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A time before… Achievements

by on Nov.30, 2013, under PC, Xbox 360

achievement unlockedThe achievement system is an interesting, and successful idea. I believe it helped the Xbox 360 get an early edge on the PS3 as it offered a then unique feature. But what do they mean for the experience? Achievements are simple rewards that are given for doing something, or a series of somethings, in-game. They are usually not related to a game’s story, but are rewards for doing things that are often difficult, time-consuming or both.

George W in IraqFor Xbox Live, the rewards for these achievements are nothing more than a sense of completion and satisfaction. Microsoft never made efforts to regulate the system well enough to exploit the achievement system for competitions and real world rewards. As it is, the gamer score is just an arbitrary number, that gives people a rough sign of how serious you are at games, and how many games you’ve played.Still Scary.. Dead Space

Criticisms aside, the achievement system pushed many a gamer to greater heights, simply by acknowledging their efforts. I braved Dead Space THREE TIMES to secure the full collection of achievements. Far from making me sick of the game, I appreciated it even more and noticed something new every time I played.

Prior to achievements, I would often set my own special goals in games that I played, often because I am a hopelessly sentimental and can’t bear the idea of leaving anyone behind, or any stone unturned. One game that I remember this dedication to was Medal of Honor: Allied Assault.

They all made it!

One of the premier shooters of its day, Allied Assault combined realistic World War 2 weapons, with the fast pace of Quake and other older shooters. Several missions give you a few AI controlled soldiers who would work with you. The game made sharp distinctions between allies who were meant to survive and those who weren’t. Two airborne soldiers join you and your Captain in a mission behind enemy lines. These two ‘extras’ can only take a few hits (rather realistic) and there is no revival system to bring them back.

Not being able to bear one of these boys dying, I spent a tiring few afternoons making sure they got through to the next mission. It was very time-consuming and frustrating, but eventually I got my two airborne boys through the forest of Flak 88s, MG42 emplacements and many grenades.

I don’t think there was much fanfare for getting them through the mission, maybe one of them saying ‘We made it!’. In modern times, this would have been rewarded with a middle to high value achievement. Back in 2000 though, I just had my sense of self satisfaction. I still have it.

Some pictures from a few helpful places.

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StarCraft Ghost: 10 years.

by on Sep.20, 2012, under Modern, PC, Xbox 360

Literally and figuratively StarCraft Ghost lived up to its title.

Humans lead such short lives, especially when looking at a geological timescale. In our current epoch, the only game that would appear in the start to finish history of Earth would be Duke Nukem Forever (solely because of its development cycle). StarCraft: Ghost sadly, doesn’t rate much more than a brief tremor. It was a tremor that had many talking about it and for most of its ten years it has been on hiatus.

Tectonic analogies aside, I am not going to do extra research on it, since it was a game in which  I was only mildly interested. Imagine Splinter Cell, but you control Zero Suit Samus, set in the StarCraft universe. Tom Clancy’s Easy on the Eye StarCraft game. Yeah that sounds like it.

Primarily a console game, it had much promise, but with it being developed outside of the main Blizzard family of games, problems occurred. I think they changed developers a few times and even changed the direction of the game; as this informative comic explains.

It is a shame that we never saw the game, but Blizzard have such high standards so it isn’t surprising. Nova would get her own bit part in a StarCarft 2 mission, but I think I prefered dealing with some Jamaican. She sure was blue/blonde and fit though.

Probably severe psychological issues.

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Texting while driving.

by on Aug.10, 2012, under Hobbies, Modern, PC, Short updates, Xbox 360

Yeah, I crashed my car and shot a few dudes.



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Something of a reader poll…

by on Jul.11, 2012, under PC, Short updates, Xbox 360

I have been on a finishing game binge lately. By binge I mean I have finished… five games that have been hanging around, some for well over a year, others I had just bought. Here’s a run down.











I bought this from Play-Asia last March and didn’t start it until six months later. It then took me until a month ago to REALLY start playing it and finally finishing it this week.













I got this close to when it came out, didn’t start it for months. No idea why, it was Hamazing.












I think I got this from Play Asia in March, only got through this hilarious game in June.















Excellent Cop game, although criticised for being a bit of a pixel hunt adventure game, me rikey, Took me a YEAR to just finish the damn thing.













Yeah I got that in December, and finished it sometime in May. PATHETIC of me I know. It was awesome, and I put 140 hrs into before finally finishing the main quest.


So, all of my reader(s) a two-part question. What have we finished recently and what have we started and NOT finished. Games that you are about 80-90% finished especially! What have you been busy not finishing!

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Dead Space. Heavy stuff.

by on Jul.09, 2012, under Playstation 3, Short updates, Xbox 360

I love the Dead Space series. There aren’t many shootery games that feel so chunky and satisfying, yet can still offer a fast pace. Dead Space offers both of these, however one problem here is the horror.

Dead Space is set in a rich science fiction universe with a distinctly industrial feel, very different from say a Star Trek or even a Star Wars. Ridley Scott’s Alien changed science fiction and gave an alternative to the smooth, white and clear corridors with jumpsuits wearing crews. Alien made spaceships and the future feel very riveted and welded together. Dead Space follows this ‘rough’ future look gladly and makes full use of it.

I won’t go into the story of Dead Space, suffice to say I recommend the series to anyone who isn’t a complete coward. I will mention a few things that I find really difficult to deal with in horror games and Dead Space in particular.

The first issue I have is with being surrounded. The game does a great job at NOT just spawning enemies behind you or around corners.

They always come in through vents or other convenient methods. While it doesn’t seem cheap, it means that you’re constantly looking around to avoid being surprised. The monsters in the game are almost always loud and very rarely sneak up on you, but when you’re in the middle of a huge battle, you often won’t know before it is too late.

The horror comes in two forms in this series, the hideous monsters and a dreadful sense of psychological pressure. Not only have people been transformed into hideous zombies, but your main man is seemingly suffering from a mental illness. In both game’s the protagonist (Isaac Clarke) is dealing with some horrible stuff both inside and outside his poor brain. Evil Science/Magic is at work.

The industrial/space setting means you’ll be doing a lot of repairing and activating of large machinery. This gives the monsters plenty of time to come out and cut at you while you attempt to turn on the gravity or restart the engines. Ugh so much horror.

I don’t even want to talk about the vacuum sections. When an airlock blows out, a timer starts ticking before you suffocate. Since you can’t hear much in a vacuüm, enemies just appear. Everything is muted and has a blue shade. I can’t even use full sentences to describe it… blahhhhg.

Fatal Frame 2: This couldn’t be more terrifying!

Finally, since I played the Dead Space through four times, to get all the achievements, I got to know the layout very well. One of the worst decks, the Medical deck features a morgue (lots of dead bodies to stand up and kill you). You then have to revisit this area later in the game and it’s just as horrible. Dead Space 2 STILL forces you to go through this area, with all new horrors waiting for you. I hate returning to old locations in games, I get creeped out that horrible things would have happened in the mean time, with lingering evil still waiting for your return.

Yikes, I shouldn’t play Fatal Frame then.

Anyone else have similar problems?

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Left 4 Dead troubles…

by on Jul.08, 2011, under Modern, Short updates, Xbox 360

I was invited by a few esteemed colleagues to play Left 4 Dead system link on 360, I thought I’d give it a bash. I have played this game before on PC and was surprised and appalled at how difficult it was on the 360!

Hopefully in a week or two there WILL be four of us!

Rob, Ash and myself were attempting to finish the first campaign (No Mercy) on the  hardest difficulty. But this was not to be.

Already it was a less than idea night, with Grant being unable to come (last time I was the one who couldn’t come), so there were only three of us. After about three hours of some of the cruelest twists of fate, we gave up much to Ash’s disappointment. Rob and I were convinced we’d not be getting anywhere soon… sadly.

It’s a rough game on any system, but it didn’t seem to pull any punches given that it was a console version. Controllers are not as precise as a mouse and keyboard set up. Expert difficulty it a huge leap from ‘Advanced’ and relies on player luck almost as much as skill. We were very unlucky but I’m confident that we can overcome this terrifying game!


“Expert mode is the toughest difficulty of the four. It is not at all recommended for the inexperienced or impatient, as it may take many tries for the player to complete a single chapter. In this mode, never fear death, and always be on the move. Standing still is an almost guaranteed way to be killed here. But then even moving has its downsides. The player must be ready for anything, anticipate everything. However, they must remember that in the end, it is very likely that they will die.”


Ahh, it would be a wonderful solution.
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A quick thought

by on Nov.21, 2010, under Modern, Short updates, Xbox 360

The world changes! Rather than cast my mind back to the days of yore (3 1/4 inch discs) I wish to regale you of a more recent tale. Remember when Assassin’s Creed was going to be a Playstation 3 exclusive? I’d forgotten too!

I remember things like this when anything third party is touted as exclusive.

Resident Evil 4 Gamecube fanboys know what I’m talking about.

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Sid Meier…

by on Oct.11, 2010, under Amiga, IBM and Compatibles, Modern, Retro, Xbox 360

Where’d my week go!

I HATE YOU, yet still want to be friends.

Contradictory no?

Worse than a thousand Hitlers.

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It’s like the teddy bear picnic.

by on Sep.25, 2010, under Modern, Short updates, Xbox 360

This happens in Red Dead, except you're not driving away at speed.

Oh they’re cute now, but when they kill your horse, absorb 2 clips from a pistol and then smash you into some rocks, you’ll reconsider.

Yes I know I should have switched guns!

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