Friday, October 30, 2009

Multiplayer boosting and the horror it brings

Nothing is better than playing games with your friends and even boosting with them can be plenty of fun, as random conversations will crop up to fill the void and ensure it never gets too dull. What I do hate though are those few games that try and force you to arrange a big group of 6+ players into being around at the same time.

You would think that getting six people together, or even ten, would be a piece of cake but frankly it couldn't be further from the truth. Even on a brand new game like NHL 10 it was a nightmare just getting six people in one club to play one solitary game (which we didn't even have to win). A 36-1 drubbing later, to ensure the other team didn't leave, and it was a case of achievement unlocked. Boo yah!

The same success can't be said to have occured with NHL 09 which I really should have played last year to get this thing done. Sadly trying to get 10 people online at the same time and through one measly game of hockey was a logistical nightmare. Them one of our stand ins decided they were bored after five minutes and quit out - meaning the other nine of us missed out on the achievement. Poor form indeed. Hopefully we will succeed at our second attempt this evening but who the hell knows if everyone will turn up, stay the game or have the patience to wait for just one more person to join.

Why companies feel obliged to put such stupid achievements in games is beyond me. I suppose it is hardly as high on the dumb scale as the infamous NBA 1,000 people online achievement but it doesn't seem far short when you are trying to arrange everyone. Here's hoping for success at the second attempt.

On to better news and NHL 10 is done with and I'm closing in on finishing both Smackdown 10 and Monsters vs Aliens too. After which I will be returning to Risen and then starting either Fairytale Fights or Brutal Legend - time will tell. Still have a couple of outstanding reviews waiting for my attention so we shall see how things fare on that front.

Hope everyone has a happy Halloween also.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rip offs and life sucking games

I got a free copy of Lips: Number One Hits this week. My mandate is obviously to review the game and see how it stacks up so it came as something of a shock to discover that this game was, in actual fact, just the 250 extra points worth of DLC that had been tacked onto the original Lips.

No doubt most people knew this bit of information ahead of time but it took me quite by surprise, and not in a good way. Charging full price for a retail game with only 250 points is against the terms and conditions that MS themselves designed but they seem to constantly break the rules with their own games - such as Halo (more than 1250) and Fable 2 (required a seperate game to get the original 1k). In Fable's case that was remedied, so no qualms there, but it seems that if MS can release a game with only 250 points for full price then what is to stop anyone else doing it?

Hopefully the trend will stop here or some free DLV will emerge for the game to make it worthwhile - otherwise it looks like a nice can of worms has been opened.

P.S The achievements are also laughably easy and can be done in a couple of hours tops depending on how many stars/medals you already had from Lips.

In other news I have foolishly started Supreme Commander. I found a super cheap PAL copy for the games biggest ever fan (Creech) and shipped it over to him. Obviously he would need help boosting the online component so I volunteered for that as well. The folly. The boosting was fairly quick and easy but the actual game is looking like taking hours upon hours to do. It is scant consolation that apparently no one has completed the PAL version so I could be among the first to do so. I may well take on the challenge but we shall see. It is fun to see that I have over 1k in TA points for the game even though I've only actually got 100 points worth of achievements - that's how hard/rare it is.

In other news I have nearly, so very nearly, finished with NHL 10 and (as ever) have thoroughly enjoyed it. I always seem to like hockey games for some reason and this was no exception, even though I had to suffer through a 36-1 defeat just to get the six player online achievement (we didn't want the other team to quit). Other than that it was fairly painless and is a good game for anyone with even a passing interest in the sport.

My other new 'gem' of a game was Monsters Vs Aliens, which arrived from the rental company and my other half insisted we play together. It is not totally terrible and is fairly quick and easy, so hopefully I can turn it around in double quick time and get something a bit better.

Finally I have invested some time into WWE 2010 and, again, it's not a bad game - just one that is far too similar to the last few years worth of releases. Still it is always fun to smack people repeatedly with a steel chair and then push the referee over for a few yucks. It may take me some time to grind out all of the storylines and get a wrestler into the Hall of Fame but the game is so easy that it is no big deal.

Of course, the impact of all these new games on my completion score is not good and it has sunk to a new low of just over 86% - enough to make me cry. Though I will hopefully arrest this trend with a bucketload of game completions in the near future.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

200k race update

Maybe the title is slightly misleading as it implies that I'm actually in contention for victory or something but I guess it wouldn't hurt to have a recap.

Basically my good buddy Rich is leading, with Apple in hot pursuit - then the rest of us just languishing at the back somewhere, ha ha! Hammer did drop out of the contest when he quit points but now that he is back on the sauce I have no idea if he wants in again or not. Might be too late for him to win at this stage anyway. Personally speaking I'm a bit disappointed with my performance, not because I'm not winning mind but because I had hoped to get to at least 175k before one of the others crossed the magical milestone. Doesn't look like that will happen now unless I crank out a few really quick games. I do have Fallout 3 (PC) and could always pick up things like Terminator Salvation and the like, but I think I'll just muddle on as I usually do.

Frankly with the amount of half finished games I have sat around I really have no need to start anything new at all, but probably will do anyway. My current to do list includes NHL 09, NHL 10, Operation Flashpoint, NBA Ballers, Risen, Brothers in Arms and C&C 3 Kanes Wrath. Hardly a walk in the park there, but I do like to make things difficult for myself.

Operation Flashpoint is being tackled with steady progress and we have four out of eleven levels down - which sounds weak but is actually not bad going. We can also make it to the level five finale every time so just need to finalise some kind of solid plan for success. I vary between enjoying the game enormously and loathing it totally - which is unsurprising due to the one hit kills and need to restart a level if your co-op pal dies. Tough stuff, but we are clawing our way to victory and it will be one of my happiest completions.

I've gone back to NHL 09 as I had left it at 250 points for far too long. So now I'm going to try and crank out as much as I can in a short space of time. I have done all of the offline stuff except my Legend card which I'm starting work on now. I've lined up a session for the 10 people in a game achievement (hope to get the club match one too) so that I will only need to do some one on one boosting which I can hopefully do with a second console at some point. Fingers crossed.

NHL 10 is also, rather foolishly, on my to do list and I'm trying to approach it from the same angle. If I can get the 6 people in a match and online league (needs four people) achievements done with then I should be good to mop up the rest of the tasks fairly easily. Fingers crossed.

This week will see Brutal Legend land, so I may well pick it up at some point which will give me something else to contend with. I think I need to try and focus my efforts on a few games at a time really as at the moment I am in danger of being swamped.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The calm before the storm

Well it seems that the Xmas rush is due to begin (or maybe it already has) after a hectic recent schedule that has seen me play and review FIFA 10, Need for Speed Shift, Wet, Mini Ninjas, Risen and NHL 10. Those last two are still pending, and a bit late I must admit, due to the fact I've had so much on.

Upcoming treats include Brutal Legend, MW2, AC2, Borderlands to name but a few. Not to mention the usual array of dross that will surround these triple A titles. No doubt a few of them will find their way to me for review purposes but I'll probably pick up a couple regardless and play them for my own amusement.

On the completion front my entire effort has gone to shit. Basically because I have put far too many games on my tag without finishing them off. I have a paltry 60 points in Risen, 150 on NHL 10 and 340 on Flashpoint 2. Not to mention only 50 for Brothers in Arms which I flung in my machine to get the Septemeber 17th achievement. Ugh! My % has now plummeted to about 87% or so, which is a poor showing really.

So my main decision was to try and finish off as much of NHL 09 and 10 as I could (as the old one was languishing on 250 points too) then polish off NBA Ballers and Brothers in Arms. Here's hoping that I actually stick to that plan considering some of the games heading my way.

I'm also working through Flashpoint in co-op with Webb, on Hardcore mode of course which is a bit of a nightmare. The main problem is that all human players need to be alive to get credit for completing a mission. So there have been a few cases where one of us (Webb) has died while the other has gone on to finish - resulting in mission restart. Boo! It is a tough nut to crack for sure but a fairly attainable 1k given enough patience. I'm hoping to get that bad boy done with over the next couple of weeks. Fingers crossed.

On the plus side I finished off Need for Speed Shift and I stand by my review. The game is fun in short bursts but never really has that cutting edge to challenge the big boys, I think they should stick with more arcade stylings next time around. Plus I decided not to put FIFA on my main tag after seeing the need for 100 online wins - with the amount of quitters out there it would be an exercise in frustration - not to mention the fact I'm still pissed with the crappy DLC that EA slapped onto last years offering. Poor form having DLC for a game that comes out every year anyway.

Let the good times roll...........

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

NBA 07 and other traumas

For some reason I went out and bought NBA 07 again, it only cost me a few pounds, in the vain hope of snagging the ever elusive 1000 users online achievement. The effort obviously failed and we barely got half the amount needed. Considering half of my friends list was on the game it seems that the best chance of getting this achievement done has come and gone.

Frankly I suspected as much even before we began, but I clung to the hope that it would be different. The issue now is the fact that the game is a few years old, not widely stocked in games stores or even rented that much. So the only people that actually own the game tend to be those people that are stuck at 900 points and are willing to jump into every attempt. Without a large pool of new gamers and people prepared to pick up the game then I fear all future attempts are doomed to failure. In the last known successful attempt (over two years ago) there were only JUST enough people top unlock the achievement - and that was when the game was brand new and still popular. What hope for the rest of us?

Oh well, at least we tried.

In other news I am still edging closer to success on Shift, another few badges have been turned into shiny platinum ones. I plan on getting all of the badges out of the way, then grinding up to level 50 and then finishing off the last event for the remaining 150 points. To be honest I could have snagged that massive amount of points hours ago but I thought it would be nice to have that down as the final thing to have accomplished.

I'm still waiting on FIFA and Risen too which is a major drag as I'm champing at the bit to get stuck into them and have the reviews up for all to see. Bring on the pain.

Monday, October 05, 2009

GSL and random musings

Yes, it would appear that another GSL looms large on the horizon. This time around the event is being restricted to Subscribers and Staff on x360a in a bid to stave off a lot of the drama that usually attaches itself to such an event. Will the plan work? I guess time will tell.

I am actually taking part but only as part of a very casual team alongside a few likeminded (and lazy) individuals. Cru will be on my team so it will give me a chance to boost some stuff with her in the name of keeping out team semi competitive. I don't expect to win, I don't even expect to finish anywhere but the bottom - but it should be good fun.

Review wise thigs are really hotting up. I have just finished off my write up of the Crash Course DLC for L4D - which may well be one of the most disappointing DLC purchases I've ever made. Next up I will be starting on Risen and FIFA 10, both of which have been shipped out to me but have yet to arrive for some reason. I've ordered NHL 10 too in a bid to get that badboy written up once I have a chance. With a bucketload of titles on the way in the upcoming weeks I will probably wreck my card and my completion percentage to boot. Oh well, at least it will ensure I play some good quality titles.

On a personal note I have been dedicating my time to finishing off Need for Speed Shift. Even though I don't particularly enjoy the game it is fairly easy. I think my major problem is the fact that the just drive around the same old courses doing one of only three events - so it soon got fairly boring. I did have a bit of fun with it though. The Endurance events are a good blast, especially 30 laps on a tiny figure of eight course with 15 other cars. Ha ha, it lead to so many mid track pile ups that is was more like a destruction derby.

I did manage to boost some of the Epic badges online too. My partner in crime was Apple and we managed to find a way to hax our way to victory with very little trouble. Basically I would set up a race and have the number of laps setting on Long. This would cause people to either not find us in searches (as everyone was looking for Short matches) or just enter the room and then leave. Once the count got to 1.30 we could vote to auto start the race, so I'd quickly change the laps setting to Short and off we went. Ha ha, a neat way to stop people spoiling the fun.

With the online out of the way, I only need 18 of the 21 offline badges to get to Epic status and I'll be done. Not too tricky. I'm hoping to mop it up this week and then move on to one of the new titles when they finally arrive. Bring on the pain.