, previously known for a little played game named after Mexican wrestler "El Diablo" (take that, "El Guapo"!), would be able to create worlds that enraptured so many and caused so many sleepless nights? Probably none of us. Except me.
Looking Back : November 2005.
- Nov 22, 2008 6:35 pm GMT
- 120 Comments
The purpose of Looking Back is to take a look at some older retail games for the current generation that got good reviews (7 or higher). Sometimes these games pass us by because they were released during a glut of other good games. Perhaps you've only just picked up the relevant system. Or perhaps it was a lesser known title that simply slipped under your radar. In any case, the purpose of Looking Back is to determine whether these games are still worth a look, whether they haven't dated well, or whether something else has come along and beaten it at its own game. These games should either be budget priced by now, or you can probably pick up a cheap second hand copy. I chose November 2005 as a starting point because this was the launch of the Xbox 360. Given that there was only one eligible game released for the Xbox 360 in December 2005, that has been included as well.
Kameo : Elements of Power
Gamespot Score 8.7
Is it still worth playing? Yes. While impressive at the time of release, the graphics lack technical detail; there are some jagged edges and some bland textures. However, the game is bright and colourful, and the art styIe makes up for it. There are 10 Elemental Warriors to collect, which you can swap between on the fly depending on the level design. The controls take a little while to get used to, but are effective. The story and voice acting are nothing to write home about which makes the game less engaging, but the hybrid of action and puzzle elements still holds up. The gameplay is where it matters, and the combat, intuitive puzzles and boss fights are still a good time. From what I've heard, it didn't sell enough copies to warrant a sequel, which is a shame; the progress we have seen in game storytelling in the last few years would work wonders for a sequel. Nevertheless, the gameplay is still good today, and there hasn't been anything quite like it since its release.
Condemned : Criminal Origins
Gamespot Score 8.0
Is it still worth playing? Absolutely. I played this game earlier this year, and it holds up as one of the best psychological games I've played. While it has seen a sequel, I think the original edges it out as a better, more immersive game. As FBI agent Ethan Thomas who has been framed for murder, you need to track down the real killer to clear your name. Weird things are going on in the city, and people are becoming more violent. Most of the game takes place at night or in abandoned buildings, so everything is lit by your flashlight. The game is tense, with some jump out scares, but more importantly a sense of dread, knowing that some violent hobo could be just around the corner. The first person melee combat is relatively simple, with you picking up makeshift weapons with different properties, but is still engaging despite that simplicity. If you want to play a game more akin to a thriller or horror movie, this is your game.
Need For Speed : Most Wanted
Gamespot Score 8.4
Is it still worth playing? If you are after an arcade racer, Need For Speed : Most Wanted probably has what you are looking for. Many people consider this to be the best Need for Speed game, with the main attraction being the cop chases through an open city. Need For Speed Undercover has just been released which brings back those cop chases missing from the last 2 instalments, but has met with some tepid reviews, with choppy frame rates as a main issue of the game. It's not all just cop chases, there are plenty of other events, such as traditional races, timed checkpoint races, and speed camera races (get caught doing the most speed at predefined camera locations) If you haven't played a Need For Speed game yet, jump in with this one.
Call of Duty 2
Gamespot Score 8.8
Is it still worth playing? If you are interested in single player campaigns, then yes. There might be a glut of World War II shooters, but you may as well be playing the best ones. Still a great first-person shooter with plenty of tense action, tight controls, and great scripted events. While I've not played Call of Duty : World of War, reviews indicate is in an excellent game and has made some improvements, but it doesn't stop Call of Duty 2 from being a good game in its own right. If you are interested in playing multiplayer however, COD : WaW appears to trump COD 2 soundly.
Gamespot Score 7.6
Is it still worth playing? Yes. Though the ridiculous cutscenes and plot may initially turn you off, the boarding is still great, and it rocks to an indie soundtrack. I still find it to be the best snowboarding game on the market, as it mixes realism (near the beginning) with the ridiculousness of the SSX games. The several mountains (some of which are very large, others are one-run trick parks) add a lot to do, as well as collectibles, the ability to build your own board park. Sadly, hang gliding and other such events don't control quite as well. The game also has a sense of humor. All in all, it's still great, especially with the disinct lack of snowboarding games and the recent contender, Shaun White Snowboarding, receiving less than stellar reviews. - BrokenPezHead
Dead or Alive 4
Gamespot Score 8.8
Is it still worth playing? Still fun, but wrong out the gate. Though not a bad game, DOA 4 was, and is, still a thrid tier fighter. With a highly exploitable turtling system that punishes offense, and severely promotes defense and throws, I would not have scored it so highly. The graphics are still gorgeous, but the single player, while not the focus, has taken a severe hit with the games cheating A.I., which essentially makes it no fun. The system is still Virtua Fighter Light, and the counters are still far too easy to perform, though I will say it is a good casual fighter. Though there are gobs of combos and moves, several are made useless by the simple counter system, and it's choice as the fighter in "pro gaming" circuits still saddens me to this day. All in all, it's still fun, pretty, and lightning fast (it's strongest point) but as far as fightning games go, you can do better now. - BrokenPezHead
Eligible games not commented on.
Feel free to discuss these below, and whether they are worth playing today.
Project Gotham Racing 3 (8.8), Madden NFL 06 (7.4), Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 (7.8), NBA 2k6 (8.3), NHL 2k6 (7.5), Perfect Dark Zero (9.0), Ridge Racer 6 (8.1), King Kong (8.2)
Is this a feature you would like to see every month?
Is trailing by 3 years the right amount? I'm considering catching up to 2 years to get the Wii and PS3 onboard the feature faster, but is that necessary? Given the penchant for sequels which usually take about 2 years, perhaps 3 years is the sweet spot.
Should Playstation 2 games be included in future versions of this feature?
Any other suggestions as to the layout or format?
Thanks to BrokenPezHead for his collaboration on this feature, his entries have been credited.
The funeral for my Xbox 360 (with WORKING pics)
- Nov 21, 2008 1:09 pm GMT
- 1297 Comments
The rain was comforting today.
Xbox 360 the Fourths funeral was held yesterday, November 20th in our home.
It was a lovely funeral.
Master Chief did the Eulogy. He did a great job.
Many systems showed up for the funeral. Some couldn't make it, but sent their condolences.
Some took the passing harder than others. Echochrome was having a hard time keeping his composure.
When the service was over, everyone lined up to give their final goodbyes. Master Chief was there to give support.
Even though the system wars rage on, when a system passes, for a moment the wars stop, and soldiers give peace to even their most sworn enemies. It's all about respect.
Master Chief was strong and supportive the entire funeral, but when all systems said their final goodbyes and left, Master Chief couldn't keep his composure any longer.
For a moment he felt alone. Who would comfort him? Then he felt a pat on his shoulder. It was Echochrome there to help him.
Master Chief gave his goodbyes and pulled himself together. As they were about to leave, they were surprised with an unexpected guest. It was Xbox 360's biological father, Xbox.
Master Chief and Echochrome stuck around as Xbox gave his respects to his son.
The body of Xbox 360 was sent to his maker today at 9:24 a.m. He will be missed.
It was a very nice funeral. Thanks to all the attendees including R.O.B, Neo-Geo Pocket, Gameboy, Virtuaboy, PS3 and Wii to name a few.
Thanks to my wife, who let me use her wilted flowers.
Thanks for reading and I hope that you all enjoyed!
My 360 dies due to a severe case of RRoD and a minor case of One Red Light. Also, people keep asking me about the systems. I have been collecting religiously for about 6 years now. I have bout 42 systems and tons of games. I did not want to drag them all out. I will blog with a pic of them all soon. Also, the 360 in the background is actually a 10th build 360 prototype that I got from an anonymous Microsoft employee. It was a prototype that they used during the build process, mainly the program build. Anyways, its just a collectors item (since there are only 12 in existence) and unfortunately does not work.
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