Tuesday, March 11, 2008

You Challenge Me?

This past month, I was involved in a gamerscore challenge called "You challenge me?"  This gave me an opportunity to put my gamerscore whoring to the test, as well as find some new games that I might not have otherwise played.

As luck would have it, my son just happened to decide to use the free game rental he got for Christmas on the game Open Season. So, to start off the challenge, I found a good FAQ on the Internet and set to work for the first thousand points. I only have vague memories of the movie. I saw it while I was in the hospital recovering from an appendectomy, and my attempts at watching it while my kids came to visit were interrupted by my falling in and out of consciousness. As such, I can't say for certain how faithfully the game follows the movie plot. It did seem familiar...

In any case, the game was fairly unremarkable. It had pretty simple gameplay, although there were a few achievements that weren't so easy to get, even with the FAQ at my side. The ones that stand out in particular in my memory were those that involved getting a certain score on levels where your forward motion was uncontrolled — sliding down a mountain or racing down a river on an outhouse. (?) Otherwise, as I said, pretty unremarkable. You could tell it was put together without a big budget. The menus aren't the easiest to navigate, and for some reason, while most of the movie scenes are recreated with the unimpressive yet capable game engine, the touching final moment is done as a slideshow of stills from the actual movie. If they couldn't have done full video, they should've just stuck with the game engine. Totally ruined the effect.

The next big rental was my own, and it was TMNT. I liken this to a low-impact Prince of Persia. The game is petty straightforward, and so are the achievements. Although I had a FAQ with me, it turns out it was completely unnecessary. Almost all achievements unlock just by playing the game. Unfortunately, I haven't seen the movie so I can't comment on its accuracy to that plot at all. It was good, simple, ninja turtle fun. Not a whole lot else to say about it.

Fellow Awesome Possum member Hyperdive was kind enough to support me in my quest. He mailed me his copy of the game TimeShift, and Maizrim added his support by helping me boost a few of the multiplayer achievements. Granted, I only got a taste of this game's potential, but this could easily ft into the same category as Shadowrun — a shooter with some unique elements that really set it apart and make it interesting, unfortunately overlooked by the community at large.

The last day of the challenge was really interesting. Ahead by only 500-some points, I was at work, watching the second-place challenger going through TMNT. I stopped by Blockbuster on my way home and found a used copy of NBA 2k6 for sale cheap. I knew the 2006 sports games were rather infamous for easy achievements. I also decided, since that would put me back up by only 500 (assuming she finished TMNT and I finished NBA 2k6), to rent Avatar. This game has the dubious honor of granting 1000 gamerscore for a mere 5 minutes of play. I felt it prudent insurance, in case the other player had something else up her sleeve after she finished TMNT.

NBA 2k6 reminded me of why I don't play sports games anymore. On the default settings, I watched what should have been easy shots miss, and the computer be unstoppable. When he can hit anything covered by 3 men and I can't hit closer shots wide open with statistically better players, the game just isn't fun. Fortunately, you can tweak the settings to ridiculous levels, and the game is a mindless blowout. As far as achievements go, I wish I had a camera to snap a picture for the end of the game, when the notification popped up: "Achievements Unlocked — 5 for 1000G"

For the rest of the night, I kept watch on the second player's profile. She finally finished TMNT with about a half hour to go... and then, she put in Avatar and picked up a quick 1000 points to gain the lead. It turned out that my insurance paid off. I put in my own copy of Avatar with about 15 minutes to spare and earned my own 1000 points, countering her last-minute cheap shot and winning the challenge.

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