X360A's Achievement Awards 2011 - The Best, Worst, Hardest & Easiest Achievements of the Year
Written Wednesday, February 08, 2012 By Dan WebbView author's profile
In website years, X360A turns 6 today… In human years, that’s like turning 30… It’s an age that creeps up on you from out of nowhere, an age that makes you reflect on everything you’ve accomplished/failed to accomplish in your lifetime, an age where on your birthday you want to do nothing but get blind drunk and look backwards as opposed to forwards – we’ll look forward tomorrow, dammit! Unfortunately for us… or should I say, fortunately, we’ve got an awards show to do first and so the hangover can wait. Ladies and gents, welcome to the sixth annual Achievement Awards – a one of a kind awards show where we give achievements to achievements. Funky, huh?
If you’re unaware of the Achievement Awards here at X360A, fear not. It’s a simple concept and unlike a season of 24, you don’t need to watch the preceding seasons before this one to feel like you even know the half of what’s going on. Basically, in our annual Achievement Awards we unveil our easiest and hardest games of the year in terms of achievements, before getting into the meat of the show, and that’s “rewarding” the worst and best of the year from the achievement world. So expect extra kudos for creativity, originality and more importantly, effort!
A couple of housekeeping notes here first as always: for the most part, the winners came from your nominations which you put forward in the nomination stage that took place throughout January – and of course, with our expert knowledge. Yes we’re experts. Well, at least we'd like to think that we are. Secondly, the final nomination counts played no part in choosing the winner – that was adjudicated by our lovely staff members. Finally, the games must have come out in 2011, so all those people nominating games from 2010 and even 2009, can we get a collective sigh, please? Thank-you.
Despite teasing a new Kinect category last year, we decided that there weren’t really enough games to make it interesting so that one stayed on the cutting room floor, as was the case with the Windows Phone 7 – the nominations stage threw up 4 games for both easiest and hardest, so the demand obviously isn’t there. No new categories this year then, and so like that, we move on with the show!
Easiest Individual Achievement
Never has the ‘Easiest Individual Achievement’ category been so hard to call, in fact, it was that hard this year that it was a coin flip as to who took home the award – and we use the word “award” loosely in this context. Of the 4 games we whittled it down to, three of those actually gave you an achievement for just starting the game – Modern Warfare 3, Shadows of the Damned and Rise of Nightmares. The other, Gears of War 3’s ‘Welcome to the Big Leagues’ achievement actually depended on whether you’d played the previous Gears games. If you had, that was the easiest, but taking it on this game alone – and because it was a glitchy son of a bitch – we decided to let the other three duke it out. Because Modern Warfare 3 took home nothing in our Game of the Year awards this year, we decided to award it to its ‘Back in the Fight’ achievement for starting the campaign on any difficulty. Oh, and it was the most popular amongst you folks too, if that’s any consolation.
Winner: Modern Warfare 3 - 'Back in the Fight'
Easiest Action 1,000
There’s definitely a trend with the three games that fought it out for the top spot for the ‘Easiest Action 1000’ category this year. Let’s see whether you can pick up on it... The three games were: Captain America: Super Soldier, X-Men Destiny, and Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters. Yes, they all involved masses and masses of spandex, although, we’re not sure that’s entirely true with the Green Lanterns, but hey, it looks like spandex. Oh, and they’re all movie-tie-ins, of course. Well, come on, the crappy movie-tie-ins – that we at X360A Towers like to call the 20th century’s true definition of shovelware – are hardly going to sell otherwise, are they? Have you played them!? Exactly! Congrats to X-Men Destiny then for making easy achievements its biggest selling point. We’re not sure whether we should laugh or cry at that.
Winner: X-Men Destiny
Easiest Racing 1,000
We’ll be honest… We had to do our research on this category after so many of you out there in Internet Land nominated a racer called Mayhem for the ‘Easiest Racing 1000.’ Us over here in the UK…we’d never heard of it. That’s probably because it was a North American-only title and the rest of the world missed out on a considerably easy 1000 Gamerscore. It was a pretty close fight at the top and Cars 2 nearly nipped it at the post, but Mayhem (or Mayhem 3D as it’s also called) finished strongly. What’s that? 5 hours or so for a cool 1000 Gs? Can’t complain! You better get importing folks, as this badboy is region free.
Easiest RPG 1,000
“Easy” and “RPG” rarely go together in the same sentence, but this year, it appears as if they may for once. It’s an award this year that despite being outgunned in the nominations stage by The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim by 4 to 1 votes, was actually an easy decision for us to overturn. How did we come to this conclusion against the will of the masses? Simple, we applied the math of “How bloody long does it take to grab all those pesky cheevos?” While Skyrim was simple as heck for grabbing 1000 Gs – even with the Daedric artefact achievement – and took only around 80 hours if you went hell for leather, it was no match for Dead Island’s 50 hours. Neither of those was a match for the eventual winner though – Divinity 2: The Dragon Knight Saga – which takes a mere 25 hours to grab all of the achievements. By using our superior math skills – and by superior, we mean compared to a snail – we worked out that 25 was both less than 50 AND 80. Crazy, right? Yes! But they're easy RPG cheevos, so it’s a win-win for you guys and gals.
Winner: Divinity 2: The Dragon Knight Saga
Easiest Shooter 1,000
Shooters are the games industry’s bread-and-butter these days, and it seems that every other title that hits our shelves has us looking down the scope of a gun and strategically placing a bullet between the eyes of the bad guy. What that says about the mental state of our gamers and those that buy into the whole shooter genre, we’re not quite sure yet. The Daily Mail would probably insinuate that we’re breeding a generation of killers or something, but that’s what the uneducated scaremongers would say, right? Us? We don’t care, as long as we’re getting achievements, and in 2011 there were some easy shooter points up for grabs. None quite as easy as Modern Warfare 3 and Brink’s achievements though, and it must be said, it was a close fight to the finish, but only one could win. The fact that you needed to grab a co-op buddy and get knee deep in Spec Ops whilst also whizzing through veteran set the bar too high for MW3 against Brink and its ‘grab-them-in-a-day’ achievements. The result: Brink was easier than any other shooter out there in 2011 and thus takes home the award.
Easiest Sporting 1,000
Achievements in sports games generally fall into one of two categories: insanely time consuming or tricky; or incredibly easy. There is no middle ground here and 2011 is no different – and yes, we do like to make sweeping statements. That’s what we’re good at. No, that’s what we’re the best in the world at!
Surprisingly, kicking it at the top of tree with Madden 12 this year are two Kinect titles: Michael Phelps: Push The Limit and Kinect Sports: Season Two. Why do we say surprisingly? Simple, because Kinect games have become something of a tricky genre for gamers to grab a glut of achievements from, but 2011 tried to change that. And that it did. Despite the best efforts of those two games though, none could topple Madden 12 and its ten-hour achievement list from the top of the pile. That makes Madden a third time winner in this category out of six years, with Backyard Sports just behind them with two of those wins. Hmmm, we’re beginning to see a bit of a trend here. Incidentally, the other winner was NBA 2K6 from our very first awards piece.
Winner: Madden 12
Easiest Arcade 200
Believe it or not, arcade games, despite their low Gamerscore values, can actually be a lot more time consuming than their retail counterparts - on a points-to-time ratio, that is. However, there are the odd occasions when that is complete bull-honky. 2011 was one of those times and the fact that Battle: Los Angeles (circa 3 hours) and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (1-2 hours) took longer than our winner to get all 200 points, should surely say something. It does...it speaks volumes! The fact that you can potentially grab all of Daytona USA’s achievements in 30 minutes (or up to 3 hours if you’re unlucky), which is effectively like completing a retail title in 2 and a half hours, there really was no other winner this year. If you’re looking for easy achievements then pick it up now, but if you’re greedy like us, you might want to pick up all three. After all, it is a worthy cause, right? And by worthy, we mean score-whoring.
Winner: Daytona USA
Easiest Overall 1,000
Rounding out the ‘Easiest’ categories is none other than the ‘Easiest Overall 1000’ category: a category that usually takes the other winners, throws them all into a hat and then gives one lucky bugger the chance to take home two “awards.” Aha! I said usually! That is not the case this year, proving that even after 6 years, we’re as fresh as ever!
Not only was Madden 12’s 10 hour list not worthy enough to take the ultimate easy prize, but neither was the simplistic Mayhem 3D. In fact, the spandex boys and Brink couldn’t even get a look in. “Who the hell is it then?” you ask and “How did it not win the previous category and can still win this one!?” Well, elementary my dear Watson – yes, we know Sherlock never actually said that, but it’s still a cool line (or, Luke, I am your father) – that is rather simple… because it never qualified for one of our 5 sub genres – after all, we can’t have genres for everything! The winner of course is NCIS with its less than 5 hour achievement list, that has you clicking away to your heart’s content watching those cheevos pop all over the place. It’s like heaven… If heaven had you playing a shitty game for points.
Hardest Individual Achievement
Yes, it’s that part of the show where we stop sarcastically adding quotation marks to the word “award” and add an exclamation mark as well. Yes, that’s right, we’re moving from the easy achievements to the ones that will have you ripping your hair out, so where better to start than the ‘Hardest Individual Achievement’ award.
Now, we’re not quite sure where in the '2011 rules manual' it said “Dear game developers, people like getting achievements for doing stuff without dying in one sitting,” but something must have been written down. The three finalists for this year’s category all revolved around that somewhat: Dead Space 2’s ‘Hard to the Core’ gave you 3 saves on the hardest difficulty, while War of the Worlds’ ‘I Am Arthur Clark’ asked that you complete the game without dying in one sitting and The Gunstringer’s ‘Strings of Steel’ wanted you to do every play in one sitting on the hardest mode. All - I’m sure you can agree - are completely insane. There must be only one winner though and the fact that we couldn’t find anyone who had the War of the Worlds achievement said it all. That, our friends, is the hardest achievement of 2011. Now go get it and show off when you do. You’ll have deserved it. Chances are though, you – or anyone for that matter – will never get this badboy.
Winner: War of the Worlds – ‘I Am Arthur Clark’
Most Time Consuming Achievement
At this point, we move our criteria away from the previous category’s ‘must involve tons of skill’ zone and into the time consumption zone. That’s it… We’re not talking difficulty here, just time, and there were some beastie achievements in 2011.
The two achievements fighting it out for the gold this year were Gears of War 3’s ‘Seriously 3.0’ achievement and Crysis 2’s ‘Dedication’ achievement – even Forza 4’s ‘Bucket List’ achievement couldn’t get a look in! The crux of the debate amongst the staff fell down to this: you can get Gears of War 3’s ‘Seriously 3.0’ in three months playing solidly, versus it taking six months for you to get Crysis 2’s ‘Dedication’ achievement. The real difference and the ultimate factor in choosing our winner though was how much of your time it consumed, and on that basis, there was only one winner: Gears of War 3’s ‘Seriously 3.0’ achievement, awarded for getting 65 Onyx medals and achieving level 100. Seriously, Epic, what were you thinking? Seriously, seriously, seriously. I guess the name makes sense.
Winner: Gears of War 3 – ‘Seriously 3.0’
Hardest Action 1,000
The three titles vying for a chance of being crowned the ‘Hardest Action 1000’ of 2011 couldn’t have been further away from one another in terms of how they’re expressed in the genre.
Deep Silver’s Catherine, which hits Europe this week, is a hard enough game to pigeonhole as it is with puzzle, action, horror and adventure elements – thus, allowing us to call it an action game – but it’ll be its block puzzles that will have you ripping your hair out. Then there’s El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron with its four difficulties and Score Attack mode that will have the sturdiest of players wiping their palms on the nearest dry surface in order to grab all 1000 points. However, those two didn’t really hold a candle to Q Entertainment’s Child of Eden, a game that is unforgiving and difficult on even the easiest of difficulties, let alone on hard. Gaining a certain amount of points along the way and getting 100% purification too will put you to the test. Seriously, this is one for the steady handed with the reflexes of a fox and the patience of a saint. In other words, it's not for the mere mortals out there.
Winner: Child of Eden
Hardest Racing 1,000
The argument of hardest vs. time consuming comes into play for the ‘Hardest Racing 1000’ category of this year’s awards: a subject that has been hotly debated in this neck of the woods for many years.
In this case, it’s Forza Motorsport 4’s massively time-consuming achievement list vs. F1 2011’s fairly time consuming list with the odd tricky achievement. This year though, F1 2011’s hard/expert season achievement was no match for Forza 4’s far too time consuming list. Leading the way in Forza 4’s list was its stupidly time consuming ‘Bucket List’ achievement, which required you win every single event in the game. Sure, you can whack the autopilot on and do some household tasks along the way, but it’s still a pain in the arse and one achievement that will really dig its teeth into you…right into your balls. Then there’s the ‘Factory Driver’ achievement, which is just as much a pain in the arse as the ‘Bucket List’ one. It’s time-consuming, can be hard at times and will have you at the end of your wits. Congrats, Turn 10… I think.
Winner: Forza Motorsport 4
Hardest RPG 1,000
One word: landslide. It’s as simple as that and I can waffle on for days to make it seem like a close two-horse race, but you’d see through me like glass. There was no contest here. Not even Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s complete on the hardest difficulty, complete without killing anyone or complete without being seen achievements can make it any closer.
The long and the short of it is that Dark Souls was this year’s hardest RPG – yes, it’s an RPG, an action-RPG - we debated this to the point of exhaustion into the wee hours of the morning. Taking up to 80 hours may not seem too much to you, but with a boatload of missable achievements and 3 playthroughs needed, it’s not an easy ask. Oh, and the game is hard as diamond-coated nails anyway. It’s designed to make you suffer. It’s designed to make you fight for your life. The achievement list is designed to make you work for it, and so work you must.
Winner: Dark Souls
Hardest Shooter 1,000
The hardest part of deciding the ‘Hardest Shooter 1000’ of 2011 was not whether Operation Flashpoint: Red River or Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary were tricky enough games to rival the elephant in the room, but whether or not Child of Eden should be classed as a shooter. After all, you do shoot stuff. That’s a bit of a stretch though. Next thing we’ll be saying is that Grand Theft Auto is a role-playing game on that basis – you know, because you play a role. We were clutching at straws, granted.
We were only doing so because we always try exhausting every avenue and considering every game for each category, but the truth of the matter is, no shooter was as hard as Gears of War 3 in 2011. That ‘Seriously 3.0’ achievement not only required an incredible amount of dedication, persistence and time, but what we’ve probably not conveyed is that it does need a considerable element of skill too. No other shooter came close to occupying as much gameplay time when it came to shooters in 2011.
Winner: Gears of War 3
Hardest Sporting 1,000
In the red corner, weighing in at 150lbs, NHL 12 with a few pain in the arse online team achievements giving you a tricky ride to the full 1000 Gamerscore. In the blue corner, the cousin of last year’s ‘Hardest Sporting 1000’ winner, Fight Night Champion, weighing in at an incredible 83,000 megaton, this one is going to be a close one. Okay, so it isn’t at all. In fact, Fight Night Champion with its online components becoming a pain once again was not only so far ahead of all the other sports games, we started to debate fringe games as being possible contenders.
We turned our attentions to the ridiculous Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2012 and its 200,000 calories burnt achievement, but it’d be the whole time consumption versus difficulty again. There are shortcuts to that cropping up all over the internet though. Plus, fitness isn’t a sport, it’s a way of life…well, that’s what my life coach taught me anyway. He’s dead now, so Fight Night is the Champion.
Winner: Fight Night Champion
Hardest Arcade 200
2011 had its fair share of difficult arcade games, as does every year, but despite having more than a few for us to scratch our chins over and mutter, “Yeah, that is a hard 200!” we always found ourselves back at the same game going, “Yeah, this is a bit of a no-brainer too!”
I am of course talking about War of the Worlds, whose achievement list not only requires godlike skill, the luck of the Irish and demands that you become a connoisseur of self-torture; its bloody clunky controls don’t help either. I’m sorry Ms ‘Splosion Man and Hard Corps, you’re not in the same league as War of the Worlds. In fact, this could be one of the hardest Xbox Live Arcade games on the platform. We know it didn’t sell particularly well, but the fact that out of the eight people on our leaderboard, the highest score someone has in it is 20 points, that should tell you all you need to know. 110 are fairly attainable too, but those last 90, you may as well give up before you start. Honestly, that's a sound piece of advice right there.
Winner: War of the Worlds
Hardest Overall 1,000
As always, wrapping up the hardest section of our awards show is the ‘Hardest Overall 1000’ category and although I’d love to sit here and nonchalantly spiel the same story that I did in our ‘Easiest Overall 1000,’ sadly I can’t.
The four frontrunners for this year’s award were in fact all mentioned in previous categories: Dark Souls won ‘Hardest RPG;’ Gears of War won ‘Hardest Shooter;’ Catherine came runner up in ‘Hardest Action;’ whilst ‘Child of Eden’ won the ‘Hardest Action.’ In the eyes of us here at X360A though, there was only one winner. There was only one game that we looked at out of those four that required a ridiculously high skill level that probably only one in every one million gamers actually had in their arsenal. One game that was as beautiful as it was frustrating… Is it any shock that this game is Japanese too? No? Well you’re right. Beautiful, frustrating, insanely hard and ridiculously hard achievements…yes, Child of Eden is a clear winner this year.
Winner: Child of Eden
Game With Most Glitched Achievements
Every year I sit here and sigh with disbelief that we still have to keep this category running. It honestly astonishes us. How hard is it to create a game and have achievements that work and unlock properly? The answer is obviously, it’s very hard. Well, it must be if we’re still harping on about it. It shouldn’t be though.
In the running for one of the worst awards you can possibly win on the internet were three games, one of which (Battlewagon – with six (!) glitched achievements) was a Windows Phone 7 game. When you factor it against its competition and budgets though, you can’t but help give it a break. Its opposition: the multi-million costing Crysis 2, with two of its achievements causing gamers problems and Dead Island, with one achievement that if it screwed you, forced you to repeat a significant portion of the game – which has since been patched. The “winner”? Easy. It’s Crysis 2 and although a fix has been promised, nearly a year after launch, that’s not the case. How can a developer of Crytek’s calibre allow this sort of travesty to seep through the net? It’s unforgivable. So much for German efficiency!
Winner: Crysis 2
Worst Achievement Picture
Before we wrap up the worst of the worst with the ‘Worst Achievement List’ and move on to bigger and brighter things, it’s time to turn our attention to those sexy little achievement tiles. Or in this case, those horrible pesky little things.
2011, as with every year, threw up its fair share of ugly-ass tiles and glimpses at lazy development. The weird thing is that Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked’s repeated use of the A in its 9 achievements, Rango’s repeated use of a target in 14 of its 46 achievements or the fact Forza 4 used a fugly-ass anchor to represent Driver Level 10 in Career Mode – is Turn 10 calling me a wanker for getting to level 10!? – didn’t really annoy us that much.
What really wound us up this year’s was NCAA Football 12 and Madden 12’s flagrant whoring-out of their achievement tiles to advertisers. It could have gone either way this year: to NCAA’s Nissan whore-out tile or Madden 12’s Verizon-whored-out tile, but we needed a winner. So based on the fact that Madden 12 is a globally released game, Madden’s taking home this one! Give gamers some credit EA, and the effort they deserve.
Winner: Madden 12 – Verizon Scoreboard Overload
Worst Company for Achievements
One could argue that Japan just don’t get achievements. Others could argue that they get them, but just want to make you work for them. We’d argue that they’re a sadistic bunch of so-and-sos.
For the second year running then, it seems that Capcom has taken home the boobie prize, claiming the collective worst achievement lists award of the year. No, we’re not just awarding this award because their achievement lists are stupidly hard at times, but they create lists they tend to have little or next to no creativity as well. The perfect example of this has to be their Resident Evil 4 HD remake from this year… 12 achievements, 1000 Gamerscore. What is this? 2006 all over again!?
Although Dead Rising: Off The Record was an improvement over recent iterations, Capcom took a step backwards from the brilliant Marvel vs. Capcom 3 list to the Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 list, revealing they really don’t know what gamers want from achievements. It’s definitely a better bunch from Capcom this year, but the Resi 4 HD remake and Resident Evil: Code Veronica X lists were two huge missed opportunities.
Worst Achievement List
Based on our little tirade in the previous category, the winner of this year’s ‘Worst Achievement List’ might not come as much of a shock to you: Resident Evil 4 HD. There’s no point trying to sugar coat it, there really isn’t. You’d see right past it anyway.
Not even Forza 4’s 'completely devoid of inspiration' achievement list was enough to topple it and the same goes with Gears of War 3’s list, which has been tainted by that damn ‘Seriously 3.0.’ Hell, Alvin & The Chipmunk’s nine achievements for 1,000 points didn’t anger us as much as the eventual winner’s.
Resident Evil 4 HD’s achievement list is an opportunity missed. For a game that’s generally held as one of the greatest of all time, a game that fans of the franchise would lap up and play till the cows come home, Capcom could have at least taken the effort to give something back to them: you know, a group of people who’d already played the game and was going to re-buy it with an HD skin. Give the people something to play though, an incentive…entice them to do stuff they might not have done before. DON’T give them 12 achievements with no real creativity or thought whatsoever. It’s a disservice.
Let this be a lesson to any developer looking to do a HD remake. At least treat your fans with the respect and effort that they deserve, especially if you want them to splash out and essentially buy the same game again. Come on, that’s the least you can do.
Winner: Resident Evil 4 HD
Best Achievement Picture
It’s fairly clear based on this year’s nominations in terms of the ‘Best Achievement Picture’ category that humour played a big part in your nominations... or hormones.
In fact, four of the five would all fall under that heading… Whether you’re talking about the poop holding hand of Duke Nukem Forever’s ‘Turd Burglar’ achievement; the FFFFUUUUUU meme in Bulletstorm’s ‘Armed and Dangerous’ achievement tile; the face of agony of Saints Row: The Third’s ‘Ow My Balls!’ achievement or its dollar-sign protected nipple stickers of its ‘Gotta Break Em’ In’ achievement; we can see the pattern of thinking here. Making up the final five though is Catherine’s tile for its ‘Dreams Come True’ achievement which is…well, there’s no easier way to put this, but it’s Catherine’s cleavage with ‘End’ slapped on it in blood. I’d like to think this was nominated for an artistic or ironic purpose, but I get the feeling I couldn’t be further from the truth. Regardless, we – like the rest of the internet – are a huge fan of nods to popular culture, and more importantly, internet memes, so Bulletstorm’s ‘Armed and Dangerous’ achievement tile wins it.
Winner: Bulletstorm - ‘Armed and Dangerous’
Best Publisher for Achievements
Consistency is the key factor in this category… there’s no point having five amazing achievement lists and five terrible ones. That’s not helping anyone! It may come as no surprise then to hear that this year’s winner is Bethesda.
Bethesda might not have had an incredible amount of games out this year, but every one they did put out generally showed a little creativity and played up to the strengths of the games they were supporting.
Brink’s achievements might have been a tad too easy, but as we said in our review, it has exceptional balance. Hunted: The Demon’s Forge may have had a rather mediocre list, but it encouraged gamers to play the game co-operatively, which is where the game shined. Then there’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which although it didn’t really show bursts of creativity achievements-wise, it actually achieved what it needed to rather effortlessly. It’s a list that pushes you into the game’s best quests – namely the Daedric and the Dark Brotherhood ones – it doesn’t bog you down too much with worrying about what you’ll miss and it keeps you interested and plugging away for hundreds of hours without a care in the world. What else can you ask from an achievement list? Bethesda then take home the gold this year. Kudos!
Best DLC for Achievements
The ‘Best DLC for Achievements’ category this year was a closely contested two horse race. On the one horse, Gears of War 3’s ‘RAAM’s Shadow’ DLC; and the other, Battlefield 3’s ‘Back to Karkand’ DLC; both solid lists in their own right, but offering something a little different from one another.
RAAM’s Shadow demonstrated Epic’s usually solid balance, nudging players into avenues of the game that they should try out to get the best out of it, whilst placing emphasis on some of the more fun elements – like killing folk with RAAM’s Kryll. Karkand on the other hand, tried to instil a bit of creativity into a shooter, something that very few developers actually try and do these days. That, pretty much, was essentially the reason we decided to crown ‘Back to Karkand’ as having the best achievements. Getting a kill with a skid loader, swimming in the Hotel Oman’s pool and getting a kill with a jet, a tank and an assault rifle in one life. These are more like the achievements we want to start seeing in shooters from here on out. Not easy, but fun and supremely satisfying when you pull them off.
Winner: Battlefield 3 – ‘Back to Karkand’
Most Original Achievement
I, personally, absolutely adore this category – I’m a sucker for creativity – and this year, as always, didn’t disappoint. It probably was the hardest one we’ve had to adjudicate in this category for years too and based on the nominations, we started to wonder what type of readers we attract though – bear with us for a minute.
The nominations – and subsequently, part of the final shortlist – included stealing faeces (Duke Nukem Forever’s ‘Turd Burglar), throwing farts and beating people to death with a huge purple dildo (Saints Row: The Third’s ‘Stay Classy Steelport’) and getting caught masturbating (Metal Gear Solid HD Collection’s ‘Snake Beater’). All amusing and creative achievements in their own right, but the two that struck a chord with us were: Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s ‘Lucky Guess’ (for guessing Jacob’s code on his bomb) and Portal 2’s ‘Pit Boss’ (for listening to Wheatley and dying a gruesome death because of it). It was close, but for us… actually having the nous and creativity to code in Portal 2’s ‘Pit Boss’ achievement scenario into the game showed something the others did not: utter genius. Complete Valve gold. It’s an achievement you can’t believe until you do it/see it yourself and a scenario with extra Stephen Merchant lines and even more humour. If you’ve not seen it and don’t mind the odd spoiler, check it out. It’s brilliant.
Winner: Portal 2 – ‘Pit Boss’
Best Achievement List
This is it! The biggie! The one that every wants to win… and if they say they don’t, then they’re either lying or they don’t care about what has become a core part of video game development. Welcome to the ‘Best Achievement List’ of 2011. For those new to the awards, it works a bit differently to the others. Here we take a shortlist of three, argue the pluses and minuses of each list and then choose a winner. Simple! Without further ado then, drumroll please…
343 Industries hit the road running when it came to achievements, thanks to their effort in the HD remake of the classic Halo: Combat Evolved. It quite fiercely sent a message across the globe in terms of achievements screaming: “Hey assholes, this is how you make an achievement list for a game that everyone’s already played!” We’re fairly sure they didn’t intend that – we like to put words in their mouths – but they did want to send a message to Halo fans: we know the franchise and we know what you want. The achievements had great balance, included some unique and challenging mission-specific objectives, and also gave Halo players, new and old, a challenge and a reason to jump back in and sample some HD nostalgia.
What’s that? Another achievement list, another ‘Best Achievement List’ nomination for Valve? Yes, these guys really know how to capture the hearts and minds of us gamers. Portal 2’s another Valve achievement list that shows an incredible amount of depth and creativity. There’s not only a great balance as well with progression achievements and challenging achievements aplenty, but there’s a good spread too, encouraging players to venture into the co-op world, as well as the single-player world. The thing that wins Valve ultimate kudos and points though is their ability to take the humour from their script and dialogue across into their achievements too. Achievements like ‘Pit Boss,’ ‘You Made Your Point,’ ‘Empty Gesture'... heck, there are so many great achievements here we could literally sit and name them all day. In short: it’s a superb list.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
If there’s one thing about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’s achievement list that really resonates with us, it’s that it doesn’t bog you down, hold you back or look to steer you down a path you don’t want to take. In fact, it’s a free-flowing achievement list that allows you to play the game without fear of missing something along the way. It’s an achievement list that allows Skyrim to grow as a game without being held back or having you keep one eye on the achievement list. Even better is its balance, because while you’re doing that, Bethesda dropped crumbs along the way to keep you going. It’s not a particularly exciting or creative list, which probably holds it back from greatness somewhat, but it does exactly what it says on the tin. You know, the tin that says “It rewards players for just playing the game at all the right junctures”. They really need a better tin.
Ladies and gents, the winner of the sixth X360A Achievement Awards, taking home the ultimate prize for ‘Best Achievement List’ is none other than Valve and their efforts in Portal 2. A superb effort once again from the Seattle-based studio, proving that they know achievements better than anyone else. What makes me say that? Simple, out of the five years we’ve been running this category, they’ve won this award an impressive four times (The Orange Box, Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2 and now Portal 2) and the only reason they probably didn’t win five was because there was no Valve game last year. Crazy perhaps, but totally deserved. It’d be nice if they capped off their fifth win with Half Life 3, right? We can only dream!
Winner: Portal 2
Game with Most Potential for Achievements in 2012
In typical end of the show fashion, we end our awards with a look forward to this year and the game that we think shows the best potential in terms of achievements.
First things first, we’re not confident enough we’ll see Grand Theft Auto V in 2012, so that’s out already. The three popular selections amongst fans though were BioShock Infinite, South Park: The Game and Hitman: Absolution – any of which could have realistically won. For us though, we’re struggling to see how BioShock Infinite can truly embrace creativity with a story-based and thus, linear shooter, so for us it was a toss up between South Park: The Game and Hitman: Absolution. South Park because Matt and Trey are penning the game from a script standpoint, so we’re hoping their crazy creativity and boldness translates into the achievements; and Hitman: Absolution because with a game where pretty much everything is a weapon and silent, contract kills should be the name of the game, the possibilities are endless. If only because of the fact that IO Interactive delivered a great list in 2006 when the system was young, now they’ve had a lot of time to study what works best, we truly think Hitman: Absolution has the potential to be an inspiring list. Fingers crossed that the bald assassin can come up smelling of roses.
Winner: Hitman: Absolution
And that’s it for another year. We hope you enjoyed the ride in this year’s awards. Of course, sound off in the comments, and if you’re unhappy that some games didn’t get nominated in the first place, ask yourselves this first: “Did I nominate it?”
Thanks for your support over the last six years, we’ve certainly come a long way from small community, to community site, to the huge behemoth that stands before us today. We’ve not even started to get going yet either! Here’s to the next six years and thanks to your support thus far. We look forward to having you along for the ride as we continue to grow. Happy birthday us!