A Grim Realisation

In the middle of the protracted writing session that produced last week’s blog post, I had an impromptu visit from my brother and his son. I’ve mentioned my nephew a few times on this blog, often wanting to use our twenty-eight-year age gap as a (hopefully) interesting contrast in attitudes. After he mocked me because his PSN profile level was higher than mine – Level 6, 83% versus Level 6, 13% – I pointed out the fact that he had four times as many games on his profile as I did. In doing so, I was challenging him to play like me – and that, in retrospect, was a pretty silly thing to do. After all, he should feel free to play games the way he wants, finding the joy he wants… I should just be a guiding force, not a dictator.

But his goading triggered a competitive spark in me, and I quickly wrapped up most of the remaining Trophies for Flower and Journey early in the week. Then, during a moment of procrastination (and somewhat prompted by the fact that my nephew claims – he’s got a habit of cheating occasionally – to have beaten the game on Hard), I flitted over my 2012 Resolutions and started considering at my commitment to knock Uncharted 2 off The List. So I started digging around a bit to see what I’d be happy with… I was thinking all Trophies (naturally), as well as all multiplayer add-ons – boosters, skins, et al. You know, all the game had to offer.

Now, I was well aware that the multiplayer components required a fair bit of work – the Trophies, especially, would probably need some significant boosting. Some perusal of various PS3 community sites led me to believe that the support for boosting Trophies is… well, almost non-existent; still, the challenge of forming a reasonable boosting crew wasn’t daunting at all. To get things started, I popped online midweek for a bit of multiplayer action… and failed to find a game. There didn’t seem to be anyone still playing.

And then I started looking at the character skins… and my hopes plummeted. Some of the skins only became available at Level 80 – eighty! – and that, quite frankly, is a bridge too far. With my current rank stuck somewhere around Level 14 (with maybe $300,000 earned), and knowing that the levels between 60 and 80 required fifteen million dollars apiece, Level 80 felt like it would require many Seriouslys worth of effort.

I came to the grim realisation that my ideal Uncharted 2 completion would be bloody difficult. This was further backed up when I discovered that a number of skins were one-offs – only available for participants in special events, or as rewards for selected offers. It became apparent that there was no way to get them all regardless of the (seemingly impossible) Level 80 requirement.

My goal was, thus, impossible to achieve.

And, of course, my incredibly mature reaction to that realisation was to mentally throw my toys from the pram. “Fuck it,” I thought, “why bother with this stuff at all? What should my goal really be?”

So I started thinking about what would make me happy with all this content-experiencing stuff that I like to do. I can’t escape Achievements and Trophies, that’s for sure – there’s too many numbers associated with them to allow me that freedom. But if I were to accept that the primary reason I buy these games is for the single-player content, than can I dismiss any extended multiplayer hijinks?

There’s so much that’s appealing in that premise: imagine being able to give Uncharted 3‘s multiplayer only the barest of investigations. Imagine being able to write off Halo: Reach‘s horrendously convoluted Commendations! It’s a tantalising idea, but not one I can commit to… yet. I’m still ruminating on whether I can, in good conscience, accept such a shifting of goalposts.

But, speaking of Uncharted 3, I also wandered online to play a bit more of it’s multiplayer modes. The difference between it and its immediate predecessor are enormous, as is the skill levels of the players that inhabit those worlds; but I found a fun pastime in playing co-op missions in both Uncharteds, yielding minor Level increases (now up to 17 and 11, respectively).

And – deep breath – I also fired up Perfect Dark Zero for the first time in years. It’s really not a friendly game, is it? The introductory level on the easiest difficulty setting was all I could stomach; completing that game is going to be a real test of mettle. But there was one really nice thing about playing PDZ again: the opening movie is the first game-related thing I ever saw on my (then) brand new 360… my introduction to this generation, if you will. And, as a big fan of the Bond franchise, I was immediately sucked in by the movie, and even today it still generates genuine excitement in me.

Pity about the game behind it, though.

Finally, this week I had cause to buy a new Wii – and, in a vain attempt to future-proof, I wanted one of the old-style units with Gamecube compatibility (my Gamecube is really tetchy with my F-Zero GX disc, whereas my Wii has never locked up with it, so I figured I’d play all my GC games on the Wii in the future). The only new Wii unit I could find was a Mario Kart bundle… so now I own Mario Kart Wii, a somewhat unwanted – but not unappreciated – addition to The List. After being staggered that the copyright notice on the title screen says that it was released in 2008 – nearly four years ago, now! – I settled in and played the first Cup – with the Wheel, naturally. It feels good: solid, playful. But I know it’s going to be a List-dweller, though I may grant myself some leeway with regards to three-starring all Cups.

And, just to be sure of the unit’s quality, I played F-Zero GX again. Two attempts at the easiest Cup on the easiest difficulty: the Blue Falcon took me to five straight wins. The Wild Goose, on the other hand, was a twitchy fucker that I never had any semblance of control over. That game will also be a perpetual List-dweller.

The next week? Well, Wednesday should see me claiming the last of my Flower and Journey Trophies, and I’m almost finished with my second play through of Saints Row: The Third (after being stymied by a missing Stunt Jump). But then what? More tortuous PDZ, or Uncharted 2? Or maybe the tasty treat of Ico that I’ve got waiting in the wings?

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