Hello again!

I opted not to post anything last week because… well, it’s going to be a bit boring for the next month or so, I reckon. That’s mainly because my gaming has become dominated by the Uncharted series, with a single-player Trophy spree on Uncharted 3, and lots of Uncharted 2 multiplayer – chasing DLC Trophies.

Whilst there’s nothing really to report on the Drake’s Deception playthrough (apart from a realisation that it really wants to be a movie, rather than a game), there’s been much more action Among Thieves. A new friend, met during last week’s boosting session, asked if I’d help him and a buddy out on a Hard Co-op level. Thinking it’d be a fun way to make some ranking-up cash, I agreed… and, after we pushed through that level with considerable ease, we upped the difficulty to Crushing. There was a bit of nail-biting, but slow-and-steady won the race (eventually)… and a Trophy was unlocked.

Those two guys generously offered to help me out with a few other Trophies, too, with one turning the somewhat tricky Gold Rush into a piece-of-piss. It was bloody brilliant fun, even if I did feel incredibly guilty that they were carrying my ageing skills through proceedings; Uncharted 2‘s Co-op really is good stuff.

But then comes the regular online multiplayer components and their associated Trophies, most of which are of the “perform [something] in [some mode]” variety. The grindiest (look, a new word!) of them is Cold Blooded – kill 2500 enemies in Deathmatch or Elimination games. Whilst not as daunting as Gears of War‘s Seriously, it was pretty demoralising early on to go into games (with my lowly rank emblem like a beacon) and maybe only get three kills under my belt… if I was lucky. But I’m over a thousand kills now, and the last few days has seen a noticeable improvement in my game; whilst I still aim to get six kills a game, I’ve recently started hitting double-figures pretty regularly. This is having a pleasing effect on my spreadsheet-of-stuff-to-do… does it really surprise anyone that I have such a spreadsheet?

The dark side of Uncharted 2, though, is the boosting. Whilst I’m happy eking out my kills in a legitimate manner, there’s some Trophies that I know I’d never attain through normal play; off to a boosting session I thus go. And I’ve mentioned before how disappointing the PSN-based boosting community is: TrueAchievements really has spoiled my expectations with its vast array of boosting session setup options and – more importantly – accountability for its users. It’s a rare occurrence that 360 boosting partners don’t bother turning up, or fail to co-operate during the session; they know that doing so will result in negative feedback that is visible to all future boosting partners.

There’s no such service (that I’ve found) on any of the PSN satellite sites. Thus, when only four people of nine supposedly committed players turned up to one session, I was a bit peeved. Of the four that did turn up, two immediately leapt into another game (“I’m not wasting my time waiting for others”), delaying any potential start; their selfish nature helped push the “start” time out by forty-five minutes. The ragged nature of the hours that followed also had me biting my lip; the loudest people with headsets refused to read the chat session that was in use, and frequently misled the rest of the group. Misogynist comments abound; griefing occurred whenever one of the braggarts didn’t get what he wanted.

It’s really quite demoralising, and – as I indicated above – a stark contrast to the dedication that one tends to find in a 360boosting session. It makes me want to just get these tricky Trophies out of the way and leave these people behind; seven Triple Threat medals, and a bunch of Plunder captures, and I’ll be happily flying solo, leaving the thought of those selfish shits behind.

There were a couple of other games that got a look-in over the last fortnight, too; there was a brief return to the Zelda franchise via Skyward Sword‘s Hero Mode (still caught in the interminably long tutorial section). But I also thought I’d start tackling the Master Challenges of Shadow Complex – in-game Achievements that have no gamerscore associated with them. After finding a decent walkthrough video that demonstrates a decent route through the Complex, I figured it would be a piece of piss; unfortunately, I seemed to have completely forgotten how to actually play the game. Progress was slow and stilted… and off-putting. Shadow Complex returned to the back-burner.

So that’s me. I’ve got 1036/2500 Cold Blooded kills, and I want many more… it’s a long term project, spurred on by the fact that it was a Resolution. But, once I shake clear of the Bad People, it’s also an immensely fun project… and one that seems to be indicating that I still have the capacity to learn how to improve my play.

Which makes me feel… well, less old.

My 2012 Gaming Resolutions

So… Gaming Resolutions, eh? These are rapidly becoming a bit of a joke with me.

Every year I present a collection of commitments, any of which in isolation look completely manageable, and every year I fail to satisfy those commitments. Every year, I plan to pare The List down, and every year it is merely whittled.

And, more to the point, every year I feel myself drifting further away from the mainstream gamer. As I write this, I’m listening to Giant Bomb’s 2011 Deliberations, and I’ve played precisely zero of their Top Ten. True, I want to play Saints Row: The Third, Bastion, and Portal 2, and they’ll undoubtedly be picked up next year, but still… none of them.

With that in mind, let’s have a look at last year’s Resolutions…

…to leave 2011 with The List pared back to 50. No shit. I’ve just pulled that number out of my arse, and I’m sticking to it.

Verdict: Fail. The List currently sits at 67. So that’s actually a Big Fail.

…to keep on top of stuff obtained through the year. Again. Last year’s goal of 50% was completely reasonable, yet I missed it. Try harder!

Verdict: Thirteen new games appeared this year; seven of those were off The List by year’s end. Success!

…to make an impact on every platform. Again. But do it this time!

Verdict: Fail fail faility fail. The only platforms that were touched were the Wii (and I only just scraped that in), 360, PS3, and DS. Sounds like a comprehensive FAIL.

…to clear up some of the doubles. This will feed in nicely to the pruning of The List indicated above; after all, I’ve got two copies of No More Heroes 2. Three copies of Jet Set Radio! Two copies of Ikaruga… ummm, let’s not fret about that one too much ;)

Verdict: Gimme an “F”. Gimme an “A”. Gimme an “I”. Gimme an “L”. What does it spell? petee.

…to clear up some of the lingering 360 titles. There’s a bunch of games in which I’ve acquired all the Achievements, but haven’t crossed off The List. Ninety-Nine Nights needs a bit of OCD collection lovin’, Rez needs some 100% levels. Let’s get some of those wrapped up, yeah?

Verdict: What starts with “F”, and sounds like “tail”? That’s right – me.

Clearly, 2011 was outright shithouse in terms of Resolution adherence. So what do I do – choose more resolutions that look attainable, then dismally fail yet again? Or do I pare down expectations somewhat?

Let’s find out…

In 2012, I resolve…

  • …to leave 2012 with The List pared back to… 64. Yep, the same target as two years ago. Soft, but – on previous efforts – pretty unlikely.
  • …to (still) keep on top of stuff obtained through the year. 50% is fine, since it means that some of the back catalogue is getting wrapped up.
  • …to knock Perfect Dark Zero, Skyward Sword, Uncharted 2, and Halo: Anniversary off The List.
  • …to beat Luxor 2‘s Normal skill level.
  • …to make some inroads on both WipEout HD and F-Zero GX. Racing ahoy!
  • …to clear up some of the lingering 360 titles… fo’ real this time. Ninety-Nine Nights, Rez, Shadow Complex.
  • …to break at least 500 GS in Child of Eden.
  • …to play something new; something outside the stuff I know I like. To take a risk!

So there you have it – my targets for the next year. Fewer broad sweeping statements, and more focus on the current generations (because there’s a technological change a-comin’, kids).

And, cut’n’pasting a line from previous years… What are your Gaming Resolutions for 2012?


Well, my Gaming Mojo still appears to be missing a little bit, with distractions like my upcoming move into a new Moobaarn and a certain girl commandeering huge chunks of my time. But I’m forcing myself to push on with my gaming; luckily, my current selections lend themselves to that particular absent-minded approach.

Zelda: Twilight Princess is the main focus at the moment, and it’s proving to be perfect brain-off, plodding-progress gaming. I’m about 34 hours in on my second playthrough, halfway through the second “quest” of the game, and it’s proving to be enjoyable enough – though, almost necessarily, not nearly as emotionally engaging as my first encounter. Though, surprisingly, it’s proving to be much easier than I remember; I wonder how much of this is due to my familiarity with the Wii controls now, as opposed to launch-day nervous excitement?

My good mate Spencer finally got a free night for some Achievement whoring, so we organised an interstate Xbox Live play-date and managed to rack up a plethora of ranked online wins to clean up my online Achievements for Brütal Legend. A spot of single-player AI battling, a perusal of all the Tour Diary and Concept Art entries, and boom – that’s another one off The List. Sixty-nine to go.

A bit of sporting – and hilarious – card divulging saw my penultimate Texas Hold’em Achievement fall, thanks to Spencer’s help. And there was a little single-player thrashing of Shadow Complex, too, leaving me just one-and-a-half XP levels shy of my final Achievement there; unfortunately, that one has a series of “internal” Achievements which I feel I must satisfy before crossing it off The List, and those tasks are… daunting.

So – an uninspired entry, this one. I may well ease up over the next few weeks; the Big Move is about a month away, there’s much fussing to be done before then, and every entry is likely to read “Mopey. Did a bit of grinding. Got some stuff done. Hurrah.” Christ, even I don’t like reading that sort of stuff over and over, and it’s my bloody blog! ;)

Tapering Off…

I should be winding down at the moment; tapering off my gaming a little, in preparation for my regular assault on the Adelaide Fringe (and, since this is an even year, the Adelaide Festival of the Arts). I set myself the task of writing a little something about every show I see and, since I tend to be a little… ummm… greedy with what I choose to see, that equates to a lot of blogging. Which means I often get bogged down and tend to put things off a little. For example, I only finished writing about the last show of 2009 – from 22 March – last weekend.

But that’s something for my other blog – this one’s reserved for gaming. And, as I opened, I should be winding down.

Should be.

Instead, this week a little Achievement-hunting gremlin crawled inside my skull and started wreaking havoc. Not content with wrapping up the remaining goals from Portal, I started hunting for other easy points; Shadow Complex obliged with a couple of easy Achievements, leaving a little bit of grinding for the one remaining cheevo (and an awful lot of practise for the Master Challenges). One of my old gaming chums helped out with a bit of Texas Hold’em whoring (and he still owes me a million dollars or so – right, Spencer? ;)

Another friend was keen to wrap up a few games, so I returned to Burnout Paradise for a quick run around Big Surf Island, and a little bit of cops & robbers. We followed that with a blast through Jetpac Refuelled, followed by some Brütal Legend multiplayer hijinks. All up, he snaffled 270 points – not bad for a couple of hours’ work.

A return to ODST‘s Firefight mode with the old crew yielded a ton of fun… well, fun and panic and swearing, anyway. And no Achievements. But it was a timely reminder that there is much fun left in that title, which seems to have fallen off the radar markedly, what with all the Mass Effects and Modern Warfare 2s and Bayonettas of the world. A bit of a shame, that.

So, as demonstrated above, my “winding down” has proved to be one of the most varied and frenetic weeks in a year or two… and I’ve just got an e-mail from Play-Asia to say that my copy of No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle is on its way. Oh, and I managed to find a copy of the out-of-print Bayonetta Witch of Vigrid coffee-table book (lovely, but overpriced) and the Climax Bible (which, despite the fact that I can’t read a single glyph of anything Japanese, is wonderful – lovely glossy presentation & chock-full of information). And I also pre-ordered Bayonetta and Jeanne figures. Because hey, my mortgage payments are going to be dented by the Fringe anyway, right?

And so I bid you (all four regular readers, anyway) adieu for a month or so. The Festivals wrap on March 14, so expect some sleep-deprived ramblings about the joys of Shinobu and Travis’ return sometime thereafter. Game on!

Bayonetta’s ShadowPortal

This week began as the previous couple did: with the glorious Bayonetta. I’m still utterly smitten with both the lady and her game, and managed to polish off not only a run through the Non-Stop Infinite Climax difficulty, but all the Alfheim Portals as well – leading to all the Achievements associated with the game being unlocked, and my overall GamerScore just sneaking above 92% (23,867 of a possible 25,940). Hurrah!

But that’s not the end of Bayonetta, oh no – there’s a small matter of unlocking the additional characters, and performing complete runs with those, too… and a little obstacle called Angel Slayer, a bonus level unlocked once all the Alfheim levels were completed. To say that Angel Slayer is tricky is an understatement; there’s fifty-one individual “rooms” in the level, and I’ve successfully managed to beat twelve of them.

So there’s a bit of work left to do there, then ;)

After a friend pointed out that Portal: Still Alive was the XBLA deal of the week, I decided to buy it and see what I’d been missing. You see, I’ve played precious little of this much-lauded game: a few quick levels when the demo was first released on XBLA had been my entire experience, even though I knew full well that the game didn’t really get going until the late-teen levels.

So – time to rectify this (supposed) gaping hole in my gaming experience.

…blimey, that last level is pretty special, isn’t it?

To be fair, my experience with Portal is probably a little compromised because of all the hype that preceded it; there was no way it could possibly have matched the frothing exaltations and Game-of-the-Year nominations. Yes, it’s a wonderfully unique experience, but it’s more of an amusé than a banquet, a fact that it seems to accept and revel in. And really, there’s only five levels of content there – but, as I alluded to before, that last level is certainly worth experiencing.

Finally this week was a return to Shadow Complex to complete a 100% items run. It was pretty easy on Hardcore and, when the going got tough in some select boss battles, I simply dropped the difficulty down momentarily – a feature which I hope many more games take advantage of. Dunno how I’m going to manage that ChAIRness internal Achievement, though.

Of course, it’s rapidly approaching that games-free time of year for me – there’s less than a fortnight before the start of the Adelaide Fringe. And I’ve only just finished writing up last year’s events!


Post-blogging last week, I started a run-through of Shadow Complex on Insane… blimey! That’s a tricky bugger. Consulting online guides indicated that the usual plan of attack on that difficulty level involves the early acquisition of one of the Golden Guns… which, in turn, are only unlocked after a 100% run-through of the game. Which, of course, I had buggered up by not acquiring a particular item before a certain game event. Which is a bit annoying, I must say. I soldiered on as much as I could, before dropping the difficulty down a notch… or two. Efforts will be ongoing with Shadow Complex, I think; even more so, given the extra internal achievements – including the implausible 100%-ing Insane in less than 3 hours.

But enough about that; this week was really all about Bayonetta. Waaaaay back in May last year, I wrote the following:

To be honest, though, my mind has been more focussed on a game that’s still some months off: Bayonetta. Ever since I first laid eyes on the initial teaser trailer, I’ve been gagging for more goodies from Platinum – and they’ve delivered some delicious tidbits on the complexities of modelling Bayonetta’s arse. Now, I’m a bit of a fan of a bit of female protagonist posterior, and Bayonetta backs that up with some nutball looking action – I can’t wait.

And, ever since then, anticipation fuelled expectation and led to a game that I had hyped to the max in my own head.

But you know what?

My expectations – and hence, the hype – have been absolutely met.

Bayonetta is lush. There is so much spit-and-polish on the entire package that it gleams. It oozes style and class – and, most overtly, sexuality. Hideki Kamiya has most certainly succeeded in his desire to create a sexy witch, and the engine-driven cinematics (as well as the demon-invoking incantation scenettes) really flaunt Bayonetta’s gorgeous form – sometimes embarrassingly so. Certainly, this is targeted at a more adolescent market than the one I’m supposed to be in, but believe me – I’m not complaining.

The action is fast and furious, and every chapter managed to elicit a genuine exclamation of “what the fuck??!?” There’s plenty of fan-service – not only for those eager to view the female form, but also more senior game players, with cheeky and good-natured homage paid to previous Sega properties. Sure, there’s a few sticking points – the final boss battle had be a bit exasperated and backtracking for goodies, leading to a fair amount of item whoring in my Normal playthrough of 31 hours (Kamiya reckons the first playthrough should be about ten-to-twelve hours) but I admit to having a big sloppy grin on my face for the vast majority of it. The second playthrough (on the very aptly named Very Easy difficulty) was a spot over six hours; item and skill acquisitions are preserved, which should be the break I need to be able to get through the Hard and Non-Stop Infinite Climax (yes, that really is the name) difficulties. However, some of the tasks required to unlock goodies in-game verge on the silly; finish Normal in less than three hours? Get Platinum medals for every chapter? Dreaming.

It’s by no means a perfect game – for some inexplicable reason, the camera speed defaults to mogadon mode, which frustrated me immensely until I poked around the menus a bit. The narrative aspect of the game is also lacking; the opening exposition takes place during an inconsequential battle (yes, I know I raved about how No More Heroes does almost the same thing, but this just didn’t seem to work), and the story itself is a little… ermmm… odd. But there’s so much Good Stuff in Bayonetta that drowns those criticisms out; cheeky laughs and flirty winks, humour a-plenty, and some of the most bizarre battles I’ve ever seen.

And much more besides, but I’ll not mention that for the moment – it’s still too soon. I’ve been blessed by folks who got me one of my copies a couple of days early, so I accept that there are many who’ve yet to experience the glory of Bayonetta. But I implore you – play through on Normal. Watch all of the credit sequences. There’s some fantastic stuff in there :D


Hot on the heels of my 2010 Gaming Resolutions, I’ve managed to knock a couple of games off The List already. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass was conquered in little more than a week, starting on Christmas Day and being wrapped up on the second day of the New Year. All ship parts were obtained (using massive whoring of the Temple of the Ocean King), and I also learned to love the archery mini-game. I even managed to catch a stowfish!

Late December saw Microsoft offer some discounts on Xbox Live goodies, so I bought Shadow Complex sight-unseen. Initially impressive, I’m now suffering some buyer’s remorse – the first hour is thrilling stuff, but thereafter it manages to feel like a bit of a grind. There’s something about the presentation of the game that also triggers memories of Undertow – fair enough, I guess, with Chair Entertainment responsible for both titles – but that also reminded me at how underappreciated that game was. Chair needs to work on their character models, too – some of the cutscenes were terrifying. I’ve since had nightmares about Claire’s teeth.

Another impromptu purchase was The Maw, which utterly charmed me in its demo form. A beautiful, concise game, it only took a handful of hours to 100% the game… but it was perfectly weighted.

So there you have it. Two games done. Short and sweet, since I’m not really in a writing mood. Next week, however… Bayonetta. I’ve been waiting for this game since the very first trailer, I’m going to be completely crap at it… but I’ll love every second :)