X360A's Achievement Awards 2009
Written Monday, February 08, 2010 By Dan WebbView author's profile
You nominated in the thousands. You voted in the thousands. Then a small bunch of mugs had to sort through all that and display it in some tangible format... that's where we come in.
Welcome to X360A's fourth annual Achievement Awards, where we reach out to the community and collaborate on the year's best, worst, easiest and hardest achievement lists. Back with a bang this year with more categories than ever, our fourth annual Achievement Awards takes into account any achievement list that was published on our site between December 1st 2008 and November 30th 2009 with all nominations coming from the community.
Enough of the pleasantries, let's get on with the show.
Easiest Individual Achievement 2009
As we always do, we kick off the proceedings with the easiest of the easiest. The achievements that are hardly what the real world would define as an “achievement.” Those achievements that require little to literally no effort whatsoever. Nominated for the easiest individual achievement this year are 5 achievements that can see you either pressing a handful of buttons (Assassin’s Creed 2’s Birth of an Assassin and Splosion Man’s Master the Controls), pressing pause (Eat Lead’s Take 5) and staying idle in-game (Saw’s Wasted Your Life) to earn yor reward. It was however Eat Lead’s It’s Hazard Time achievement that takes home the honey, rewarding players 15 points for starting the game. It doesn’t get much easier than that. The only way someone could top that is by gifting an achievement for putting the disc in the drive. Something we truly believe will happen sooner or later.
Winner: Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard - It's Hazard Time
Easiest Action 1000 2009
This year’s easiest action 1,000 category comes down to a face off of the family-friendly variety. Going head-to-head at the top of the tree this year was both Night at the Museum 2 and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs which are both under 5 hours. For some reason a lot of you voted for Assassin’s Creed 2 (20 hours) which may have seemed like an easy 1,000 simply because it’s such a fantastic game, but it’s not quick enough to stop Night at the Museum 2 from taking home the gold. 1,000 achievements points in around 2 hours? Can’t get much easier than that in 2009... or so you’d have thought.
Winner: Night at the Museum 2
Easiest Music 1000 2009
Due to the sheer amount of musical titles out this year, we decided to add in an “easiest music” category. 2009 was the year where we saw 3 Guitar Hero titles, 2 Rock Band titles, 1 DJ Hero title, 1 Band Hero title and even a High School Musical title. Too much Hero if you ask us! There were probably even more, but trust us when we say this, that’s more than enough.
Neck and neck going into the finish line this year, as voted by you, was LEGO Rock Band and Band Hero; two titles that are aimed at a more family friendly audience and as a result, have much easier achievement lists. Taking the title by a nose length is Activision’s Band Hero, which has a ridiculous 490 point achievement... the third largest individual achievement to date.
Winner: Band Hero
Easiest Racing 1000 2009
2009 was a great year for racing titles with Dirt 2 and Forza 3 leading the way. These titles however generally carried achievement lists that require a lot of application and effort, so despite them being nominated for the easiest racing category, they’re also nominated for the hardest. Those titles aside, it was a bit of a landslide in this year’s easiest racer, with us having to side with another family racer (like we did way back in 2006 and 2007). This year’s winner with 48% of the votes is Madagascar Kartz where you can net the full 1,000 points in around 5 to 10 hours. Congrats... I guess.
Winner: Madagascar Kartz
Easiest RPG 1000 2009
The only thing that was being debated when it came to the easiest RPG this year was quite simply, does Borderlands qualify as an RPG? If so, it more than qualifies for this year’s easiest RPG.
So Borderlands... it has extensive looting, character progression and, oh yeah, it’s our award show, so we decided to let Borderlands qualify. Its main competition this year was Vicarious Visions’ Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 which falls under the same 25-30 hour window that Borderlands did, but what separates the two is that there are times when MUA2 requires a certain level of skill to proceed. Borderlands? Not so much. It’s easy from start to finish... with a little bit of grinding sprinkled on top to finish off.
Easiest Shooter 1000 2009
There was a lot of shooters out on the 360 last year. And by a lot, I mean A LOT! Some good, some great, some goddamn awful. Despite the amount of shooters though, there was only ever going to be one winner for the easiest shooter 1,000... a list with 11 half-assed achievements. A list that requires one mediocre playthrough. A list that takes under 5 hours to walk away with the full 1,000 points. That list of course is Terminator Salvation’s... a massive list of half-assery. Was there ever going to be another winner here this year? Computer says, hell no!
Winner: Terminator Salvation
Easiest Sporting 1000 2009
Ahhh sports... the easiest of the easiest. Over the years the sports genre has thrown up more easy achievement points than all the other categories put together. Granted, the other categories have given us TMNT and the notorious Avatar, but sports has had all those easy Madden points, NBA 2K6 and so many more. Breaking the streak for Madden picking up the award for a third year running this year is a football title, but not from EA Sports, and by football, I mean of the American variety.
Winning the easiest sporting 1,000 this year by a country mile is Atari’s NTSC only, Backyard Football 2010... 1,000 points in 10-12 minutes. Yes, I said minutes. No other title came close this year.
Winner: Backyard Football 2010
Easiest Arcade 200 2009
Arcade titles, by definition, aren’t usually the easiest set of points out there. We’d even go as far as to say that a good portion of them take just as long to complete as their retail game counterparts. This year however threw up an exception to the rule in the form of NinjaBee’s Dash of Destruction – the free to download Doritos title. An arcade title that takes a paltry 10-20 minutes to grab all 200 points. Picking up a whopping 85% of the votes, there really was no other winner this year. A bit of a one-horse race if you must.
Winner: Dash of Destruction
Easiest Overall 1000 2009
This is the second year in a row where we’ve come into the final "easiest" category of the year – the easiest overall 1,000 points – with only one title and no one else within sight. Last year Avatar was a lonely frontrunner with its 2 minute achievement list, this year sees Atari’s Backyard Football take home the slice of pie with its 10-12 minute achievement list. The next closest was Night at the Musuem with its 2 hour journey to 1,000 points with everyone else miles behind: Terminator Salvation (5 hours), Saw (5-10 hours) and Hannah Montana (5 hours).
Winner: Backyard Football 2010
Hardest Individual Achievement 2009
It’s about that time where we turn our attention to the toughest of the tough. The year’s hardest individual achievements that take an incredible amount of skill, patience and dedication to unlock.
All 5 of the nominated achievements are behemoths in their own right: Operation Flashpoint’s Hardcore achievement; Trials HD’s Marathon achievement; Left 4 Dead 2’s The Real Deal achievement; Street Fighter IV’s Unbeatable Fist achievement and last but by no means least, Black College Football’s Marching Band Master achievement, which is our winner.
The Marching Band Master achievement requires a perfect performance of the game’s half-time show in a Guitar Hero-esque mini-game. That doesn’t sound too hard, right? Try doing a 522 note-streak with the face buttons with plenty of dual presses along the way. Uber-difficult sums it up... so much so that only a handful of people have unlocked it so far. Want a challenge? Then check it out, although it is NTSC only.
Winner: Black College Football - Marching Band Master
Most Time Consuming Individual Achievement 2009
Moving on from the skill-necessary hardest achievement award to the purely time-consuming achievement award – the award given to the individual achievement that requires no relative skill, just a ridiculous amount of time. Failing to make the top spot on the podium this year are two extremely time-consuming achievements, namely Forza 3’s Solid Gold which requires winning all 220 events (which consist of at least 3 individual races) and Halo Wars’ Running the Show (which consists of obtaining the General rank on Xbox Live which was around 3.2 million XP but is now "only" 920,000).
The top spot however is reserved for Star Ocean’s Ultimate Battler achievement which requires collecting all 900 battle trophies, 100 per character, some of which are beasts on their own. You’re looking at a good few hundred hours for this achievement alone, but the truth is, some of it is luck based and so the achievement can drop after only one 100 hours, or as many as 1000. Wowzers! Congrats to anyone who has it and good luck to anyone that is going for it. I think you're going to need it.
Winner: Ultimate Battler - Star Ocean
Hardest Action 1000 2009
Kicking off our hardest 1,000 awards is the hardest action game and this year there are some great titles in the running, including Brutal Legend and Batman: Arkham Asylum. Duking it out for top spot though was Activision’s Prototype and D3’s Onechanbara. It was a close call at the end of the day, but Prototype’s normal-is-hard and hard-is-brutal difficulties gave it the edge. Throw in the 53 events you need to platinum, 53,000 zombie kills and you have a good 30-60 hours of brutally challenging gameplay.
Hardest Music 1000 2009
The music games are a tricky category to judge in terms of difficulty, simply because it comes down to how familiar you are with them and how often you’ve been playing games of a similar ilk. There were 3 clear frontrunners this year however: The Beatles: Rock Band, DJ Hero and Guitar Hero: Metallica.
The Beatles: Rock Band fell at the first hurdle because compared to Metallica, the note patterns are a hell of a lot easier. DJ Hero on the other hand fell at the second, because although it’s a new game-type, it’s actually not incredibly hard to master. After all is said and done, Guitar Hero: Metallica takes home the cheese simply because, according to our guide, the full 1,000 requires “near perfection.” Ouch!
Winner: Guitar Hero: Metallica
Hardest Racing 1000 2009
There weren’t any especially difficult racing achievement lists that graced our consoles in 2009. Sure there were quite a few that were time consuming, but nothing beyond the realms of an averagely skilled driving gamer. It may come as no surprise then that Forza 3 takes the hardest racing 1,000 over the likes of Dirt 2, NFS: Shift and of course, FUEL.
With Forza 3’s solid gold featuring in our “most time consuming achievement” category, it was a sure fire winner here, with that one achievement taking more time to achieve than the whole of the other lists combined, or so we say.
Winner: Forza 3
Hardest RPG 1000 2009
2009’s hardest RPG was one of the more obvious winners this year as no other game came close to the hours that Star Ocean asks you to sink into it... and by hours, we’re talking over 250 (at least). By our reckoning, that’s about 5,000 Avatar: TBEs... which is of course 5 million points. Okay, we know it doesn’t work like that, but it shows you the two different ends of the scale. 70% of the votes went to Star Ocean this year, as far as second place? That was Dragon Age: Origins with 21% which takes 60 hours or thereabouts to complete. Bit of a gulf between first and second this year!
Winner: Star Ocean: The Last Hope
Hardest Shooter 1000 2009
The battle of the shooters. A category that is usually won by a game that takes an obscene amount of hours to complete, whether you’re talking about Quake 4 from 2006, Call of Duty 3 from 2007 or Far Cry 2 from last year, they all require a ton of dedication.
This year however, you the people have voted for something a little trickier, placing emphasis on skill over time consumption. Failing to make the top 3 was Riddick and FEAR 2 that both boasted an insane amount of multiplayer achievements. Coming in just above them was Codemasters’ Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising because of its brutal and unforgiving hardcore achievement. Top of the tree though, mostly because of the sheer difficulty of the expert and realism achievements was Valve’s Left 4 Dead 2. Achievements that not only requires you to be deadly skilled at the game, but to also have a team of 3 friends who are just as skillful.
Winner: Left 4 Dead 2
Hardest Sporting 1000 2009
The hardest sporting 1,000 was actually a tough category to pick this year. FIFA 10 won points for a time consuming list and Black College Football came a close second with its Marching Band Master, proving the one stumbling block in what is otherwise a fairly straightforward list.
Those two games however were no match for EA Sports’ Fight Night Round 4 with 3 seemingly impossible achievements for the vast majority of gamers (worth 150 points). These points are awarded for winning the online belt in three different weight categories, with there only being 1 belt per category. 3 frankly ridiculous achievements if you ask us!
Not only do you have to challenge the world’s best and get that challenge accepted, but you have to beat them as well. A damn sight tougher than mastering one achievement in Black College Football.
Winner: Fight Night Round 4
Hardest Arcade 200 2009
In another landslide victory, this time taking a whopping 70% of the votes (with the next runner taking 9%) was RedLynx’s addictive, yet frustrating, Trials HD. A great game in its own right, but a game that had one hell of an achievement list. Not only did you have to past expert on its own, which let me tell you is one tough cookie to crack, but you also have to beat the Ultimate Endurance tournament without falling – an achievement that was initially nearly impossible to complete without the skills of a ninja, but after a patch, is now still bloody tough as hell to complete. It’s amazing to think how a mechanic so simple can cause so many problems.
Winner: Trials HD
Hardest Overall 1000 2009
What happens when you take the year’s toughest 1,000 point titles and throw them into a boxing ring in a fight to the death? Simple, one of them comes out alive whilst the others have to settle for second place. It’s ironic then that a boxing title comes out on top in the brawl, for reasons previously explained (winning the 3 unique weight-class belts in the online world).
The likes of Left 4 Dead 2, Prototype, Star Ocean and Street Fighter IV weren’t quite difficult enough to grab the winning prize here. They were tough... but Fight Night Round 4 is most definitely the heavyweight here.
Winner: Fight Night Round 4
Game With Most Glitched Achievements 2009
This is a category that one day we hope we can scrap altogether, but unfortunately for us, that isn’t looking like happening anytime soon... which is a damn shame! Of course we’re talking about the game with the most glitched achievements, or as I’m going to call it, the “the lazy ass, not enough testing” award. Chances are if you’re named in this category, the game’s developers didn’t even have the common courtesy to fix it, which is frankly ludicrous.
There weren’t many this year, thankfully, yet one seemed to standout above the rest and that is of course, Ghostbusters, with a handful of glitched achievements... still, without a patch. Great job Terminal Reality & Threewave, way to alienate your audience. Go sit on the naughty step until you’ve learnt your lesson. At least you won our name and shame award this year. That's something, right?
Worst Achievement Tile 2009
There were some ugly ass achievement tiles this year and some were frankly quite disturbing. Amongst the entrants: the Guitar Hero: Metallica black plectrum (for the achievement “Black”) failed to impress our readers and the same can be said for Race Pro and Ninja Blade’s generic and over-used tiles. Splosion Man’s “Get Over Yourselves” image, of what we assume is one of the Twisted Pixel team, is frankly quite disturbing (those eyes burn!) but it seems that a good chunk of you weren’t that impressed with Hannah Montana’s over-used star on a pink background... and by over-used I mean, they used it as the game tile as well. The list only had 12 achievements and an orangutan armed with a sheet of A4 and a magic marker could have done a better job... and probably would have put more effort in. The only question remains, who the hell played Hannah Montana long enough to notice the shocking job they did with the tiles? C’mon. Fess up. We won’t rib you... too hard.
Winner: Hannah Montana: The Movie
Worst Publisher for Achievements 2009
Usually when it comes to the worst publisher of the year for achievements, someone stands out having brought a bunch of shocking achievement lists to the table which makes it easy pickings. 2009 though, not so easy.
It seems that out of all of those nominated this year, each publisher had one shocking list, backed up by some bad and some great lists. EA for instance had Fight Night Round 4 that let the team down. Activision had Transformers and Square Enix had Star Ocean. The winner however this year had two awful lists: Backyard Football 2010 and its 10 minutes for 1,000 points; and Terminal Reality’s Ghostbusters and its untested, glitchy POS list. You know what they say, two wrongs don’t make a right. That’s the case here. Commiserations to Atari and their erratic set of lists.
Worst Achievement List 2009
There were some bad lists in 2009, but some were worse than others. Our winner however doesn’t boast the particularly worst list ever, but for a triple A game we expected a little more care and effort. Forza 3’s list wins our prize this year for the worst list simply because of the lack of care and consideration that they put in... which is surprising considering the overall quality of the game.
Out of a list of 50, Turn 10 wasted 5 achievements on levelling the car up, 18 on your driver level progress and 6 on completing career years. So out of 50, 29 are generic pieces of crap. Not good Turn 10, not good at all. Possibly the most boring list we’ve ever seen from a 90+ game. If you can’t expect Microsoft owned studios to take the achievement initiative seriously, can you really expect anyone else to? Whatever happened to leading by example?
Winner: Forza 3
Best Achievement Tile 2009
You have to question the motives of our community sometimes when the majority of votes for best picture fell upon a pair of Y-front pants (Banjo-Tooie), a gnome (Left 4 Dead), a half naked chick (BlazBlue), someone punching a horse (Darkest of Days) and the Star 69 achievement from Modern Warfare 2... geddit? Star “69”? Yes? No... okay then. Anyway, the winner is... you guessed it... the half naked chick, which took home 46% of the overall votes. Are our readers that predictable, or should I say hormonal? I’m guessing it was the surreal art style that won the voters over on this one, right? Right?
Winner: BlazBlue - Hands Where I Can See Them
Best Publisher for Achievements 2009
Simply put, Ubisoft deserve all the credit last year for creating a wonderfully diverse set of achievement lists across the board, if you miss off Avatar and CSI that is. It's a bit of a turn up for the books this one... you know, considering that the publisher was ranked as the worst publisher of 2008 by our community. It's like Cinderella's rags to riches story all over again *wipes a tear away from the eye*
So the games... Assassin’s Creed 2 lead the way with a great diverse list and Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood wasn’t far behind. Throw in a smidgen of HAWX as well, and you’ve got 3 lists coming from the French publisher that do exactly what achievement lists should do. Three excellent lists out of five is a good success ratio. Other publishers take note. Success is consistency through excellence.
Best DLC for Achievements 2009
As we’ve said many times before, 2009 was the year of downloadable content, with nearly all of the excellent titles from 2008 seeing expansions hit throughout the year, including Fable 2, Fallout 3 and Grand Theft Auto IV. Gearbox were even quick out the gates with their Doctor Ned achievements which went down well with fans, although a little grindworthy and too mission based for our liking.
The winner goes to the nearly-best-list winner of 2008 and that’s Lionhead with their See The Future DLC for Fable 2. The list of achievements were back to the company’s best after disappointing with generic achievements with Knothole Island. See The Future has you shooting people’s groins in The Nutcracker achievement, dressing up as a chicken to kick chickens in the Colosseum and a whole load of other villager based dress-up achievements to amuse our pretty little hearts. A return to the form that we saw in the fantastic Fable 2 list and a worthy winner in the debut year for the best DLC achievements category.
Winner: Fable 2 - See The Future
Most Original Achievement in 2009
The most original achievement is a personal favourite category of mine and the staff. It’s the one time in the awards where we award a game and its developer for a moment of sheer genius.
Five nominees, 5 worthy winners, but only one can be crowned the champion. Valve’s Left 4 Dead 2 has 2 great original achievements in Cl0wned (for punching 10 clowns in the face and honking their nose) and Guardin’ Gnome (for carrying our friend Gnome Chompski out of the Dark Carnival chapter). Borderlands’ nod to Super Mario Bros (My Brother Is An Italian Plumber) by awarding an achievement for jumping on the head of an enemy was pure class, as was Fairytale Fights’ achievement for playing as Snow White and killing the 7 dwarfs in one play session (That’s Gratitude For You). But those four were no match for Darkest of Days’ Horse Puncher achievement, which is hilariously awarded for punching a horse in the face and killing it. What’s even better is that it’s worth 100 points alone. Original, generous and enough to anger PETA no doubt. A triple whammy win then?
Winner: Darkest of Days - Horse Puncher
Best Achievement List 2009
It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the pinnacle of the show if you must. It’s about that time where we gather around and crown the best achievement list of 2009. What must a list do to win you ask? Well balance, originality and effort are three of the fundamental pillars for this award. As usual we start with five, two fail to make the podium – this year Resident Evil 5 and Prototype were the unlucky two – and then we whittle it away to one solitary winner. The three finalists this year should come as no surprise to anyone:
Assassin’s Creed 2 – Ubisoft Montreal have done something with their Assassin’s Creed 2 list that many developers should sit up and take note over. The list itself is fairly simplistic in places – a little too simplistic at times awarding achievements for next to nothing – but the rest of the list is evenly spread across all the different aspects of the game. They encourage you to dabble in upgrading the villa, completing the linear game sequences, as well as some that encourage you to take part in some of the game’s side missions. Extra credit should be given to a few unique and entertaining achievements in the form of sweeping the legs of 5 enemies with a long weapon and kicking a guard whilst using the flying machine. A great list in all and one that other developers should use as an example on how to create their achievements.
Left 4 Dead 2 – We were somewhat disappointed by last year’s amazing Left 4 Dead achievement list, simply because it lacked the character that Valve showed in The Orange Box's list, the year previous. Despite that, it was an impressive list and a worthy winner. It appears that in the meantime, Valve either read last year's Achievement Awards or saw the light, because Left 4 Dead 2 says hello to a ton of humorous and random off-the-beaten path achievements... which we love. Whilst the whole list on the whole is well balanced and contains a few achievements for the die-hard Left 4 Dead players, there are also a couple of easter eggs in there as well, with the return of the infamous Gnome Chompski leading the way. Other achievements of great character include honking the noses of 10 clowns, proving you are stronger than Moustachio and then proving you’re faster than him. Great balance, plenty of character, buckets of kudos.
Modern Warfare 2 – Infinity Ward’s follow-up to the successful 2007 title makes the top 3 this year in terms of best achievement lists through many of the reasons that made Call of Duty 4’s so successful. Infinity Ward don’t make the mistake of sinking any distracting achievements into their bound-to-be-successful online arena, instead they spread them across the other two modes of the game: the single player and the co-op. The achievements are both well-balanced and offer a certain challenge to players who are looking to get the most out of the title. The veteran achievements are totally attainable and will offer a certain challenge, and as they did in 2007, they also included a couple of amusing mission specific achievements – like killing 7 chickens in 10 seconds. Great balance and a nice diverse set of achievements are the foundations of Modern Warfare 2’s great achievement list.
Three great lists, but for us and a lot of you, Left 4 Dead 2 shades it, meaning that in the three years we’ve been running this category, Valve have won it every year. Last year we joked that Valve couldn’t possibly win it again in 2009, but the shock announcement and subsequent release of Left 4 Dead 2 proved us wrong there. Surely we’ll have a different winner for 2010 unless Valve releases their latest Half Life title – which we severely doubt – but either way, for a third year in a row, they’ve proved they can create the best lists in the industry... without fail. Three games, three wins. You can’t get much better than that and it’s a landmark I can’t see ever being beaten in our awards again. Congrats Valve, you deserve all the praise you get.
Winner: Left 4 Dead 2
Game With Most Potential for Achievements 2010
Ending the ceremony with a look forward to the future is always a fitting way to close up the awards and with 2010 shaping up to be a fantastic year, this was always going to be a tough fought category. Three Xbox 360 exclusives make the runners-up podium this year with Halo: Reach, Crackdown 2 and Splinter Cell: Conviction just falling short of our winner. Our winner though has an incredible scope in gameplay that could lead to hours and hours of fun just chasing random achievements. The sandbox-esque nature of Dead Rising 2, combined with the vast amount of zombies and huge line-up of weapons, is enough to get any achievement fan rubbing their hands together. Whilst the original failed to capitalise somewhat here, with a new Western developer at the helm, they may stake more of an investment in a more entertaining list. We look forward to seeing it, that’s for sure. Truth be told, we were surprised to see only a handful of nominations for Fable 3, considering that their 2008 Fable 2 list was top draw.
Winner: Dead Rising 2
The year as a whole in the achievement world was a lot like 2009 in general in terms of gaming. By that we mean it wasn't as good as 2008. 2010 is already shaping up to be a great year in the achievement stratosphere, so next year's awards should be an absolute epic blast which isn't a bad way to ring in the site's fifth birthday if we do say so ourselves. A big congrats to all the winners and commiserations to all the losers. Another win for Valve... can anyone stop them?