If you were to ask 10 different gamers what their opinions of XBOX360 achievements and PS3 trophies are, you would likely to get 10 completely different answers. There are people who absolutely hate achievements and think they are completely pointless dribble that add nothing to a game. There are people who absolutely love them and who go out of their way to play a game as many times through as it takes to get them all. Then there are those who just donít really care who donít even know what their gamerscore and/or trophy count is. Finally, there are the people who are completely obsessed, who actually rent games they would typically never play, just because it has really easy to obtain achievements. Yes, itís definitely safe to say that there are lots of different opinions out there about achievements in games.
For the most part, achievements all fall into one of three categories. There are the typical achievements you will always get on your first play through of the game, because they are impossible to avoid. There are the achievements you get for beating games on harder difficulty levels. Then there are the achievements you get because you did a specific act x number of times. Yes, I think itís safe to say that 99% of achievements fall into these three categories.
Every once in a while though an achievement comes along that requires you to completely change the way you play a game; an achievement that shakes the foundation of a game to its very core. Now Iím not talking about achievements that are hard to get just for the sake of being hard. Iím talking about achievements that really make you step back and change the way you approach the entire game. These are the really special achievements in my opinion, because they truly challenge the gamer in ways never before imagined. These are the types of achievements I want to talk about today. I have therefore come up with a list of some of the best examples I can think of, of achievements that change the way you play a game. If you can think of anymore please let me know.
Mirrorís Edge is at its best when you are running as fast as you can, vaulting under or over obstacles, and jumping from roof to roof. Since the entire game canít simply be running from one point to another, the developer inserted sporadic battles into each level, where you have to fight off a number of guards before you can advance. Now while the developers give the players the ability to use hand to hand combat to fight these battles, itís much easier to simply disarm a guard and then use his weapon to take out the other guards. In a lot of cases, especially those when itís you against 5-10 guards, it can be next to impossible if you donít use a weapon.
Using a weapon in Mirrorís Edge always feels a bit out of place, especially since the mantra of the main character, Faith, is to use her speed and the environment to get her out of tight spots. Using a weapon just never felt like the solution she would choose to get out of a tough situation. Thatís why the Test of Faith
achievement is so great. Without the use of a weapon, it forces you to really think about situations the way Faith would. If you are presented with 5 enemies, all with guns, how would you take them down with just using hand to hand combat? The great thing is, that this really isnít an impossible achievement. Itís actually very attainable, if you just take the time to think through ever situation. This is definitely my favorite achievement on my list today.
Prince of Persia
Prince of Persia is probably the safest you will ever feel playing an action game, because there is absolutely no way to die. Every time you come close to dying, Elika comes to your rescue and saves you. If you miss a jump and start falling to your eventual demise, Elika grabs you and pulls you up to safety. If a boss pins you to the ground and is about to thrust his swords through your abdomen, Elika does some type of last second ďforce pushĒ maneuver that knocks the boss away and saves you. If you fall into the corruption, and it begins to devour you whole, Elika someone how manages to pull you out.
I mean Elika is simply the most incredible woman I have ever seen. Most women I know would eventually get so sick of their man constantly making mistakes that threaten his life that she would just let it happen. Not Elika though. She is always there to save the Prince from sudden doom and destruction. Because of this, the player never feels like they have to be careful when they play the game. They never have to think about the decisions they are making because if they make a bad one, Elika will always be there to save them. Well the ďBe Gentle with HerĒ achievement changes all of that. Since Elika can only save the player a maximum of 100 times to get this achievement, the player has to be a lot more cautious and actually think about what they are doing. It really changes the way the game is played, and hence I have added it to my list. Take a break Elika, youíve earned it.
Bioshock suffers from the same mistake Prince of Persia made. Thanks to the wonderful Rapture invention that is the Vita-Chamber, your character never has to worry about the consequences of dying. When you do die, you are immediately revived in the nearest vita-chamber, without any time passing since you died, and nothing has changed whatsoever. You donít lose ammo, you donít lose health, and boss battles donít reset. The game simply starts back up exactly where it was at before you died.
Without death having any consequences, you never have to worry if a Big Daddy is bearing down directly on you. You can simply pump him full of bullets until he kills you, and then you get revived, and jump right back into the battle, exactly where you left off. The Big Daddys and other enemies donít even recover any life back. Things are exactly the way they were before you did, and you can continue killing everything as if nothing ever happened. Imagine people surprise when you discovered that if you want to get the 100 points for the Brass Balls
achievement, you have to beat the entire game without using a Vita-Chamber, and do it on hard mode. Oh yeah, it knocked some people on their feat. Once again this is not an impossible achievement, because the game has plenty of ways to play through it without ever dying. It just requires you to think through all the situations in the game more. It forces you to really choose when the best time to attack a Big Daddy is, and to plan how the entire fight is going to go in your head before you even begin it. Try it sometime. Youíll never look at Bioshock the same way again I guarantee it.
If you are a fan of side scrolling, or top down scrolling shooting games, then you have heard of Ikaruga. When it was released in 2001 it took the entire SHMUP world by storm. While in most shooter games the point was to not get hit by enemy projectiles, in Ikaruga, the game not only allowed you to get hit, it actually required you to do so to progress though the game. Using a special black/white polarity shield system, you are able to actually absorb bullets that are the same color as the shield you have equipped at the time. Only bullets of the opposite color can hurt you.
While this adds an extremely interesting element to the game, the majority of the game is still the typical shooter where the point it to kill absolutely everything that stands in your way. This is, after all, how every shooter ever created works. You see an enemy, you kill it before it kills you. The Dot Eater
achievement changes all that though. To get this achievement you actually have to beat an entire level without shooting your gun off a single time. All you can do is either doge or absorb the enemy bullets. While this might seem impossible, it is possible because any enemies you donít kill eventually pass you by, and the last boss eventually gives up on trying to kill you and runs away. All you have to do is not get hit once in the entire level, and not fire your gun once. Now who would ever think of playing a SHMUP without shooting? Well if it wasnít for this achievement, probably no one.
Mega Man 9
Ok, so maybe Iím just being mean by including this game on the list, or maybe Iím trying to show off because I actually got this achievement without much trouble, but either way itís a great achievement. Letís face it, Mega Man 9 is a really hard game. The people who love it, do so because it really harkens back to the old days in the NES era, when games where hard and real gamers were hard core. To beat Mega Man 9 just once, using as many continues as it takes, is an incredibly hard feat. Imagine then the difficulty involved in beating the entire game without dying. It essentially requires you to not just play through it carefully, but to memorize the entire game, right down to every last jump, and the perfect timing required to make it, in ever single level. Oh yes, to obtain this achievement you have to become something completely different then a typical gamer. You have to become insane.