One of the greatest new features of the Microsoft Xbox 360 has to be the achievements system. Earning points and unlocking achievements for playing games in a certain way has really changed the way I personally play games.
I was always happy to play a game on the ‘normal’ difficulty settings, however since achievements now push you to play on harder settings (such as Call of Duty 2), I find myself coming back to run through the game just to unlock a few more precious achievements. Just yesterday I passed 10,000 overall gamerscore, which inspired me to reflect on the benefits and downfalls of achievements.
The system isn’t perfect though, as it can be quite easily cheesed by carefully configuring game options. Every developer also seems to have their own take of how the achievements should work, which sometimes is great, or just allows for frustration to set in. Let’s take a game like Perfect Dark Zero, where you are can unlock achievements from a huge list. This is quite fun, but I find there are just too many for anyone to be bothered to compare them with their own. Then there are other games like FIFA World Cup Germany 2006, which have an achievement worth a staggering 500 points, which is far too hefty for a single achievement to be worth.
A game can also be branded badly by achievements if they are easy to unlock. Peter Jackson’s King Kong – The Official Game of the Movie (How long is that title!!) is now recognised as nothing more than an easy 1000 point achievements game, which means renting just to unlock all the points rather than enjoying the gameplay experience. Of course there are always going to be statistic whores, who will rent or buy every game just to expand their total gamer points, however it soon becomes pretty obvious who will in fact go that far.
Regardless of all of this though, it has changed my gaming habits completely and that is all credit to the ideas from Microsoft and the implementation of most developers.