So – I fire up Gears of War on the 360 on a Friday afternoon in order to help a mate in the US out with his Seriously Achievement… only to discover that I was a day early. “No problems,” I laughed, “anything else you need help with?”
And so we started a little bit of contrived card-playing in Texas Hold’em, earning him a $900,000 – and an Achievement – in the process.
And then we started Robotron.
Now – Robotron is a tricky game. Rock-hard. But there was one seemingly gettable Achievement outstanding; Versus. “Play on Xbox Live Ranked VERSUS and gain the rank of 5.”
Gain the rank of 5? What the hell does that mean? Get a TrueSkill rank of 5? ‘Cos that would be pretty easy.
Hell no. It means “get to the 5th position (or better) on the Live Ranked Versus leaderboard”. That’s an all-time leaderboard. But, of course, it’s based on TrueSkill, so it’s open to a little bit of abuse… and abuse it we did. At one point, one of my alter-egos – BraveMite6103 – was ranked second in the world, before sacrificing his position to my mate DangerSlave – Achievement unlocked. And then it was my turn… unfortunately, due to previous Robotron whoring, it wasn’t quite so simple for me. A bit more elbow-grease was required – but I was happy to provide it. A couple of hours later, and it was done… many thanks to DangerSlave’s son, BraveMite6103, the amazing JasmineBore393, and NightPayload116. We couldn’t have done it without them.
Danger’s Gears whoring the next day was successful, too, with his Seriously unlocking around the 11,000 mark. And that, coupled with the completion of another playthrough of Gears on Casual, will hopefully mark the final time I ever touch that disc. It will not be missed, but there’s more to be written about that later.
But the bulk of the last week has been spent playing Enslaved. It’s a staggeringly beautiful game, with some of the best mo-cap and facial animation I’ve ever seen. The voice acting, too, is incredible, but the gameplay… hmmm. I’m not sure there actually is any gameplay.
OK… so that’s a bit facetious. But my first playthrough – as usual, on Easy – proved to be astonishingly unchallenging. Combat was straight button mashing, and the platforming elements seemed to be entirely on-rails and impossible to fail. And the lack of challenge created an emotional disconnect between myself and the otherwise wonderful storyline… and that feels like a massive missed opportunity.
However, I’m about halfway through a playthrough on Hard… and it’s a bit more challenging (the challenge, of course, being significantly reduced by the carry-over accumulation of power-ups). And some parts are almost too difficult now, to the point of unfairness – the Dog chase sequence has a time limit that’s tighter than a duck’s chuff. But I’m persevering, and I’m not hating it… so that’s nice.