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Road to 100,000 – The Path of Madness

No High Scores

At one point before Christmas break I realized that I had crested the 80,000 Gamerscore peak. I think it was with Driver. Actually, I’m pretty sure it was Driver as I had sworn off of buying new games for the entire month of December so that I could work through my backlog and give my family something to get me for Christmas. Apparently I’m “hard to shop for” as I “buy everything I want” and “don’t give people ideas” and when I do it’s things like “a life time supply of Heath bars” or “a pony”. I have no idea what the achievement was, but one day I went to check my score and I was above 80,000. Woo-hoo for me.

It was at that point when I decided that I needed to make a concerted effort to get to 100,000 points. I don’t know why, but something about seeing how close I was and knowing that with the right combination of drive, GameFly rentals and movie tie-in games I could reach the rarefied air of a six digit score, it made me want to get to that point faster than I would simply by playing whatever piqued my interest.

I also really want donuts…

My friends and I have a tradition at work that when one of the three of us reaches a significant Gamerscore milestone, 50k, 100k, 200k and so on, that person gets donuts. Petey likes Krispy Kreme, but only the fresh ones. I prefer Dunkin Donuts. Hodge’s tastes vary. It’s a way to celebrate a life of sloth, a way to bask in the communal glow of a shared obsession and a way to cram several thousand calories of fat and sugar into our bodies before 8AM. However you slice it, that’s a lot of winning.

Since I got my Xbox I have gone through all of the phases of achievement hunting, from the beginning stages where I didn’t care to the full blown fervor of not adding games to my tag unless I was going to get all of the points to where I am now. I’ve mellowed in my old age and I’m not so rigid as to need to get every point, but I still care about the score, relative to the game. In other words, if they’re easy, I need an A (900 or better). If it’s a hard game, or a game like Gears 3 that has a stack of multiplayer achievements that will only get bigger due to DLC, I tend to not care. In Driver, for example, I got 700 points which represents every single player achievement in the game. I suck at driving games so I was more than thrilled to end up with those points.

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With my eyes set on 100,000, my strategy had to change. There are plenty of sites devoted to achievements and the gaining of them, but I use for a number of reasons. The community is good, things are organized well and best of all, they have a forum post that lists games that are good for a quick and easy 1000 points. In order to be quick and easy it has to a) be easy (duh) and b) be able to be completed by most people in under five hours. I know, I know, is it really an achievement if you can complete a game designed for a third grader in less than five hours? Well, in a “I climbed Mount Everest” way, absolutely not. In a “my score went up so I’m happy” way, you betcha.

So, armed with my list and with a GameFly account, I set out on my path to 100,000 and a box of sweet, sweet donuts. I think I can get there by mid year, which will allow me to mostly play what I want with regular forays into achievement hunting games. I’m not looking to play nothing but crappy games as that’s a good way to burn yourself out and I need to have room for review games, so I think a target of mid-year is both generous enough for success yet aggressive enough to have to work for it. No guts, no glory, no donuts and all that.

So, what have I played thus far? Glad you asked, although you may not be.

Game #1: Transformers: Dark of the Moon This is the movie tie-in game for the last Transformers movie. I’ll be playing a lot of movie-tie in games, but this is the only one from my beloved Transformers franchise. This game, in a word, sucked. The early missions weren’t bad, tasking you with playing as various Autobots on missions in South American jungles as you work towards discovering the latest Decepticon plot. As with all Transformer movie games, the driving sucked, which I simply don’t understand, but the on foot stuff wasn’t bad and the new Stealth Force mode, basically driving with guns, was half-way decent. Once you got to the Decepticon missions though, the fun went right out the window as it was nothing but boring corridor slogs, lots of opportunities to get lost and several timed mission endings where it was all to easy to get stuck and die due to the crappy driving. I thought it would be decent due to the fact that High Moon made it, and they made War for Cybertron. I was wrong.
Time spent: Between five and six hours, and that counted single player and multiplayer.
Number of points: 975/1000
What was left behind: An achievement that required you to kill more dudes than your AI partners in a certain ambush section. I tried like three times and that was enough. Good riddance to Decepticon rubbish.

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Game #2: Megamind: Ultimate Showdown Yet another movie tie-in game, this time based on the Megamind animated movie. I have no idea what the game was about as I skipped every cinematic. Basically Megamind was fighting the Doom Syndicate, whoever they were. For a movie game built for kids, it wasn’t too bad. You run around shoot anything that movies, there are different weapons to use based on the situation and it is incredibly easy. If you die you get dropped in right where you died with no lapse in the action and the game will restrict your weapon usage to what’s needed to progress. Unfortunately, the lower difficulty level made it pretty dang boring. Luckily it was incredibly short.
Time spent: Maybe four hours, probably closer to three.
Number of points: 950/1000
What was left behind: An achievement for defeating the second boss without dying. I wasn’t paying attention to the fight and then it was too late and to try again meant a twenty minute slog back through the sewers. No thank you.

Game #3: Fight Night: Round 3 Now, this is an actual game game, and one that requires a fair amount of skill to succeed at, provided you want to play it the way the developers intended. This is also one of the early 360 games and as such, they had no idea what they were doing with achievements. There are eight of them, an extremely small number compared to today, and you don’t get the first one until a couple of hours into the game. If this game were released today you’d probably get one as soon as you finished creating your boxer, or upon finishing your first fight. Oh how times have changed. So, yeah, boxing is hard and if you were to get these points legitimately, that’d be quite the effort. Luckily you don’t have to get them the right way. What I did was buy two illegal moves, an elbow shot and a low blow, I put the game on easy, turned off illegal blows for the AI and proceeded to nut punch my way to the undisputed welterweight title of the world. Cheating? Yeah, probably, but I gotta tell you, watching your opponent take a slow motion crotch punch absolutely never gets old. I laughed out loud every single time.
Time spent: Five to six hours.
Number of points: 1000/1000
What was left behind: A trail of battered and broken genitalia. Also, a little of my dignity.

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Brandon loves games, which shouldn't be a surprise given where you're reading this. He has written for GameShark, The Escapist and G4, and made them all less relevant as a result.

7 thoughts to “Road to 100,000 – The Path of Madness”

  1. I have a hard time understanding the appeal of Gamerscores, but if it got you to do something as hilarious as nut-punching your way into the World Championship then I guess something good came out of it in the end.

  2. Yeah, while it really doesn’t matter, the score can add a few dimensions to a game that weren’t there before. At first I didn’t care about it, but then sometimes it becomes a way to add life to the game that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. I got the Gold Medal in All Races achievement in Forza 3, which is something most of my friends don’t have. I got the solo tank kill in the Left 4 Dead series, which most of my friends don’t have. Plus, sometimes it makes for an interesting way of killing an evening if you’re looking for something to do. Peruse the achievement lists and see if there’s one or two that you missed that you can go back and try for. Plus if you’re looking for a new game to try out, seeing where high gamer scores are in your friends’ achievement lists can sometimes point you in the right direction.

    And while yes it can be meaningless, at least with one of my friends, I know we keep an eye on each other’s score and try to stay on top. It’s silly, but it’s fun.

  3. I don’t, pardon the pun, have the stones to do this, because I want to beat Fight Night 3 honestly, but I love the idea of a slow-mo knockout punch to the manberries.

    Thank you for that.

  4. Yeah, when implemented properly, Achievements can encourage players to explore game features and strategies they might otherwise overlook.  The Assassin’s Creed games are great about this — I don’t think I’d ever have known Ezio could hurl heavy weapons for instant kills or blind enemies with sand if there weren’t Achievements tied to those milestones.  Games like Singularity, Bioshock 2, and Civilization Revolutions all have rewards for experimenting with every tool at your disposal, ultimately helping to keep things fresh.

    At their worst though, Achievements demand hours of purposeless grinding or blind luck.  Those are the ones I’ll personally tend to skip.

  5. I agree that the Achievements themselves when well implemented can introduce new ways to play a game or add new interesting challenges to the game. It’s the aggregation of all these achievements into a general score that puzzles me as the number itself doesn’t seem to have a lot of meaning behind it.

    Does a high gamerscore in a game mean the person’s player the game a lot? That he’s enjoyed his time with it? That he farmed it because it was an easy game to get achievements in? I guess in the end what’s missing for me is the context of what that number actually means. It’s not like a high score in a game that represents how well you’ve mastered the system.

    In the end I assume it just shows that you like to play a lot of games?

  6. It can show a number of things, most based on the questions you brought up. There are some, like the ones I mentioned earlier, that can serve as bragging rights like the solo tank kill, while others simply showed you liked the game enough to play it a lot like the Forza one. The only real meaning you get out of it is what you put to it. I’ve scanned friends’ achievement lists looking for other titles to try out, as another example. If I see one in there that seems like it might involve a heavy time commitment, then it’s one I’ll likely pull a review or two to research. Clearly they enjoyed the game enough to invest the time in it.

    And yes, it can definitely show that I just played a lot of games. Maybe a sort of achievement classification would be nice. Some skill based, some time based, and some thrown in just because. Most companies usually throw in a mix of this anyway, so a label wouldn’t really be that out of line.

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