Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Zero points and completion

I have a bunch of games sat around on my tag that, while I have all of the gamerpoints available, still have a few annoying zero point achievements left hanging around.

Now back in the day nobody really cared about those little critters, but the most recent dashboard update has basically meant that a game does not show up as complete unless you have all of the achievements unlocked. This is a pain in the balls if you ask me, and I've never really bothered to go back and tidy things up. This week I decided to sort out the ones that would require minimal effort and leave the ones that would be more of a chore.

On my immediate hit list are the following, along with my expectations for difficulty:

Halo 3 - I have the full 1750 but still need two zero pointers for having 7XP on the 7th of the month (not too taxing) and completing the last level on 4 player co-op in Ghosts. The latter will be a touch trickier mainly due to the issue of finding required players as pretty much everyone I know did this ages ago. I have three peeps at the moment though so I'm hopeful that it can be knocked off in short order.

NBA Ballers - One zero pointer left, simply for losing five online games in a row. I can boost this in no time at all. Easy.

Battle for the Pacific - One achievement for being killed 250 times in online play. I can boost this myself but it will take a bit of time. Plus I'm actually a bit gutted as I was number one on the online leaderboards for ages due to the fact I'd never died, ha ha! Oh well.

Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts - One achievement for grabbing a mystery box. You cna only unlock these by completing the Banjo XBLA game, which I bought in a sale not long ago. So I'll gain 200 points for the arcade title AND finish up this game once and for all.

So that will be four games completed without earning a single point. Must be some kind of record. I also have zero pointers hanging over COD: WAW (for prestige - no chance) and Brothers in Arms (about seven, all for online, and requires at least six people. Bah!). So they will stay that way forever.

To be honest zero pointers do not bother me too much anymore (which seems hypocritical considering my plan to go out and get them) mainly because I have no chance of 100% completion anyway. With a few glitched/hard/closed server games on my tag I will never get much further than 98/99% completion at the very most, so no point stressing the small stuff. That said, I would like to complete as many games as humanly possible and this will go some way towards completing that goal.

In all honesty my main aim was to max out all Halo titles, and the others just kind of fell into line due to the ease of what was required. I'm sure most people aren't as anal about this kind of stuff but for me it is always nice looking on my profile and seeing 200+ completed games.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Finishing things off and heading to Germany

This week I'm making a last ditch effort to get through Call of Juarez: The Cartel for the third time in order to polish it off. To be honest the games seems to get worse each time I play it and some of the errors are bordering on the ridiculous. When the subtitles don't even match what is being said and are often riddled with spelling errors then you have to wonder who the hell put this through QA. As I completed it for the second time yesterday one of my partners glitched into the floor so that only his head was sticking out - I just had to laugh really.

I reviewed the game recently and it is easily the worst FPS game I've played in a long time. It trumps even Duke Nukem and at least that game had the excuse of being stuck in development hell for an age. On the plus side, Juarez is a pretty easy 1k barring the fact you need to complete it with each character. So I should get it done, and out of my house, some time this week.

I also blitzed through Cars 2 over the weekend, which was a fairly fun racing game although some of the A.I was a tad brutal in places for what is ostensibly a kids game. I'm not a massive racing gamer myself, but this was easy to pick up. However, that made the difficulty spike in later races even more perplexing as if you dropped down the field early on then you would struggle to get back to the front. It seems like there was a very specific style of rubberbanding in place - whereby the cars immediately in front of you and behind you would always be on your shoulder. While those a few places behind or in front would continue to fall away/surge ahead. It was rather weird and meant that if you were in fifth, for example, then you could potentially catch fourth and the sixth place car would be right behind you - however, your odds of then catching second or first were pretty much minuscule and they would often finish about 15-20 seconds ahead no matter what you did.

Still it was easy enough to max out and fairly entertaining in parts, so I'd recommend it for kids looking to have a bit of fun with their favourite characters - or anyone looking for an easy 1k of course, ha ha!

I probably will not do much gaming this week other than Juarez, as I'm off to Gamescom soon. I may well putter around on Eternal Sonata or Fairytale Fights seeing as I've started both of them, but other than that I'll probably not bother with anything new.

Gamescom is lining up to be as interesting as ever. There are more of us going this year which means the workload will be spread out a bit more, instead of having 15 previews to write up (As I did last year) I'll have about ten or so instead. It's good in a way as it means less pressure and more time to experience the show floor instead. However, it also means less time with developers and less games to see behind the scenes, which is a bit sad.

Still I'm sure it will be a kickass time once again, and I'm looking forward to seeing some quality titles first hand. As well as having a break from work of course AND getting to do plenty of writing and, hopefully, meet up with some of the journos that were out there last year.

If you are heading out and bump into me then be sure to say hi. I'll probably be wearing some kind of geeky t-shirt and making a tit of myself. Good times.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Job done and moving on

After taking eleven days to master Extreme mode on Lost Planet it only took me a few more to blitz through both Normal and Hard difficulties and find all the respective target marks on each. That snagged me the final, and rarest, achievement Master Pioneer for finding all marks. I'm surprised that a bunch of people have taken the time and effort to finish off Extreme mode but then not bothered with finding the rest of the marks.

Sure it can be a pain in the ass, but the other difficulties are soooo much easier that a player that suffered through extreme mode should find them a breeze. Plus there are a few handy guides to the exact locations of all the marks, which makes your life that much easier. I didn't miss a single one in either of my final run throughs.

Strangely enough this game is nowhere near the top of my completion pile when it comes to time spent, though the skill level was certainly higher than for things like Oblivion or Borderlands. It was certainly an entertaining test of my abilities and I never really got bored of the game, which is a pleasant surprise considering it requires four playthroughs as a minimum.

As my reward (kind of) I have gone back to Call of Jaurez: The Cartel in a bid to finish it off before I head out to Gamescom. I'm also hoping to polish off Cars 2 as well, mainly for review purposes, and even get a little bit further in Eternal Sonata and Fairytale Fights if I have the time. My to do list never seems to shrink but I'm hopeful that I can crack 95% completion by the end of the year.

I'm currently at about 91.50%, which includes all my available DLC. So my main aim is to finish up a few games that I have DLC sat around for (Tomb Raider Legend, COD WaW and Need for Speed Shift are the main culprits) as well as a bunch of easier titles that I started but never finished. After that my next big game will be finishing off either Risen or Supreme Commander as I started both and really should go back to them at some point. I'm also keen to get World Snooker 2007 polished off if I can.

It is certainly a lengthy to do list but one that I'm kind of chipping away at as I go along. Hopefully I'll get it all done and dusted as soon as is humanly possible, but frankly things have a way of cropping up and review titles will need priority and so on.

Oh, and I need to finish off Halo ODST and Gears 2 before the respective new releases land. Though trying to round people up for Firefight and Horde (which is all I have left to do) is a trial in itself.

So many games, so little time.

Monday, August 01, 2011


There it is. The little image that means I finally mastered Lost Planet's rather brutal Extreme difficulty and made it my bitch. To be honest it was a smoother ride than I ever could have expected and I am a bit surprised that more people haven't given it a go.

I'm not saying it was easy by any means, but assuming you have time and patience then it shouldn't be a problem. It also helps to learn the maps and where checkpoints are placed - then to exploit them to your own wicked ends. Did you realise that if you get to a checkpoint and then die, all of the T-ENG containers, VS suits and weapons up to that point will reappear? You do now. Using that little trick is the key to amassing tons of energy and making your life that much easier. If you just blitz through certain areas, hit a checkpoint and then kill yourself you can then back track to the previous area and scour it for useful items and target marks. What is better is the fact that pretty much every enemy vanishes too. Bliss.

Obviously some areas do not let you go back, so you can only use this is key spots but it can often be the difference between life and death. Plus, it makes getting certain taget marks that much easier.

What I would say as well is that you may as well tackle Extreme mode as soon as you unlock it. Some people might look at the fact you need all target marks on each difficulty and say that you should build up to it, but I disagree. It might seem logical to work your way up the difficulties and leave Extreme until last - but by doing so you may well waste some of your own time.

I say this because the difference between Hard and Extreme is massive. Hard mode was a joke in comparison and I breezed through it even faster than I did on Easy, though obviously that will partly be down to my familiarity with the maps. You lose T-ENG at a much slower rate, there are less enemies and they take far fewer bullets to kill off. The three big differences though are the fact that bosses are far easier (less damage given out and more taken), the target marks aren't as well hidden (so less time/energy wasted getting them) and you have access to data posts on each map. These posts give you upwards of 1k in T-ENG when you activate them and are completely absent on Extreme mode. The massive amount of T-ENG you have available on Hard means you can abuse VS suits more often and take way more damge. It took me eleven days, on and off, to clear Extreme mode whereas Hard mode took me two days. That was how big the difference was.

However, I appreciate that Extreme mode is not for everyone. A lot of people struggle on the first boss and give up there, which would be especially galling if you had gone all the way through Easy, Normal and Hard without breaking a sweat (which you won't). So I would recommend Easy first to get the lay of the land and then Extreme with a decent guide to hand if you can - especially for the marks. Then clearing up the other two difficulties will be a walk in the park.

I'm cruising through Normal now, in fact I've done the first four missions in about an hour. Due to how easy it is I can literally just run through and snag the target marks while pretty much ignoring anything else. As long as I snag the odd data post or energy tank then T-ENG is never an issue. It is amazingly satisfying to go back to the menu and start to see levels with every single mark full up, once that pioneer badge pops up I'll be extremely (ha!) happy.

In other news I've been playing Call of Juarez: The Cartel. It is shit. Please don't buy it. Don't even rent it. Hell, don't even look at it.