I’m slowly becoming more addicted to the meta achievement systems of modern video games.
It’s sad, and I feel like I’m a bit of a child when my trophy level is 14, and most of my friends are at level 2, but it has also led to some very rewarding experiences for me. Never before have I seriously tried to 100% a game, and until now I would usually play a game through once and put it away (unless it was something special).
But now, things are different.
I’ve become borderline obsessed with these scores, and am beginning to feel as though I am ‘wasting my time’ when I play through older games without trophy systems attached to them.
Why do these systems speak to me so? Well, they give me a reason to milk everything I can out of a game once I’ve finished playing it for story purposes. While I always wanted to go searching for every kerotan in Metal Gear Solid 3, I never felt it was nessecary until I replayed through the game recently in the HD Collection.
Trophies or Achievements - I’m not biased - also require you to think outside the box during some sections of gameplay. For instance, playing a level without touchingly the water in AC3: Liberation, or surviving Ravenholme using only the gravity gun in Half Life 2.
Sometimes they make you search the game for secret areas, replaying older sections of the game with a fine-toothed-comb to try and find whatever secret or collectible you missed.
Perhaps what I like most, however, is that when you complete the last trophy and your new platinum pops you can be pretty sure you have seen everything in the game and can put it aside without a guilty conscience. No nagging thought that maybe there was another secret level, or a secret ending, or anything else that you may be missing. You can rest assured and begin a new game.
As much as I love these systems, they still come with disadvantages.
For one, they are inherently temporary: Your Trophy level is tied to your PSN account, Gamerscore to your Xbox Account, and Steam Achievements to Steam.
If one day we do end up with the unified console future, these scores are likely to become obsolete to whatever comes after (unless we are playing on our steam box). If we end up simply buying a generic video game player, popping in our Sony or Microsoft games, it will be more difficult to have these dedicated systems that work on a game-by-game basis if they are not built into the hardware itself.
In which case, what system will 3rd-party games use, or will they favour one side over the other.
And then the fanboy argument begins.
And so the software war will begin.
While not a fault of the trophy system itself, more and more I find diving deeper into a game lets you see how very buggy the software actually is. One example is Assassins Creed.
While playing through the games casually for story purpose can be fun, you begn to realise just how stiff and buggy the game is when you are trying to kill a certain enemy in a certain way from a certain location for a Trophy.
Why can’t I jump that far? Why can I suddenly not aim properly with my wrist gun? Why did my assassin fall through the world, and why is he now falling through an infinite wireframe landscape when all I wanted was to double kill those guys?
Why, when I press the assassinate button, do you leap off the building onto a civilian when I was clearly locked onto that guard.
This is more a problem with my own OCD symptoms than a fault of an achievement system, but I find when a game forces you to repeat actions that the game cannot guarantee will work each time you try, it creates a problem.
I am excited to see what the next generation brings to achievement systems, and hope they can make them even more rewarding than they are now (perhaps leading you into discounts or early access for DLC, or something like that anyway).