X360A's Achievement Awards 2010 - The Best, Worst, Hardest & Easiest Achievements of the Year
Written Tuesday, February 08, 2011 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Today is a big day for us, as not only do we turn 5 – yay us! – but we also get to publish our 5th Achievement Awards... which I think makes it the longest and most corruption-free award ceremony ever... right? Ouch!
The longer something goes on, in this case the achievement system, the harder it becomes to be unique and original, but 2010 proved to us that there were still some developers who have it in the tank – I’d bloody hope so as well! After 5 years, lazy and unoriginal lists should be non-existent, but they weren’t. After 5 years, carbon copy lists should be nowhere within sight, but they weren’t. So rather than just lavish the praise on those that deserve it, as well as working out the year’s easiest and hardest games, we also like to point and laugh at those who still can't grasp the concept of the system. Ridicule them if you must.
As we always do, we’re always trying to streamline and improve our accuracy on this here award show, so first... let me do a little bookkeeping. First off, the period of qualification for 2010’s awards were games that were released between December 1st, 2009 and December 31st 2010 – some of you didn’t get that memo... more on that later – and for the first time, it’s all about when the game was released, rather than the list, simply because it makes it easier for us to track.
We also changed the whole process for this year’s awards, so instead of having a nomination and a voting stage, we opted to scrap the latter altogether. Now why we did that is quite simple, because not everyone plays every game and thus, it eventually becomes a popularity contest. With the nomination stage only this year, we could get a grasp of what our readers believed by how many voted for what, but it ultimately meant that we could control which games made the final cut. Last year we overruled a few that were obviously wrong and it kind of made the voting process meaningless, so we opted to cut it this year. That, and it’s less work for us... so it’s a win-win.
Finally, there are also no new categories this year, but as a heads-up, next year we will have Kinect only categories too. This year, however, we did decide to cut the music genre. Why? Simple, seeing as the rest of the industry is already writing off the genre, we thought we would too. Joking aside though, there were six major games this year from two publishers and very little innovation in terms of achievements, so we thought it would be rather pointless. At least the category lasted one year...
Right, now that’s out of the way, let’s get on with the show.
Easiest Individual Achievement 2010
The easiest individual achievement category is actually becoming harder and harder to judge, simply because so many are so incredibly easy to achieve these days. For this year’s awards, we not only factored in how many button presses, but how long it took as well. So our formula was simple; we took the time it took to achieve the achievement, multiplied it by the amount of button presses, then divided that number by Pi to the power of love. The result? Chime’s ‘Fairy Godmother’ achievement is the winner – an achievement you get for simply pressing one button on the main menu. It fought off stiff competition from Black Ops’ ‘Just Ask Me Nicely,’ Brotherhood’s ‘Technical Difficulties,’ Limbo’s ‘Wrong Way’ and Fable 3’s ‘Hand in Hand’... all of which are stupidly easy to achieve.
I’ve probably said it every year, but I'll say it again; we are actually still waiting for an achievement for putting the disc in the drive. Dear developers, want to get mentioned in this category next year, then do this. Plus, it’ll be funny and anyone who says otherwise has no sense of humour.
Easiest Action 1000 2010
If there’s one thing that we noticed from the action genre in 2010 – both the easiest and hardest categories – it’s that there wasn’t really any freak results in terms of completion hours. The five games at the bottom end of the scale for instance – Prince of Persia, Iron Man 2, Dante’s Inferno, Darksiders and Dark Void – all were within a few hours of each other, except maybe Darksiders, which makes an appearance just to make up the numbers.
Fighting it out for the number one spot though were two titles that were significantly easier than their competitors – Dante’s Inferno and Prince of Persia. After much deliberation, Prince of Persia came out on top, taking around 7-8 hours to complete, with Dante’s Inferno’s estimated 8-10 hours coming in a close second. At least the Prince can finally say he’s won something in the last few years of gaming now...
Easiest Racing 1000 2010
I’ll be honest... the racing category nearly went the way of the music category this year too due to its relatively small crowd of titles, but because there was a much more diverse selection of racers and developers on show, we thought we’d keep it in. Plus, with more than a few racers coming in 2011 and 2012, it’d be a little pointless to cut it for a year.
Taking home the award by a resounding margin was SEGA’s Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, which takes a paltry 9-10 hours to pick up all the points. Incidentally, that was a good 15+ hours ahead of its closest rival, Split/Second, which actually required a little skill from the player as well.
I also feel like I should mention that Pure (2008) and Most Wanted (2005... a launch title!) were also nominated and on that bombshell, I’d like to reiterate to our readers that drugs are bad.
Easiest RPG 1000 2010
The “easiest RPG” category conveys a message of false hope if you ask me and 2010 was no different. This phenomenon is basically down to this simple fact: RPGs are big games and as a result, for the most part, easy/quick games don’t generally exist. Yes, there are exceptions, but not in this year’s awards.
Fable III was a clear winner in 2010, brushing off attempts by Mass Effect 2, Final Fantasy XIII and Fallout: New Vegas, but the truth is; you could complete two Fable IIIs by the time you did one of those others. That being said, it still takes a good 30 hours.
You could, however, argue that Fable III’s been streamlined so much though that it’s no longer an RPG... but ladies and gents, that’s a can of worms that we’re not willing to open up right now. At the end of the day, any game that lets you buy property, get an STD and own a poodle is more than likely going to be an RPG. End of story.
Easiest Shooting 1000 2010
Pew pew pew. Everyone loves a good shooter. Pew pew pew. Especially when it has easy cheevos. Pew pew pew. Unless that game sucks hard. Pew P... Ladies and gents, can I present this year’s winning “easiest shooting 1000”: Jurassic: The Hunted, which had you fighting... you guessed it, dinosaurs. It had stiff competition from its almost-just-as-bad-brethren, Sniper: Ghost Warrior, but pipped it to the post by a few hours. All the decent shooters asked for more than 10 hours of gameplay for the full 1000, sorry folks. That being said, I have noticed that any shooter that has a colon in its title is likely to end up sucking.*
*Please don’t name examples in the comments, after all, I do love to make sweeping suggestions with little-to-no research at all that are more often than not rather inaccurate.
Easiest Sporting 1000 2010
If you so happened to live in North America in 2010 and were an “occasional achievement whore” – defined by someone who will whore points but only if they can get a thousand in under 10 hours – 2010 was ever so kind to you. Especially in the sports category.
The showdown for this year’s award was a hotly fought affair between two titles from the same franchise: the Backyard Sports catalogue. With Sandlot Slugger taking approximately 5 hours to complete and Rookie Rush taking around 6 hours, it went down to the wire but the Rookie took home the award. It definitely seems as if Atari has their audience worked out with that one. I can picture the meeting now... “Hey Bob, we want to release two Backyard Sports titles in 6 months, how can we make sure they sell?” “Steve, that’s easy... easy “cheevos!”... “What’s a cheevo?”... “Errr, a type of cheesy crisp, right?” ...”Yeah! We’ll give it easy achievements as well to help too.”
More fool you Atari... achievement whores rent easy fodder like that. If, however, for some reason you did buy it, please go and stand in the corner and think about what you just did.
Easiest Arcade 200 2010
From an Xbox Live Arcade perspective, 2010 brought a few easy points our way, which is frankly quite unheard of from an Xbox Live Arcade perspective – some of them are super tricky.
With the likes of Pac-Man: Championship Edition and After Burner: Climax gracing the Marketplace in 2010, it was quite possible to rack up a couple of 100% XBLA completions on those titles in just a few hours on each. However, for the second year running, it’s a free Doritos game that’s taking home the cherry pie. Yes, that’s right, Bongfish’s Harm’s Way takes the number one spot this year and considering it was free, it’s surprisingly decent. So decent... and free achievements? That’s surely a winning combination if ever there was one.
Easiest Overall 1000 2010
Before we move on to 2010’s hardest lists and achievements, we finish on the easiest of the year. Usually, this category is a face-off between all of the winners of the previous easiest categories, but considering that a vast majority of easy titles didn’t slot into the other categories for this year’s awards, only the two easy sports titles get a mention. This, may I add, has not happened before.
Joining the two sports titles, which failed to win the award as you can probably tell, was the kid-oriented Megamind and the point-and-click adventure title, Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper. However, despite them all taking around 5 hours or so to complete, they’re no match for the family-oriented shovelware known as Truth or Lies, which takes an embarrassing one hour for the most part.
Ladies and gents, that’s a first then; 8 different winners for every “easiest” category in this year’s awards. I’m not sure whether we should be happy or sad about that...
Hardest Individual Achievement 2010
Moving from the easy to the insane, and we don’t just mean that an insane amount of hours is needed to complete it – that’s the next category, duh – but insane as in: “Man, dis dude has skillz!” Yes, I’m talking about the “hardest individual achievement” and up from 2010 are five proper tough cookies – probably not Ninja Gaiden tough, but still... patience, dedication and skills are almost definitely required.
Just missing out on the top spot in 2010 was Super Meat Boy’s ‘I’m a Golden God!’, which you get for 100%-ing one of the toughest little XBLA games around, as well as Halo: Reach’s infuriating ‘If They Came To Hear Me Beg’ which was sensitive to say the least. Joining those two as runner’s up were Green Day: Rock Band’s ‘A Very Troubled Youngster’ which has been described as the hardest Guitar Hero/Rock Band achievement ever and Super Street Fighter IV’s ‘Trial Athlete’ which requires you complete 840 trials – which can get super tough.
They, however, were no match for Mega Man 10’s ‘Mr Perfect’ achievement which you get for clearing the game without taking any damage... Say what!? Yes, no damage! In fact, no-one on our leaderboard has 200 points in this game because of this achievement... and you only get 30 points for it as well. Wow. Hardcore Mega Man fans need only apply.
Most Time Consuming Individual Achievement 2010
I could sit here and paint a nice pretty picture about how it was a closely fought contest this year, but honestly, that would be a complete crock of shit. The truth is, that despite it taking a stupid amount of hours to get Final Fantasy XIII’s ‘Treasure Hunter’ achievement for holding every weapon and accessory, collecting all the titles in Record of Agarest for the Titular achievement, playing 500 Virtual Pro matches for FIFA 11’s ‘Virtual Legend’ achievement and unlocking all the other achievements in Super Street Fighter IV to the ‘Overachiever’ achievement; they’re all still miles away from this year’s winner in terms of time consumption.
Taking well over 150 hours, probably nearer 200 and beyond depending on how lucky you get and how well you perform, Lost Planet 2’s ‘Committed ‘til the End’ achievement will keep you going for an insane amount of time. Once you ‘earn all the Good Job awards, items, and Career Levels available in the game’ you’ll almost definitely deserve the 100 points that it kicks out. Remember that name, by the way, as Lost Planet 2 is set to dominate a few categories in the next part of the awards.
Hardest Action 1000 2010
As I mentioned earlier on in the feature, in the action category this year there wasn’t a Far Cry 2 or a Ninja Gaiden II that required a stupid amount of hours or a certain level of godlike skill. It was surprisingly balanced.
Perched just beneath the final two this year were two great games in their own right: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and Red Dead Redemption, both of which weren’t massively tasking, but were enough so to make the shortlist.
The actual winner came down to a face-off between Just Cause 2 and Bayonetta... neither of which were particularly hard, but both nominated for different reasons. Just Cause 2 was part of this exclusive club of two simply because it took 70 plus hours to complete. Truth is though, it was easy, but it was time consuming. Bayonetta on the other hand, you could complete in half the time, but a small amount of skill was needed to take on both the hard and ‘Infinite Climax’ difficulty levels – even with the Evil Harvest Rosary and the Moon of Mahaa-Kalaa equipped. At the end of the day, it takes a lot longer for someone to learn the nuances of Bayonetta if they’re totally clueless in the whole genre than it does to complete Just Cause 2... so Bayonetta wins, but only just.
Hardest Racing 1000 2010
The “hardest racing” category was a much more competitive category than its easiest counterpart in this year’s awards and there is a definite emphasis on skill rather than time consumption this year... although that’s not to say they won’t take a while to compete; long story short, they will as well!
Making its way into the hardest category as well as the easiest is Disney’s Split/Second, and joining it is Bizarre Creations’ Blur, nail’d and MotoGP 2009/10.
Of course, that’s only four, so by a process of elimination you should have worked out that F1 2010 took home the award... well, you actually knew that before you read the blurb because you looked at the picture... but stop spoiling my fun will you! So yeah, thanks to the ‘World Champion – Expert’ achievement – for winning a championship season on expert difficulty – and the ‘Commitment is the Key’ achievement – for completing seven seasons! – Codemasters’ F1 2010 is both difficult and time consuming and thus, worthy of our “hardest racing 1000” award this year.
Hardest RPG 1000 2010
2010’s “hardest RPG” – like 2009’s Star Ocean – was a bit of a runaway leader, with no-one coming anywhere near it, both in terms of difficulty or the length of time required to fully complete the full 1,000 points.
The shortlist for this category was, unbelievably, five in the end, but even Mass Effect 2’s testing ‘Insanity’ difficulty and Alpha Protocol’s random unlocking achievements wasn’t enough to come within light years of our winner. Heck, even Final Fantasy XIII and Resonance of Fate’s grinding wasn’t good enough!
Taking home the gold by a country mile was Compile Hearts’ Record of Agarest of course, which took well over 200 hours to complete, asking players to marry all the girls, max out all your attributes, earn all 142 titles and beat the game multiple times – all of which takes a chuffin’ long time! Congrats to anyone who has the stones to take on this behemoth or has it as one of their completed games.
Hardest Shooting 1000 2010
Two words... Lost Planet 2. Okay, well, technically that’s two words and a number, but come on now, let’s not get all bogged down in semantics just yet, we’re not even halfway through!
Even if you combine all the hours required to complete all our category shortlist together, you still wouldn’t complete Capcom’s Lost Planet 2. Nowhere near actually, and there is no way to sugar coat that. Even if you took Vanquish’s 20 hours – skill required of course!, Aliens vs. Predators’ 70 hours and Bad Company 2’s 40 hours – that ‘Demolition Man’ achievement is a complete bitch, by the way – you’d still have enough hours left over to get 1,000 Gamerscore in Halo: Reach and Black Ops before you could 1K Lost Planet 2.
So basically, Lost Planet 2 was more of a grind than all the other shooters put together this year, which is a massive statement to make, but it’s not far off. Anyone who has the full 1,000 then deserves eternal kudos... Now if they have the 1,000 in Lost Planet 2 and the 1,000 in Far Cry 2 from a few years back as well, then wow. Just wow.
Hardest Sporting 1000 2010
Let’s be honest here, the achievements in sports games these days are fairly unoriginal, boring and full of way too much grinding. It’s as if the developers themselves have just got sick of being creative and thrown in carbon copy lists just to fulfil Microsoft’s achievement guidelines. 2010 was no different and there was more grinding on offer throughout the year than possibly any other year to date.
On this year’s shortlist, but not winning, were MLB 2K10 (40+ hours), FIFA 11 (100+ hours), NBA Jam (50-80 hours) and NBA 2K11 (100+ hours)... which in all honesty, for yearly franchises (or a budget game) is way too over the top. The winner though actually wasn’t as much as a grind as the four runner’s up, and FIFA World Cup 2010 gets the award this year for its online World Cup achievements which basically require you kick everyone’s ass in a World Cup with some of the worst teams in the game. An achievement that is effectively boost-proof and honestly, we’d much prefer harder – but shorter goals – than those that promote mind-numbing grinding. In fact, we’ve joked amongst the staff about this recently, but we really miss the FIFA 06 days... because they were way more fun from an achievement perspective than this bunch of codswallop.
Hardest Arcade 200 2010
You know it’s true when they say that some of the individual Xbox Live Arcade achievements are actually harder than the vast majority of retail games, and this bunch proves it. The five games up for nomination this year were in two camps: camp one; where the vast majority of points were relatively straightforward, but there was that one bitch of an achievement; and camp two; the general slogfest.
Making up camp one was Mega Man 10, which had a few more than tricky achievements; Super Meat Boy, which has one super tricky achievement; and Aqua: Naval Warfare; which has one amazingly hard achievement. While camp two plays home to Earthworm Jim HD and Perfect Dark.
There was always going to be one winner though, especially considering it won the ‘hardest individual achievement’ award of this year’s awards... and that’s none other than, Mega Man 10. Well done you blue bastard, you’ve resulted in a lot of frustration in 2010 for a lot of gamers... but that’s why we love you!
Hardest Overall 1000 2010
Wrapping up the 'hardest' categories of the awards is, of course, the "hardest overall 1,000" and although Lost Planet 2 has been kicking ass throughout most of the Achievement Awards, it’s in for a much tougher time in this category.
Propping up the hardest 3 this year are Codemasters' F1 2010 and Harmonix’s Green Day: Rock Band – basically because of the ‘A Very Troubled Youngster’ achievement – but while both of those are possible, the three front-runners are miles ahead in terms of time consuming and difficulty wise – of course, that’s subjective though.
Falling at the first hurdle when whittling them down to a winner was Super Street Fighter IV, which despite being a tricky monster, didn’t really come close to the final two; which of course leaves Record of Agarest and Lost Planet 2. Both 200 hour plus games; both with plenty of grind; and both with plenty of skill and determination needed. However, because Lost Planet 2 requires you get a number one spot on one of the leaderboards for one of its achievements, it eventually came home a clear winner. Congratulations Japan... you took a hard game and somehow made it harder by setting stupidly hard achievements. I hope you feel better now... what’s that? You do? Good!
Game With Most Glitched Achievements 2010
There was a point in 2009 when we thought that the glitchy achievement phenomenon was on its way out. Games seemed to be tested much more thoroughly than in years gone by and aside from Ghostbusters that year, things were picking up. Then 2010 happened. The year of the haunted DLC.
Getting away from the dreaded tarred brush this year was Tinker, whose broken achievement was fixed... eventually, and just missing out ever so slightly was Fallout: New Vegas, whose glitches cause a few people to miss out on achievements for whatever reason.
Although Your Shape: Fitness Evolved didn’t technically have any glitched achievements, the whole “event” stuff and the fact there hasn’t been an event yet ultimately means that it might as well be glitched. May I add it’s completely ridiculous and irresponsible to tie achievements to something that you’re not going to follow through with. Just missing out on the top spot was EA’s Army of Two 2, whose DLC was so glitchy that some achievements weren’t unlocking for players, but that’s nothing compared to our winner: Dark Void.
Fancy releasing DLC for a game that wasn’t good enough for DLC to begin with, and then worst of all, not tying up the achievements so that they unlock properly. Whether that was Microsoft or Capcom’s error, who knows, but the fact that it took a year to fix is frankly terrible consumer service... I suppose that’s what you get for buying a game that no-one cared about though.
Worst Achievement Picture 2010
Moving from the unprofessional to the damn right ugly; it’s time to point and laugh at those terrible achievement tiles and this year had its fair share.
Codemasters were wowing us with their Microsoft Paint skills with their ‘Unforgettable’ achievement tile in F1 2010 which shows the Monaco flag – a flag as uninspiring as Poland’s... sorry Poland, it’s true. Then there was Limbo’s ‘Alone in the Dark’ tile which although accurate and fitting with the game’s art style, was pretty damn simple and ugly – it’s a small white oval on a black background for Pete’s sake!
The other three nominees fell down for sheer laziness on their whole list’s tiles: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 had 49 ugly-ass coins of varying types of metal with numbers on them; while Record of Agarest War used the same background and just threw numbers on them – inventive! That’s nothing compared to Prince of Persia’s list though, which used the same symbol and colour scheme across all 40 tiles... and to make matters worse, they did the same in 2008 with their other Prince of Persia title. They must not have got the memo from last time, so here’s a new one: Dear Ubisoft Montreal, if you’re going to roll out a cash-in title, at least try and disguise that that’s the case!
Worst Publisher for Achievements 2010
In pretty much all the categories in our award feature, we try to have five final nominees, all of which are whittled down and tweaked, based upon your nominations – even in categories that are clearly one-sided - until we have our winner.
For this year’s 'worst publisher' category though, this one was too one-sided that we got to our second nominee and thought, you know what, this is pointless. Sure, we started and put pen to paper and added EA to the final shortlist; you know, for their Army of Two 2 DLC shenanigans, the Dragon Age: Origins patch issues that had to be re-patched and the sheer amount of grinding involved for their sports titles, but then we got to Capcom and actually chuckled at how there was really no point to carry on with the category’s shortlist.
For Capcom, on the lesser side we were perturbed by the lack of originality in Dead Rising 2’s list and slightly annoyed that Super Street Fighter IV’s list was just completely insane. But then on the flip side, if you factor in the MotoGP glitched achievement, the Dark Void DLC fiasco and the ridiculously over-the-top Lost Planet 2 list, it’s clear that Capcom had a ridiculously bad year as far as achievements go... maybe the vast majority of Japanese developers just don’t “get” the whole achievement phenomenon. Maybe it’s about time they did!
Worst Achievement List 2010
Finally, topping off the worst of the worst is the ultimate category that no-one wants to win... I mean, why would they? We’re saying, “Hey you, Mr Developer, your creativity and fan service sucks!” Ladies and gents, may I present, the “worst achievement list of 2010”... a year with a lot of bad lists.
CSI: Fatal Conspiracy may have had a list that lacked originality, again, and DJ Hero 2’s list was practically trying to coerce you to go buy a new set of decks just for one achievement – why would anyone want two anyway? – but they were still just small fry in this category this year. Incidentally, with regard to DJ Hero 2, to make matters worse, that’s two consecutive years they’ve put in that two deck achievement.
Just ahead of them is Prince of Persia and its lazy achievement tiles which makes the POP franchise 2 for 2 on the Xbox 360, and Fallout: New Vegas, with Obsidian opting for grinding and a by-the-numbers list, as opposed to an interesting and original one. Still, they weren’t enough to topple... you guessed it, Lost Planet 2 and it’s ridiculously time consuming and demanding achievement list. Now, we don’t mind a challenge, but come on, at least make it reasonable!
Best Achievement Picture 2010
With the worst of the worst now covered and put behind us, I can finally take off my cynical hat and put on my rose-tinted glasses once again. Kicking off the positive vibes section of the award show is the “best achievement picture” category, where we focus on style and substance, and that alone... okay, we’ll take a little humour as well.
What’s funnier than an ickle monkey looking all sad? That’s Black Ops’ ‘I Hate Monkeys’ achievement, by the way. Speaking of amusing, if there’s one thing that Obsidian got spot on with New Vegas’ achievements this year, it was the tiles – ‘Mod Machine’ especially.
In terms of iconic this year, Splinter Cell: Conviction’s ‘Best of the Best’ achievement is pretty iconic, as was Super Street Fighter IV’s ‘Quarter Up,’ but all those weren’t a match for both comedy and sheer brilliance under one roof... AKA Dead Rising 2’s Masquerade tile... because putting random stuff on a zombie’s head is as fun as it gets, which we think the tile captures perfectly.
Best Publisher for Achievements 2010
No publisher is ever going to have a perfect run throughout the year in terms of achievement lists – partly because it depends on the developer and how many games they released – but praising the most consistent bunch is what we do best.
Despite getting a few nominations, we thought it’d be unfair to let Rockstar take home the award, because although 1 for 1 on achievement lists makes them supremely consistent, they only put out one list - duh. The two horse race then fell down to Ubisoft versus Microsoft; both with good and bad lists throughout the year, but with the good far outweighing the bad.
Ubisoft on the one hand may have had a strong showing with Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Splinter Cell: Conviction, but HAWX 2 and various others let them down. Then there’s Microsoft, who had three extremely strong lists with Halo: Reach, Fable III and Crackdown 2... Oh, who am I kidding, of course Microsoft won this year... did you read which three lists they had in their stable? Very, very good examples of what makes the achievement system so great.
Best DLC for Achievements 2010
Obviously, creating worthwhile DLC is a fairly new experience for most developers and publishers, but creating achievements for those bite-size adventures shouldn’t really differ from their usual creative processes. That’s in theory. In practice, some seem to lose their way when it comes to DLC... not in these five lists though, and although Dragon Age: Awakening, Crackdown 2’s ‘Toy Box,’ Alan Wake’s ‘The Writer’ and Borderlands’ ‘The Secret Armory of General Knoxx’ all had very solid lists with a few highlights, none of them held a candle to Red Dead’s ‘Undead Nightmare’ DLC.
Sure, there were a few too many by-the-numbers achievements in there for our liking, but there’s no disguising it... any achievement list that has you “Find and kill a sasquatch,” “Find and break a unicorn” and “Find and kill a chupacabra” deserves to win any award show category. A much deserved reward if we do say so ourselves.
Most Original Achievement in 2010
Original and unique achievements are what make the world go round... or the achievement world, anyway. It’s as simple as that. In recent years, some of the tasks that these achievements have asked of us have been the highlight of our gaming calendar and despite there being no Valve achievements this year, it was still a good bunch of five finalists.
Fable III made a huge impact with us in this category this year, managing to get ‘Coronation Chicken’ – awarded for making a royal judgement dressed as a chicken – and ‘Henry VIII’ – awarded for marrying six times and killing two of your spouses – into our five favourite original achievements of the year. The other two runners-up were Christmas themed, with Deathspank: Thongs of Virtue’s ‘Ruin Christmas’ achievement, which is awarded for killing Santa and Saw II’s ‘Wasted Your Life’ achievement, awarded for playing on Christmas day – random, but we like random!
The winner though, by a long shot it must be said, is Red Dead Redemption’s ‘Dastardly’ achievement, for hog-tying a woman, placing her on the railroad tracks and then watching her disappear under a steam train. Brilliant... I can still picture the red mist now that flies up as a result! I’d go as far as to say, that it's not only one of 2010’s best, but one of the best individual achievements since the system’s creation.
Best Achievement List 2010
Unlike most years, this year’s “best achievement” list wasn’t as clean-cut usual. You could argue that’s because Valve didn’t release a game, and to be perfectly frank, you’re probably right on the money. Out of the five-strong shortlist though, any of them could have won, but because Fable III had way too many collectibles, as did the other runner-up, Crackdown 2, they both just missed out on the final three this year, which consisted of these three beauties:
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
From Assassin’s Creed to Brotherhood, the Ubisoft Montreal team have grown leaps and bounds from an achievement perspective. We rave on a lot here about balancing achievement lists, making them both accessible and a challenge at the same time, and Ubisoft Montreal have perfected that with Brotherhood, while at the same time, dialling down the amount of collectibles from the original. Not only do they reward players for exploration and completion, the Brotherhood list has a couple of unique gems in there too, like killing the guard with a broom and jumping off one of the highest points and using a parachute. Unfortunately, while we do love Brotherhood’s unique multiplayer, there is a bit too much emphasis there in the achievements for our liking and a tad too much grinding involved.
When it comes to achievements, Bungie, like Valve, rarely put a foot wrong. With a superb balance, both in terms of difficulty and spreading them across all facets of the game, Reach’s list is Bungie’s best yet. We’re huge fans of the unique mission achievements as we feel they offer a sense of replayability to certain missions, and rewarding players for completing legendary on your lonesome is what we like to see in lists these days. There is a touch of originality, but not quite the level that Valve seems to put in and that is the only thing that slightly holds the list back.
Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead’s achievement list is a two-sided affair. On the one hand, the single-player achievements that Rockstar pile into their big budget titles are up there with the best, including classics like ‘Dastardly’ and ‘Bearly Legal’ – for skinning 18 bears, geddit? They also encourage exploration and completion too, which we love. Then on the other hand, they put way too much emphasis on the game’s multiplayer, which is miles behind the actual single-player experience. Yes, we understand that Rockstar likes to tempt their players online, but there’s really no need for them to do that whatsoever. In short, Rockstar cut it out will you? Just focus on your game's main selling point... which isn't the multiplayer!
After much deliberation and plenty of to-ing and fro-ing, we came to the decision that 2010’s best achievement list was... *drum roll* Halo: Reach. The decision was simple; although Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Red Dead Redemption both had great lists, we felt that Ubisoft Montreal and Rockstar had forgotten why people play their games in the first place... for their single-player experiences. Like we always say, it’s alright to tempt people into those modes, but to ask too much of their weaker aspect seems like a huge oversight. Bungie on the other hand crafted a list with an almost impeccable balance and although Halo is almost certainly multiplayer-centric, they created achievements that would come naturally if someone dedicated a fair amount of time to the modes, rather than going out of their way to do stuff that didn't feel natural to them. I said fair amount of time, not inordinate, by the way. Anyway, five great lists this year in the final five, but a worthy winner in Halo: Reach.
Game With Most Potential for Achievements 2011
Like most categories before this one, we had five final nominees on our shortlist, each with a valid reason why we think that they could churn out a great list in 2011, most of which were simple reasons.
The winner though? Simple... it’s Portal 2. Why? That question’s even easier to answer... it’s Valve, innit? You know, the Seattle based developer who have won 3 out of 4 of our “best achievement list” awards – The Orange Box (which I still attest is the greatest list ever created), Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2. In case you’re wondering, they have a 100% success rate in winning that award; 3 games, 3 awards. Attention developers of 2011, you have your work cut out to break that trend. Do us proud!
That’s it! We’re done! My fingers are bleeding now and although your eyes may be bleeding too, hopefully we kept you entertained long enough to fight through the pain. Thanks to everyone as per usual who nominated and thanks to the staff who filtered through said nominations and handed us a list of numbers on a plate. I’m now off to bathe myself in ice for about a week... I mean, whose idea was it to have two award ceremonies within a month of each other? What’s that? Mine? D’oh! Either way, it’s been a blast for the last 5 years and here’s to another 5. Don’t forget to enter our birthday giveaway... we are 5 after all, which means we’re giving away 5 Kinect devices. Wait, shouldn’t you be buying us presents!?