X360A's Achievement Awards 2012 - The Best, Worst, Hardest & Easiest Achievements of the Year
Written Friday, February 08, 2013 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Seven years ago today, a small community site spawned in this corner of the internet, bringing together gamers of all backgrounds, all of whom had an affinity towards Microsoft’s innovative achievement system. Six years ago today, the small community site published its first “Achievement Awards,” celebrating (and belittling) the best and the worst achievements of the year.
Here we are six years on from the first annual Achievement Awards and today is a whole different ball game. Now, as the biggest Xbox 360 site on the internet, reaching 2.5 million different gamers a month, we publish our 7th annual Achievement Awards and celebrate our 7th year on the internet. A gargantuan milestone if you ask us, and we can think of no finer way to ring in our 7th birthday with a seven year tradition. We're talking about this here ceremony of awesomeness.
In case you’re new to the site – welcome, by the way! – the premise is simple: for the next 6,000 words (or so), we’re going to breakdown 2012’s best, worst, easiest and hardest achievements. After taking nominations from the community, before thrashing them out amongst the staff, it’s come to that time where we finally announce the winners (and the losers) of the biggest awards ceremony in the achievement world. Grab a stiff drink and hold on to your hats, folks, it’s going to be a long, but oh so worthwhile, ride. Yeehaw! Wait, did I just say that!? Apparently so!
Easiest Individual Achievement
There’s a feeling in the X360A camp that we truly ought to rename this award as either “The Ridiculous Achievement Award” or “The Most Pointless Achievement Award”… either would be fitting, in truth. In the seven years we’ve seen some achievements get easier, to the point where any one of 20 could have won it this year. Whether you’re talking about the Hip Hop Dance Experience’s “Welcome!” achievement for starting the game, Men In Black’s “Enjoy the Ride” achievement for… also, starting the game, or Mass Effect 3’s Enlisted achievement, for starting an MP game, they’re all guilty of this shameful act of wasting achievements.
That said, this year we decided to award it to a game whose achievement is slightly 'harder' than those mentioned above – i.e. it takes a button or two more presses to unlock – but is still just as easy. That game is Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition and the achievement is “Taking Inventory.” Why would we do this, you ask? Simple. Because we expected more from Mojang and with a game that’s all about creativity and expressing your inner artist, this does neither. Congrats, Mojang… I guess.
Winner: Minecraft - 'Taking Inventory'
Easiest Action 1,000
Last year’s closely fought battle for the “Easiest Action 1,000” award had a common theme: the three finalists were cheap-tacky movie tie-ins involving heroes of the super variety. This year was slightly different, and had we gone by the sheer number of nominations for each title, Square Enix’s Sleeping Dogs would have been a shoo-in for the award. We didn’t though, and for good reason.
The fact that Sleeping Dogs was predominantly nominated was because of this: it was a popular game that a lot of people played and enjoyed. The truth is though, it’s a 10-15 hour game. That’s easy though, right? Yes, but if you factor in Men in Black: Alien Crisis and put that up against it – it takes around 8 hours to complete – then Sleeping Dogs was never going to win. Sure, those 8 hours playing Men in Black might have felt like 100 hours, but they weren’t technically 100 hours. On that logic, and pipping the other to the post by a nose length, Men in Black: Alien Crisis takes home the gold this year… or at least, the coffee stained aluminium.
Winner: Men in Black: Alien Crisis
Easiest Racing 1,000
For as many years as I’ve been writing these here awards, I always thought that two things would never happen: one, that Ninja Gaiden (or any Japanese game, for that matter) would be mentioned in the “Easiest Overall 1,000” category – that’s still true today; and secondly, that any Forza title would be sniffing around the “Easiest Racing 1,000” category. Turns out that latter one has now finally come true. Even more so, it’s not only sniffing around, but a Forza title has won the “Easiest Racing 1,000” category.
Okay, so it’s not your traditional Forza title, you know, the simulation racer from Turn 10. This year’s winner is Forza Horizon, Playground Games’ spin-off, arcade-style racer instead, but hey, we’re still counting it. It had a close opponent in WRC 3 in this year’s awards, which is worth an honourable mention, but when you can get all 1,000 points in about 30 hours, and rather easily too, it comes as no surprise that Forza Horizon is this year’s winner. It probably took us that long to tune our car in Forza 4!
Winner: Forza Horizon
Easiest RPG 1,000
Firstly, we’re going to go right out and say this: we don’t consider Borderlands 2 an RPG; in our eyes, it’s a shooter first and foremost with RPG elements. We gave Borderlands 1 the benefit of the doubt and it eventually won this award in 2009, but that was a scant year in terms of RPGs. This year, however, was not. That leaves the “Easiest RPG 1,000” category as a four horse race between Mass Effect 3, Risen 2, Kingdoms of Amalur and Game of Thrones.
The truth is, it could have gone either way, well, if Game of Thrones didn’t exist. Mass Effect 3, Risen 2 and Kingdoms of Amalur are roughly the same in terms of difficulty, and they could arguably take about the same amount of hours to complete too – circa the 50 hours mark if you’re efficient with your time. But none of those titles could hold a candle to this year’s “Easiest RPG 1,000,” Game of Thrones, a title that took about 20-25 hours to complete. It’s a shame it isn’t as compelling as HBO’s gripping drama, which is obviously the audience that Cyanide and Atlus were going for.
Winner: Game of Thrones
Easiest Shooter 1,000
So, because Borderlands 2 fails to qualify for the “Easiest RPG 1,000,” surely it’s odds on to take home the “Easiest Shooter 1,000” awards. Well, no, not exactly, the Battleship movie tie-in called and it wants this year’s award. It takes it, quite easily in fact.
Far Cry 3 actually received more nominations than the other games combined, but the fact that Far Cry 3 was a gem, and Battleship was shovelware, that kind of makes sense that it was overlooked. Quite how you turn a classic tabletop game into a multi-million dollar action film, which then translates into a shooter, we’ll never know, but Activision did it somehow. It’s a really easy 1,000Gs as well, taking a measly 8 hours to complete. That said, you’d probably be better off sticking 30 hours into Far Cry 3 and getting 1,000Gs there, or even putting 50 hours into Borderlands 2 and nabbing all of its Gamerscore. They’re most definitely going to be more rewarding.
Easiest Sporting 1,000
Here’s an interesting stat for you: aside from the inaugural Achievement Awards back in 2007, every achievement list that has won the “Easiest Sporting 1,000” has been an American Football title. That’s three wins for Madden and two wins for Backyard Sports’ American Football titles. Another interesting stat is that there’s only been one winner in this category that’s taken considerably more than 5 hours to complete (Madden 12, last year).
It should come as no surprise then that this year’s winner is a Kinect Self Defense title… wait, what? Really? Turns out, yes, that really is the case. Sorry American Football, this is someone else’s award this year. Funnily enough though, Self Defense: Training Camp (known as My Self Defense Coach in PAL regions) is another 5 hour game. 5 hours, 1,000Gs and you learn self defence!? Surely that’s a win-win, right there? Maybe now I’ll be able to get past that squirrel at the bus stop without him taking my lunch money!
Winner: Self Defense: Training Camp
Easiest Arcade 200/400
Sonic the Hedgehog might be one of the fastest – if not, the fastest – video game character on two legs, but not even he’s faster than the time it takes to unlock all of Sonic the Fighters’ 400 achievement points. That makes no sense, right? You know, comparing speed to time. Well, putting Sonic and friends in a fighting game makes no sense either, so we’re playing by SEGA’s rules here!
One of Sonic’s most bizarre tie-in games (and this dude’s played tennis too!) is a fighting game, Sonic the Fighters, a game that takes less than an hour to unlock all 400 Gamerscore. And by less than an hour, we’re talking about 10 minutes. That’s twice as quick as 2012’s other premature unlockulation arcade games, Virtua Fighter 2 and Fighting Vipers – both SEGA titles, incidentally. Here’s another fun fact for you: Sonic the Fighters is that quick and easy, that it’s completion percentage on our leaderboards rivals that of the infamous Avatar. Sonic the Fighter’s 99.45% versus Avatar: The Burning Earth’s 99.53%. Interesting stuff!
Winner: Sonic the Fighters
Easiest Overall 1,000
For the third year running, the winner of the overall category is a title that didn’t fit into the criteria of the other “Easiest” categories. That, right there, is a stark contrast to the first four years of these here awards, where titles from the other categories took home their second award with this “Overall” category.
That means that Battleship’s 8 hours was too much, as was Men in Black: Alien Crisis’ 8, and of course Self Defense: Training Camp’s paltry 5 hours. This year’s winner was a title that you could do in probably half that time if you were motivated enough. That’s right, this year’s winner, a family title, is one that takes a measly 3 hours to complete, and it is none other than Toy Story Mania! That’s 3 hours without a guide as well. So if you like easy cheevos and are a bit of a Toy Story fan, then look no further than Toy Story Mania!, 2012’s easiest 1,000 Gamerscore.
Winner: Toy Story Mania!
Hardest Individual Achievement
I don’t think there was any doubt this year what the hardest individual achievement was. When people said New York Minute, players shuddered. When people said New York Minute Hardcore, players would faint. Yes, we’re talking about Max Payne’s 3 ‘The Shadows Rushed Me’ achievement, for completing the game on New York Minute Hardcore.
Doesn’t sound too gruelling, right? Well, how about completing Max Payne 3, on hardcore, up against the clock, and you can’t die. Not even once. If you do, you start from the beginning of the chapter 1. Yes, chapter 1 is the beginning of the game. So if you get all the way to the end and die, you have to restart from the beginning of the game. Brutal, unforgiving, and one hell of an achievement to have on your card. Big kudos to all the players that netted this one. It’s one hell of a feat!
Winner: Max Payne 3 - 'The Shadows Rushed Me'
Most Time Consuming Achievement
It’s time to transition from the superhuman hard achievement of 2012, to the patience of a saint achievement. An achievement that requires a lot of time, not an incredible amount of skill, but oodles of patience and dedication.
I’d love to sit here and say “It was tense,” “It was close,” and “It came down to the wire” with this category, but that’d be a load of Hong Kong Phooey. In fact, even when we played devil’s advocate, we couldn’t think of an achievement that came close to Inversion’s “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now” achievement.
It’s an achievement that requires you to complete 133 multiplayer challenges, all of which are spread across the eight game modes. What doesn’t help is the game’s tiny community and the fact that the odd game mode requires four or so people to start, meaning getting into one game is going to be a pain as it is. Even if you boost this badboy, it could take in excess of 200 hours to get. And if you don’t… well, good luck, you might get it done before Microsoft finally creates the in-home Holodeck that we’ve all been craving.
Winner: Inversion - 'Feats Don't Fail Me Now'
Hardest Action 1,000
If there’s one thing we’ve learned during the seven years of doing this, it’s that when it comes to hack ‘n’ slash titles created in Japan, the devs like to make things hard for gamers, especially for achievement chasing aficionados. In fact, out of the seven years we’ve been doing this, six of those years a Japanese developed game has won this award. This year though, it comes down to a battle between two of the big dogs: Ninja Gaiden and Devil May Cry.
Ninja Gaiden 3 might not have been as strong a game as Ninja Gaiden II, but it was just as hard, while Capcom’s Devil May Cry HD Collection had three games of brutality under one roof. In terms of actual difficulty, there’s not that much between them – they both require a supreme amount of skill and dedication to get the full 1,000 – but the fact that the Devil May Cry HD Collection takes about 250 hours, while Ninja Gaiden 3 can be completed under 100 hours, well, we had no choice but to give it to the Devil May Cry HD Collection. Congrats, Japan. You win again.
Winner: Devil May Cry HD Collection
Hardest Racing 1,000
For the last three years, the “Hardest Racing 1,000” category has largely been dominated by simulation racers. Last year it was Forza Motorsport 4, before that F1 2011, and before that Forza 3. It makes sense, given the more serious subject matter.
This year though seems to have thrown the book out the window, as even Codemasters’ F1 2012 couldn’t put up a fight with the two vying for the finish line. Step up Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed – which is a godawful name, by the way, and actually makes little grammatical sense when you say it in a sentence... Sorry, I digress, this year’s winner, surprisingly, is the Sonic racing game. A game that according to fans has had the difficulty ramped up considerably, not only is it going to take you 30 hours or so, but the Traffic Challenges on Expert will have you puling your hair out. It’s a title that takes time, persistence, skill, dedication, and worst of all, luck, thus making it our “Hardest Racing 1,000” of 2012.
Winner: Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
Hardest RPG 1,000
We’re not sure what was in the water in 2012, but in terms of RPGs, it was a fairly easy year. When you look at past winners of this award, the likes of Final Fantasy XI, Star Ocean, Record of Agarest War, Dark Souls, and so on, they all stand out as truly difficult and time consuming RPGs. This year, it was quite the opposite in fact, a lot of the titles vying for the “Hardest RPG 1,000” accolade were all fairly simple, in fact, a few of them were also nominated for the “Easiest RPG 1,000” as well. Bizarre!
Mass Effect 3 was floated around, but at 60 hours and nothing too challenging, it’s hardly a contender. Same with Kingdoms of Amalur and Risen 2. Instead, the award goes to The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. It’s not an overly time consuming 1,000Gs, in terms of the usual winner in this field – it takes probably 40-50 hours to grab the full allocation of points – but playing it on the hardest difficulty can actually be rather tricky. It’s unforgiving at times, let’s just say that, and while it might not chew up the amount of hours that previous winners have done, it’s no less worthy of its place at the top of the podium. Plus, it’s a great game too, one worthy of the full 1,000Gs on anyone’s gamercard.
Winner: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
Hardest Shooter 1,000
The “Hardest Shooter 1,000” category of 2012 was a closely fought battle between three very different titles. The Western release of Akai Katana, thanks to its ‘Sharpened Blade’ achievement, nearly did enough to squeeze into first place, as did Inversion with its supremely time consuming achievement, ‘Feats Don’t Fail Me Now,’ but in the end, neither could contest the difficulty that Max Payne 3 and its ‘The Shadows Rushed Me’ achievement.
It’s not just that one achievement that’s going to cause you pain in Max Payne 3, in fact, there’s a lot more to its list than that. For one, you’re going to be completing the campaign five times, each playthrough getting progressively harder, have to complete all of the single-player “grinds” – they’re called grinds for a reason – as well as get to level 50 online. Basically, you’re looking at about 150 hours and a supreme amount of dedication and skill to get the full 1,000Gs here.
Winner: Max Payne 3
Hardest Sporting 1,000
Considering that EA’s Madden franchise has picked up three “Easiest Sporting 1,000” awards in the last seven years, it might come as a bit of a shock to you that this year, the title picks up the “Hardest Sporting 1,000.” That’s one hell of a U-turn if you ask us!
Madden NFL is traditionally associated with easy achievements, with a vast majority of their lists taking less than 10 hours to unlock. The fact that Madden NFL 13’s list takes a minimum of 100 hours, makes you wonder what the guys and gals at EA Tiburon have been smoking. With Madden NFL 13 taking home the “Hardest Sporting 1,000” of 2012, that now means that EA Sports has taken home this award in the last four years, an impressive feat for a company that churns out annual sports titles more often than Activision churns out shameless cash-ins.
Winner: Madden NFL 13
Hardest Arcade 200/400
RedLynx, to my knowledge, is the only developer in the last seven years that has had every game it released (we’re talking more than one here, by the way) win the overall “Hardest” category – okay, so it’s probably not the same as the winning the “Hardest Overall” category with a record like that, but there are some tricky Xbox Live Arcade games out there.
Back in 2009, RedLynx’s debut XBLA title, Trials HD, snapped up the “Hardest Arcade” award, and here we are again, three years later, and it’s taking home the “Hardest Arcade” award once again. Considering the amount of shmups out there and classic HD remakes that are also uber taxing a la Jet Set Radio HD, nothing could still hold a candle to one of gaming’s most deceptively simple, addictive and frustrating gaming mechanics. Congrats once again RedLynx. Trials Evolution is hard. Very, very, very hard, yet brilliant.
Winner: Trials Evolution
Hardest Overall 1,000
It’s no surprise who this year’s “Hardest Overall 1,000” battle is between. In fact, it’ll be a little case of déjà vu. Yes, that’s right, it’s a face-off that mirrors that of the “Hardest Action 1,000” category: Devil May Cry HD Collection versus Ninja Gaiden 3 again… and we all know who won that! No change here then!
The two titles went through largely unchallenged, with only really Dead or Alive 5 offering any sort of resistance. The 60+ hour title that required a fair amount of skill, had it won, would have only been the second title in seven years that didn’t qualify for any of the other “Hardest” genre categories yet still managed to be the hardest overall 1,000 – the first being Guitar Hero III back in 2007. Alas, it didn’t win though, and the Devil May Cry HD Collection takes home the gold, making it three consecutive wins for Japanese developers in this category.
Winner: Devil May Cry HD Collection
Game With Most Glitched Achievements
I have a dream. A dream in which developers extensively test their products so much so that we can get rid of this category. That day is not today, in fact, it’s probably more prevalent this year than it was last year, which kind of sucks.
In the nomination stages, there was a bit of a mass exodus towards Bug Village on the Windows Phone 7, as well as honourable (or, not so honourable) mentions for Skyrim’s Hearthfire DLC – which glitched on me, the bugger! – and Dishonored. In the end though, rather than give it to Bug Village, we thought we’d give it to Assassin’s Creed III, a triple-A game with 500 people working on it, and one that had buggy achievements for the first few months of its lifetime, most notably, the 'Encyclopaedia of the Common Man' achievement. We’re not excusing Bug Village’s glitches and “bugs” – ha! – but we expect more from a triple-A title. A lot more.
Winner: Assassin's Creed III
Worst Achievement Picture
There’s nothing like unlocking an achievement, only to see that instead of a beautiful piece of art meeting your eye and rewarding you, you get a turd instead. Yes, welcome to the “Worst Achievement Picture” time, where we name and shame the worst of the worst. It’s a category this year dominated by EA, with people taking offence at the publisher’s selling out when it comes to achievement tiles (Verizon in Madden NFL 13 and Honda in NHL 13) and them using the EA Sports logo, rather randomly and lazily. Making up the rest of the top 5 is Call of Duty: Black Ops II’s frankly illegible and uninspiring tiles, particularly the one for ‘Dead or Alive,’ as well as Wordament’s ‘Theme word’ achievement, probably for their lack of creativity, and their use of white on grey for the unlocked version of the tile. What’s up with that!?
The winner though, as decided by you folks, is Madden NFL 13’s ‘You’re in the Game’ achievement, for rather cheaply using the EA Sports logo. The achievement is for downloading a game face in ‘Create-A-Player’ or ‘Connected Careers’. Quite what an EA Sports logo has to do with a face though, we’ll never know. The people have spoken!
Winner: Madden 13 - 'You're in the Game'
Worst Company for Achievements
Ahhh, the worst publisher “award,” the award where we all berate one publisher for their collection of terrible achievement lists. Sure, they may have the odd gem in there, but as a whole, disappointing.
Breaking the chance for Capcom to grab the hat trick, EA picks up the “award” this year. Believe it or not, EA hasn’t won this award for quite sometime, last bagging a brace of wins back in 2006 and 2007. Unfortunately for the publisher, 2012 saw a string of lazy achievement lists; achievement lists based on sheer luck; an awkward shift in difficulty for some of their yearly titles in terms of achievements; and way too much soul-selling by slapping brands all over their achievement tiles. And that’s mostly just the sports titles! Mass Effect 3 wasn’t really that inspirational or ground-breaking considering it’s a triple-A title, their hugely multiplayer-centric list for Medal of Honor was a hang up for fans and Most Wanted’s grindfest was rather off-putting too. Not a great year for EA in terms of achievements, and I’m not sure they can have any complaints about taking home this slice of cheese this year.
Winner: Electronic Arts (EA)
Worst Achievement List
Like the “Most Glitched Achievements” category, we decided to take a similar tact here. One of the most unpopular lists of 2012 was that of Microsoft’s Wordament, a horrible list that was too leaderboard-centric, and brutally unfair and unreasonable. That said, in terms of expectations, we don’t carry that much for a Windows Phone 7 game, one done on a fraction of the budget of a retail game and with a tiny fraction of the manpower as well. For a franchise like FIFA though - one that sells a good 10+ million units every year - the least EA could have done was put a little effort into its achievements. Apparently not.
Not only has FIFA 13’s list been largely similar for the last five years, but there’s one thing that gamers hate when it comes to achievements, and that’s luck-based ones. You know, taking achievements out of the hands of gamers and their skill, and tying them in to something that gamers have absolutely no control over. That’s not what achievements are about; achievements should be about skill and dedication, not about luck. Yes, FIFA 13, we’re talking to you and your almost diabolical luck-based achievements.
Winner: FIFA 13
Best Achievement Picture
Finally! After being negative for the last four awards, it’s time to get our positive on, starting with one of the most popular categories of the entire awards, the “Best Achievement Picture” award. Usually, there’s a lot of great tiles, and this year was no different.
The tiles in the top 5 shortlist ranged from the rather naughty, ‘I Swear! I Did It By Mistake’ rewarded for peeping under Juliet’s skirt in Lollipop Chainsaw and a touching photo of Lee and Clementine from Episode 5 of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, to a picture of a squirrel with rabies from Trials Evolution’s Origin of Pain DLC and a silhouette of Borderlands 2’s quirky mechanic, Ellie. None of those could hold a candle to LEGO Lord of the Rings’ “One Does Not Simply…” achievement however. It’s a LEGO version of Sean Bean… from LEGO Lord of the Rings… doing that hand thing that he does when he says that thing in the film… the one that turned into a pretty popular internet meme… it’s… it’s… simply marvellous. A much deserved winner, bravo TT Games, bravo!
Winner: LEGO: Lord of the Rings - 'One Does Not Simply'
Best Publisher for Achievements
From the worst publisher in 2008, to the best publisher in 2009, Ubisoft has been off the radar for quite some time in these here Achievement Awards when it comes to publishers. The good news is, they’ve also steered clear of the “Worst Publisher” award, so that’s something. This year sees them propelled to the top of the tree once again, fighting off stiff competition from Square Enix.
Square Enix’s simple but fair achievement lists for Hitman: Absolution and Sleeping Dogs were ultimately let down by Final Fantasy XIII-2’s grindfest. Ubisoft on the other hand, brought solid lists to Assassin’s Creed III and Far Cry 3, with great balance, fair achievements, and a little bit of creativity sprinkled throughout. Then they did a fairly decent job with Just Dance 4 and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier as well, so as a package, they didn’t really put a foot wrong. Pipped Square Enix at the post, but a more than worthy winner.
Best DLC for Achievements
The race for the “Best DLC for Achievements” award this year was a bit of a one horse race… which is ironic, cause you can race horses in this game, kind of. Okay, so that was a hugely tenuous link, I know, but come on, I’ve done 20 of these already in this feature alone! Cut a man some slack!
I’m going to go right out and say this though, as far as I’m concerned, not only is this year’s winner of the “Best DLC” achievement list the best of 2012, it’s probably the best list we’ve ever seen in a piece of DLC. Yes, ever. Why? Simple, because Skyrim’s Dragonborn DLC’s achievements do exactly what we want in a list, and that’s making the content feel like a self-contained game with as much effort put into it as the main retail game. The Dragonborn achievement list had everything that makes a retail list so popular and so successful: creativity, a good spread and balance, it encouraged players to explore and go out of their way to do stuff they might not have done, and more importantly, it was fun. To us, Bethesda treated the achievements like it treated the DLC itself, and that was that it be a smaller bitesize version of the game that found its way into fan’s hearts back in 2011. They succeeded and are more than worthy of this year’s award.
Winner: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim's Dragonborn DLC
Most Original Achievement
This year’s “Most Original Achievement” discussions took a different slant behind the scenes. This is a category where we’ve generally rewarded developers for such achievements as ‘Little Rocket Man,’ for sending a gnome into space in Half-Life 2: Episode 2; ‘Horse Puncher,’ for punching a horse in the face in Darkest of Days; and so on. You know, truly original in-game acts.
Winners of this award are usually the pinnacle of creativity and originality. This year though, we decided to go for something different. Something where the task isn’t necessarily original, but the way in which it's been used is undoubtedly original.
We’re talking about none other than Borderlands 2’s ‘Tribute to a Vault Hunter’ achievement. In terms of getting the achievement, all you have to do is randomly meet an NPC in Sanctuary and accept a weapon. The story behind the achievement, its name and the character though, that’s the original aspect. You might think that Michael Mamaril is actually just some generic name that Gearbox decided to use in Borderlands 2. It is in fact the name of a Borderlands fan that died after the release of the first game at the tragic age of 22. When his friend wrote to Gearbox asking them to do a eulogy for his friend’s funeral, in the voice of Claptrap, they not only obliged, but went one step further. They added Michael as a character in Borderlands 2 so he could live on forever in digital form, and they even paid homage to him in the achievement name. It’s a beautiful story, and one more than worthy of our award this year. Kudos, Gearbox. Eternal kudos!
Winner: Borderlands 2 - 'Tribute to a Vault Hunter'
Best Achievement List
Here we are, once again. The pinnacle of the Achievement Awards, the most sought after award in the achievement world. It is of course the “Best Achievement List” of 2012. It’s an award that’s only been won by triple-A studios to-date, in fact, only two of the world’s biggest studios have been able to wow us enough to get their name in the record books. Here it is then, 3 finalists, 1 winner... who’s taking home the gold? We decide!
Borderlands 2 - With Borderlands 2’s achievement list, Gearbox seems to have ticked most, if not all of the boxes. Interesting breadcrumb achievements. Check. Amusing, more creative achievements. Check. More challenging long-term achievements for the hardcore. Check. Exploration achievements. Check. Fancy tiles and amusing names. Check. An homage to a Borderlands fan who tragically died at 22 all neatly presented in the form of a heart-warming achievement. Check. An achievement where you kill “Donkey Mong.” Check. An achievement for killing a chubby. Check… incidentally, my ex-girlfriend was good at that. Sorry, I digress. But yeah, you get the point: a fantastically rounded and balanced list.
Halo 4 - 343 Industries have seemingly picked up where Bungie left off. Yes, we know they did Halo CE: Anniversary and came close last year in this category, but this is different. This is their game and their list. It’s a list littered with creativity, a nice dollop of multiplayer achievements that aren’t too demanding, some neat single-player secondary objective achievements and some supremely challenging achievements in there for the sadistic. It’s a very impressive list.
Assassin's Creed III - Despite churning out an Assassin’s Creed title for the last handful of years, Ubisoft's passion for in-game achievements doesn’t appear to have waned. It's learnt that too many multiplayer achievements are against the spirit of what makes an Assassin’s Creed game an Assassin’s Creed game (the single-player) and this more single-player-centric list has a great balance, a solid spread and plenty of creative achievements like ‘Eye Witness’ and ‘Spit Roast.’ It’s an all round great, well thought-out list.
Without further ado, we’re proud to announce that this year’s winner is none other than 2K’s Borderlands 2. Gearbox joins a prestigious cast of developers who’ve won this award that include Valve (4 wins in the 6 years we’ve been running this category) and Bungie (1 win). A huge congrats goes out to the Texas-based studio that not only completely touched our hearts with a homage to a Borderlands fan in the list, but they created a list with humour, a good spread, beautiful tiles, amusing names and one that screamed effort. Exactly what we asked for.
Winner: Borderlands 2
Game with Most Potential for Achievements in 2013
Despite Grand Theft Auto V being the big winner in last year’s nomination phase in this category, getting a considerable amount of votes more than anyone else, when push came to shove we refused to put the game in the awards, mainly because we didn’t think it’d be out in 2012. We were right!
What it does mean, is that when it came to this year, there was an even bigger landslide and there was only ever going to be one winner. GTA V received another huge slice of the votes in 2012 (getting about 40% of the votes), beating off stiff opposition from BioShock Infinite (16%), GRID 2 (14%) and South Park: The Stick of Truth (10%). As much as we tried to fudge the votes so that GRID 2 would win – we kid, we kid… or do we!? – there was only ever going to be one winner here: Grand Theft Auto V.
Out in September, and being described as Rockstar’s biggest open-world ever, with golf, tennis, airplanes galore, crazy cinematic chases, three main characters, quad bikes, mountains - the list goes on - it’s safe to say that the possibilities are pretty much endless. Something we – and you – are hoping comes through in the game’s achievement list.
Winner: GTA V
Aaaaaannnnddd, that’s a wrap! Another year done and dusted. Thanks for sticking with us, folks. Not just for this year’s awards, but for the last seven years. This could be the last time we see the awards in their present format, what with the next-generation looming and all. Next year could ultimately see a brand new format… or it could stay the same, who the hell knows!? On that note, I shall bid you folks a good day, it’s time to check myself into a clinic now after the gin addiction I’ve somehow picked up writing the War and Peace of the achievement world. Thanks again for your support, folks, here’s to another seven years!
Same time next year then, yeah? Sounds good.