x360a Achievement Awards 06/07
Written Sunday, February 17, 2008 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Welcome to the second yearly achievement awards and this time it’s back and bigger than ever. A few changes from last year; due to Microsoft clamping down on the trading of gamesaves, we thought it would be a fitting tribute to lose that category altogether. Fear not folks, this year we have two brand new PREMIUM categories. Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you...
As usual, the same rules apply. A game list only qualifies if we had it on our site between the 1st November 2006 and 31st October 2007, so before anyone says anything... Avatar does not qualify. The votes came in their tens of thousands this year and the voting was close in many categories.
We’ll start with the “Easiest” categories, then move to the “Hardest” before finishing up on the premium categories that only the best and worst will win. So, let’s not dilly dally anymore and get on with the awards. Enjoy!
Easiest Action 1000 06/07
We kick off the proceedings with the battle of the lightweights, i.e. the action games. These games can all be nailed in a short period of time, ranging from around 3 to 15 hours dependent on skill and whether you can stomach them that long. Nominations included CSI, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean and Fusion Frenzy but taking this category by a country mile this year is our green, little, hard backed friends who are left in the 80’s. Yes that's right, the winner is the one and only TMNT title. Cowabunga dudes!
Easiest Sports 1000 06/07
Ah, the sports titles, if last year was anything to go by, then this could be over before it’s started. Fortunately for us, the developers on the whole have caught on a little and there are no more 40 minute 1000 point prizes for our gamerscore, instead, you’re looking anywhere between 4 and 40 hours this year. Nominations included Brian Lara Cricket, NBA Homecourt, NBA 2K7 and Pro Evolution Soccer 2007 [why?], but that was no match for the mighty Madden 08 which could be completed in a measly 4 hours. I’m not sure whether a congrats or a commiserations is in order here.
Easiest Racing 1000 06/07
What chance do any racing games have when they come up against a Disney/Pixar game? The answer is none, it happened last year when the opposition fell subject to “Cars” and it happened again this year when they fell subject to its follow-up, “Cars – Mater National”. Dirt, is an easy 975 points and if it wasn’t for that last 1000 miles achievement, this battle for easiest racing 1000 could have been a totally different ball game.
Winner: Cars Mater National
Easiest RPG 1000 06/07
The question for this category should not be who has won it, but more like, who in their right mind nominated Blue Dragon? Well, nevertheless, it was nominated so we digress. The two forerunners for Easiest RPG this year are most definitely Two Worlds and Eternal Sonata, and it would seem that Two Worlds pipped it to the post. Despite the two broken achievements [which are now fixed], the full 1000 points would probably set you back in the region of 15 hours or so whereas its opponent, Eternal Sonata, requires multiple playthroughs totalling around 25-30 hours, so the smart money is on Two Worlds.
Winner: Two Worlds
Easiest Shooter 1000 06/07
The easiest shooter category is a fairly different one this year because a few premium titles managed to slip in to the mix. The customary Cabela title made its appearance, along with Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 and Medal of Honour. But the real battle fell down to two of the biggest titles of last year, Halo 3 and Bioshock. There was disgust shown at the ease of the Halo 3 achievements when the list was announced last June, but that aside, getting a “Two for One” kill with the Spartan Laser is no easy feat which is why we ended up giving the award to Bioshock which despite being a great game has a fairly standard and easy achievement list. Simply playing through the game will net you the vast majority of the achievements and the others are more a matter of scouting around, rather than luck.
Easiest Arcade 200 06/07
Achievement lists for arcade titles since their inception generally fall in to one of two categories, fairly easy and insanely hard. Welcome to the fairly easy category where an hour or so of playing these titles will net you the 200 points they offer without you even breaking a sweat, well all except Worms [those challenges can prove to be quite tricky at times], nevertheless, it was nominated. Track & Field, Sonic the Hedgehog and 3D Mini Golf also made the nominations list but they were no match for SEGA and their mighty reincarnation of Golden Axe. Riding around on a lizard in hot pants and getting 200 easy achievement points is something that will appease a lot of gamers, or is that just me? Either way, it takes home the award for easiest 200 arcade points of last year.
Winner: Golden Axe
Easiest Individual Achievement 06/07
Ah, the beloved individual easy achievements, you know... The ones that require little or next to no effort at all and where gamers are rewarded, well... for not a lot really. In 2007, we were rewarded for watching game credits [Guitar Hero 2], creating an American Football team [All Pro Football], refusing to leave a plane because we were scared [Medal of Honour: Airborne – Go Go Go] and even for meeting John Woo, mind you, that was not in real life, but the dude that is working in the unlock shop on Stranglehold. They are all supremely easy, but they don’t quite beat the easiness of the Transformers achievement, "Transform and Roll Out", where gamers get “rewarded” [I use that term really, really loosely in this instance] for... Wait for it... For pressing the Y button. Wow! Congrats, you’ve pressed a button, here have an achievement.
Winner: Transform & Roll Out - Transformers
Easiest Overall 1000 06/07
Now we move on to the easiest of the easiest titles and it was a close race to the finish line this time around. Failing to make the top two was CSI, Surfs Up and Fusion Frenzy, not because they take a long time to finish by any means whatsoever but because they don’t fall in to the 3 and 4 hour category as Madden 08 and TMNT do. Battle of easiest sports Vs battle of easiest action. TMNT is the first title to take home two awards this year and takes home the gold by a whisker.
Hardest Action 1000 06/07
Out with the easy and in with the hard but I warn you now, the majority of games we’re about to discuss over the next few awards are enough to scare the spots off a leopard, so beware. First up is the much contested action category and it’s a mixed bunch here. Assassin’s Creed gets its first mention of this year's awards, namely because those flags are a real pain... Just like the 800 orbs that you had to collect in Crackdown which also makes the list [wow, looks like people REALLY don’t like those collecting achievements]. Other honourable mentions go to Earth Defence Force 2017 and Stranglehold which make the nominations list, but they are no match for the retail version of our little blue friend Sonic. The general consensus was that the list was hard because the game is so close to being unplayable with its impossible camera angles and poor gameplay that makes getting achievements that much more difficult. Not a good victory for Sonic this time round. So speed along my little blue friend, you’ve never been quite able to grasp the 3D world.
Winner: Sonic The Hedgehog
Hardest Sports 1000 06/07
The hardest sports category always makes me shudder a little. Last year, Table Tennis & Tiger Woods 06 ran the show, this year however, we can breathe a little easier. Tiger Woods is back but the list is a mere shadow of its former list which is a good thing and it only takes a fraction of the time to get the full 1000. Also making the shortlist this year was FIFA 07, SKATE and Def Jam Icon... Hmmm, so that’s 4 EA titles... Anyone notice a pattern? Funnily enough, with all the EA titles being nominated you'd have thought that an EA title would have won... Well in actual fact, the winner of this year’s hardest sports title actually goes to Activision and Tony Hawk’s Project 8. Damn that number 1 rank achievement, it took the difficulty of the Tony Hawks achievements to a new level.
Winner: Tony Hawk's Project 8
Hardest Arcade 200 06/07
Welcome to the other end of the scale in the arcade titles, the hardest 200 arcade game category, otherwise known as the insanely difficult. Honourable mentions this time around go to Luxor 2, Root Beer Tapper, Space Giraffe and the glitchy TMNT Arcade title, but they were no match for Hexic 2. After Hexic HD got pipped at the posts last year by Bejeweled 2, it’s back with vengeance this year and not letting anyone get in its path. A game that is primarily luck based with loads of skill still needed to be thrown on top, it’s been described as Tetris on acid and getting points in this bad boy is just as hard. The hard portion of the achievements in this game are most definitely the Black Pearl achievements, making one alone is hard enough but making a “cluster, line or flower” of black pearls is going to make you want to pull your hair out!!!
Winner: Hexic 2
Hardest Racer 1000 06/07
Ahhh, the battle of the hardest racers, gone is the easy Pixar title, hello to the hardcore [I use that term loosely] racing titles, it’s a pity the competition wasn’t fierce in it though. Winning this award this year with 70% of the votes is Forza 2, beating off weak competition from Moto GP and Nascar 08. The inane and mind numbing racing was too much for most people this year and was probably put forward by so many because in order to get the full 1000 points, it's going to take you 100+ hours.
Winner: Forza 2
Hardest RPG 1000 06/07
Pretty much one of the easiest categories this year as it was last year actually. It was either Blue Dragon weighing it at like 100 hours worth of play time or Eternal Sonata & Two Worlds which both come in at around 15-30 hours. The smart money is on Blue Dragon and of course, it takes home the candy this year.
Winner: Blue Dragon
Hardest Shooter 1000 06/07
This is one of the most closely fought categories of this year where all five games nominated could have won and not only needed a certain degree of skill to get through them, but also needed you to put in a ridiculous amount of time. The five in question are Lost Planet, Rainbow Six Vegas, Call of Duty 3, FEAR and of course, Gears of War. In each of the titles, there is that one elusive achievement that takes a ridiculous amount of time and effort. So the final decision rode on this last achievement, being Extreme Soldier, Elite, General, MP 1000 and Seriously respectively. After countless back and forth rebuttals, the award finally ended up with Call of Duty 3 because of the ridiculous amount of time and dedication it takes to attain your General rank, especially with the poor lobby system. So congrats Treyarch and Call of Duty 3, you have officially the hardest 1000 shooter points of last year.
Winner: Call of Duty 3
Hardest Indiviudal Achievement 06/07
Otherwise known as The Pulling Teeth award, where we choose one single achievement that is strictly for those with the patience of a saint and persistence of a trooper, huge amounts of skill is also required! The achievements up for nomination here are some of the hardest we have ever come across. Guitar Hero 3’s Enlightened Guitarist requires the gamer to gold star 20 songs on expert, so not only is a vast amount of skill needed, but you also need to be able to perform under pressure. On a similar note, Guitar Hero 2’s Start a Band Already gets an honourable mention as not only do you need the skills, but you need to find a mate who has similar skills and then you need to 5 star every song on Expert. Apocalyptic Cleared [Dance Dance Revolution] and Extreme Soldier [Lost Planet] were also in the running because of the sheer difficulty of them, but out in front by a country mile was no other than the Mile High Club from Call of Duty 4 which required the gamer to take out a small unit of terrorists on a plane, rescue a VIP, on veteran difficulty and with a really harsh time limit. Ouch! Nearly 40% of the voters voted for this alone and it should be noted, that not only is it incredibly hard but severe amounts of luck are required as well. So for that reason alone, Mile High Club, takes home the silverware this year.
Winner: Mile High Club - Call of Duty 4
Hardest Overall 1000 06/07
You’ve seen the easiest 1000, now welcome to hell. That’s right, the award for the hardest 1000 points of last year is now upon us. 6 games nominated in this hugely popular category. Special mentions go out to the shooters this year for being insanely hard but the winner did not come from that genre. Call of Duty 3, Lost Planet, FEAR and Gears of War all came close, but no cigar for them this time around. Instead, the hardest 1000 award was between two ridiculous lists; Rayman Raving Rabbids and Guitar Hero 3. Now this could have gone either way, but the majority of the people tended to lean towards Guitar Hero 3. Why? Maybe it was the Enlightened Guitarist achievement or the 5 star expert on co-op. Maybe it was because it asked ridiculous things like left handed career completion or controller career completion which are terrible in their own right. We’re not sure, but that’s the way the masses went. Why did Rayman not win it when no one to date has got a legitimate 1000 in this? We’d say that popularity and disappointment set in with everyone here. A popular franchise such as Guitar Hero disappointed a lot of fans with such a poor list whereas Rayman only has the fraction of users so it won't have the same impact. Shame on you Neversoft!
Winner: Guitar Hero 3
Most Glitched Achievements Category
The dreaded glitch category which has put many a gamer through moment or two of discomfort. That moment when you think you've fulfilled the criteria for an achievement, but shock and horror sets in as the achievement is not rewarded. Oh the humanity!! Whether it be the horrible Seriously glitch [Gears of War] or the unreliable online counters for The Darkness that seemed to make the online achievements a nightmare. But the three that made more of an impact on the masses were; Call of Juarez which not only had glitched achievements but they were secret as well, Two Worlds and its glitchy visit location achievements which are bad enough even if they aren’t glitched and last but by no means least, SKATE and its “give you all the achievements by accident” glitch which spoilt a good game for some. But as always, we can only have one winner and Two Worlds gets this gong for the glitching of a collection achievement which surely drove some people mad... “Why oh why can’t I get in this mine!?” Fear not, it’s fixed now, so better late than never... Hear that EA? *cough* Tiger 2006 *cough*.
Winner: Two Worlds
Most Time Consuming Achievement 06/07
Welcome to battle of the beasts, where we reward the achievement that requires the most dedication of all. We are talking time here and not difficulty factors, so although Rayman was nominated, we thought it would be unfair to reward a game that not only takes hours to complete, but actually requires a certain level of perfection, beyond anything human. So on to the nominations; Blue Dragon’s Max Out All Characters was no 5 minute job and could set you back a good 100 hours or so, but that is no match for our 3 big boys this year. Yes, that’s right, Elite [Rainbow Six Vegas], Seriously [Gears of War] and General [Call of Duty 3] were all in the running for this award. Three achievements of epic proportions but only one can win. After hours of deliberation, we decided to give the award to Call of Duty 3, because not only was it a huge ask of gamers to rack up 40,000 online points, but the lobby and loading times added to the agony ten-fold. So congrats go to Treyarch and any gamer that has put the hours in to having this little trophy on their card.
Winner: General - Call of Duty 3
Most Original Achievement 06/07
One of the premium categories of the awards and in al honesty, my favourite, where originality is rewarded. We as gamers like nothing more than a little thought and originality thrown in to our achievement hunting and what better than to reward developers for that by picking up this award. We have 5 fantastic achievements on offer this year and they have come leaps and bounds from last year's nominations. Bioshock and Irony were amongst the nominees, where the gamer was rewarded for taking a photo of the dead body of madman photographer Sander Cohen. We couldn’t have an originality award without mentioning Shadowrun's Shadowrun Fever achievement where tea bagging an opponent’s dead body was the right way to go if you wanted this achievement. And of course, there is also the Body Armour achievement in Crackdown where using the beloved harpoon gun, gamers were asked to turn a vehicle in to a human billboard by pinning 5 enemies against it. All 3 great achievements in their own right but a huge honourable mention must be given to The Darkness & the Romantic achievement. An achievement which is unlike any other and actually creates a powerful in game moment rewarding Jackie for spending some quality time with his girlfriend Jenny by sitting down and watching a movie. Against the norm and one that has had a positive reaction across the board, unfortunately for them this year, they had to come up against Valve and their Little Rocket Man achievement from the Orange Box. For pure comedy genius and originality this time around, they will be taking home the prize. It’s not very often in a game where you will get rewarded for dragging a small gnome across an alien ridden planet and sticking it on a rocket and sending it out to space. Comedy gold! Kudos goes to the folk at Valve for the Most Original achievement in this year’s awards.
Winner: Little Rocket Man - The Orange Box
Worst Achievement Tile 06/07
Best Achievement Tile 06/07
Winner: Gears of Wars - Seriously
Worst Company for Achievements
One of the dreaded wooden spoon categories for this year’s awards and one that no one wants to take away. The publishers on show here are generally those that have shown no originality in their lists on the whole, shown a distinct lack of effort and generally failed to grasp the meaning of the achievement craze like the majority of us have done. It was a closely fought two horse race this year and it went right down to the wire. Ahead of the pack was both 2K and EA. It was the battle of 2K, basically for lack of effort on the whole, against EA, the sell outs. 2K on the one hand have rehashed the same achievements from last year for some of their sports titles and if it wasn’t for Bioshock and The Darkness, 2K would have been taking home this award. But out in front at the finish line, by a nose length is EA. They’ve not done much right this year as far as their achievements go; from the glitched achievements in SKATE to the selling their souls for cash by actually getting companies to sponsor achievements. I mean seriously, while everyone else in the industry is looking at ingenious ways to make effective and original lists, EA as usual are selling their souls to the highest bidder. Not cool.
Best Company for Achievements 06/07
The best company for achievements proved to be a closely fought category this year with the publisher who has the best balance of lists coming out on top. The two main runners in this category were no other than industry top dogs, Ubisoft and Microsoft. In the one corner, we had Microsoft with the likes of Crackdown, Gears of War, Halo 3 and Shadowrun and they were standing toe to toe with Ubisoft who had Assassin’s Creed, Rainbow Six Vegas and Splinter Cell Double Agent under their belt. But unfortunately for them we have to take the rough with the smooth and because they were carrying the likes of TMNT and CSI, we decided to give the award to Microsoft.
Winner: Microsoft Game Studios
Worst Achievement List 06/07
Possibly the one category that no-one wants to take home this year, this is the ULTIMATE wooden spoon category. Up for nomination were 5 games that each had something unique about them. CSI was nominated purely for lack of originality, NHL 2K8 was put forward for the sheer lack of effort, did they think no one would notice it was pretty much the same list as last year? Madden 08 was nominated for ease, trying to get some cheap easy sales? Maybe, but from Madden 07 which was not a bad list to Madden 08, we are wondering what went wrong on the way? And of course, who can forget Rayman which is nominated for the outrageous difficulty of it. They all still failed to live up to... Guitar Hero 3, purely because of some of the stuff that Neversoft asked you to do. This list has everything and that's not in a good way this time... The insane [Gold Star 20 Songs on Expert] to the damn right stupid [complete the career on a controller and left handed]. If asking the gamer to complete a game called Guitar Hero on a controller isn’t the most ridiculous thing I ever heard, then I’ll be damned... So for pretty much the worst list we’ve ever seen, congrats [or should that be commiserations] goes out to Neversoft, Activision, Red Octane and Guitar Hero 3... In other news, look out for Controller Hero in 2009 [/sarcasm]
Winner: Guitar Hero 3
Best Achievement List 06/07
The pinnacle of anyone’s achievement designing career should be to take home this prize. We have 5 hugely impressive lists on show here; they are as follows...
Call of Duty 4 - An all single player list which to the majority is a great thing. But this list is notable for a few things. Firstly, we have a great spread of achievements over different difficulty levels. For those that want to just play the game, you have the normal mission achievements. For those that want to be tested, we have the testing veteran achievements and for those that want to show off, they have the "Mile High Club". As well as these well balanced achievements, we have some more amusing ones, like smashing all the TV's in the TV station showing the speech or the satisfying "All Ghillied Up" as you stealth through hostile territories. All in all, great list.
Crackdown - What can we say here? Collection achievements made easier (good old ping), juggling people and cars, bowling landmarks over enemies or stunts galore, to name but a few. A great list where originality runs deep.
Gears of War - A great balance of achievements here again. Whether it be the challenging Insane mode or the more than time consuming Seriously. We at x360a don't mind multiplayer achievements, so long as the multiplayer mode is worthy of them. Gears is! As well as the great balance, the thought that went in to the names has been unrivalled to date, so touché to Epic there.
The Orange Box - The first game here to break the 50 achievement mark and they certainly don't sacrifice quality for quantity. Varying difficulty levels here again and with more than enough humour and imagination thrown in, whether it be throwing a can at the local law enforcement, shooting 2 points with the Grav gun out on the court or amusingly shooting a gnome in to space. A great list for a great box of games.
Bioshock - Great set here. Good balance again seems to be key, whether it be the collecting achievements, the RPG style upgrading achievements or the morally charged "Do I slay the little sister or don't I?" achievements. Add in to that some original genius (Irony) and a great set of tiles and they've won over x360a and we're huge fans of this list.
This was by far the toughest category to decide and in all honesty, any of them could have taken home the prize, but the game for us that will be remembered at the end of the day is... The Orange Box. There was just something about the list that made it stand out from all the others and the effort that was put in was simply fantastic. There are so many achievements that stand out in the game that make the list the greatest list to date. Originality... Check... Wide range... Check, Great balance... Check... Humour... Check. A big kudos to the guys at Valve.
Winner: The Orange Box
Most Potential for 2008
That about wraps us this year's Achievement Awards... We've had tears of joy and tears of sorrow. We've had some shock winners and some expected winners but all in all it has been a great journey this year. In the past 12 months, the achievement system has come on leaps and bounds with more and more developers truly realising the potential of this great system. I for one will look forward to next year as I expect it to be bigger and better. Happy achievement hunting folk!