Saturday, 16 January 2010

Getting My Money's Worth

Why don't I ever complete games? And in this day and age of achievements, side-quests, collectibles and online multiplayer goodness, what does it even mean to complete a game? I suppose the standard definition for most games would be to get to the end credits, playing through the main story arc of the game and seeing it to its conclusion. I've managed this a few times in recent years, most notably on all the Guitar Hero games. Though while I've seen the end credits on all of them, there are still plenty of achievements outstanding, I've never finished a tour on expert difficulty or more recently completed the tour for every instrument, so can I really say I've completed any of them?

Some other notable "completions" in the last few years have been Prototype, (still a dozen or so challenge missions to do and loads of orbs to find), and the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series. In the case of these last two, the single player campaign is finish-able in one (admittedly long) session, but getting all the achievements involves playing through on Veteran mode, which is so hard the game stops being fun. Then there's the HUGE multiplayer aspect to the series! Can I truely feel comfortable saying I've finished the game without trying it? Without hitting level 70? Without going into prestige mode at least once? Without hitting 10th Prestige? Without leveling up all the guns and completing all the challenges and earning every single title and emblem the game has to offer? The scary thing about the online play in these games is how much of a time-sink they become, a fact pointed out quite blatantly in the online leaderboards. For example, in MW2 I'm coming towards the end of 1st Prestige and I've spent a total of FIVE AND A HALF DAYS getting there. That's a measure of actual online gaming time mind you. Five and a half of the finite number of days allotted to me playing one computer game. Getting to the end of 10th Prestige is going to take over a MONTH of actual online time at this rate! That's quite a frightening prospect.

Of course, my most recent game completion has also been my most... er, well, complete. Assassin's Creed II saw me finish the main storyline, complete several collecting quests and earn every XBOX achievement along the way. It's still not 100% complete though. There are still a few side missions left in some of the cities, a race here, an assassination there; and that's not to mention the scores of treasure chests left littered about the place. But the question then must be, 'Can I be bothered?'. There aren't any achievements hanging off any of them, and there are plenty of other games sat on my shelf that I'd like to be playing, and as we've already seen, some of them are real time-hogs!

If I look at this list of completions and then look at my shelf of games it strikes me that the completed titles are heavily outweighed by the uncompleted ones, some of which (yes Halo 3 and Gears of War, I'm looking at you) I actually got with the console over two years ago! This then begs the question 'Have I got my money's worth out of these titles?', and the answer surely has to be 'No'. Some of these things are forty quid a pop! That's a lot of money to spend on something that's played once and then put on the shelf never to be touched again.

I'd been thinking about this for a little while anyway, but then I was inspired by Jon Shute over at to actually do something about it. He's set himself the goal of completing all his old games by the end of the year, setting complicated targets for achievement percentages and stuff, and he's got hundreds of games so it's quite a daunting prospect for him. I on the other hand only have 20 or so games in my 'to-do' list. so here are my goals:

By the end of 2010 I aim to have:
end credited all of my old games,
achieved roughly half the achievements for each (100% where possible),
got to the mythical 10th Prestige in Modern Warfare 2.


  1. Seems like a fair enough challange.

    I think that their is a massive problem with games becoming too complex in nature which means it's difficult to obtain that sense of completion.

    Your recent Assassins Creed 2 experience sounds like the developers thought about how people would want to play the game, and how to deliver something enjoyable & challenging but not to the point that it becomes mind numbingly boring.

  2. Yes, AC2 is really well structured, with none of the maddening repetition of the first one. Having treasure chests as one of the collectibles works well, as money is an integral part of the game and always comes in handy. Also, the way the bulk of the achievements are centered around the main story arc means that by the time you've finished it you have so many that you are actually encouraged to go and try to get the rest, something I've not found with any other game so far.