A new phenomenon has befallen the video game industry as of late. And no I'm not talking about Natal, PlayStation Move or 3D gaming (the former two warranting the death penalty in the ‘hardcore gaming constitution'). I mean those little trinkets we hold in such high esteem - trophies/achievements.
Before I begin, let me say that I do not hate trophies (just pretend I'm writing achievements as well - I'm not going to write them both every time...). I've lost many hours of my life because of gold trophies - those things that majestically pop up in the top-right of your screen, that sound like a fairy just opened her magic tool box. And now that every game has to have them, there have been more than a few fairies making love to my ego. While it is nice that trophies provide more incentive to keep playing a game (and even get inventive), sometimes I wish they weren't there.
I recently finished Modern Warfare 2 early this year. After I'd completed the game twice (once on veteran), I looked at my trophy collection and thought ‘wow, I haven't actually finished it yet'. It's a very sad thing to say, because when you look back at your library of shiny images and see all the missing pieces, you feel like you have to obtain the rest before you've actually ‘clocked it'. On the flip side, not getting all the trophies gives the impression the game somehow resents you for it - which again is ridiculous. If someone says you haven't really finished a game because you didn't kill seven chickens in ten seconds - then it would be completely normal to nail their hand to a railway!
So they feel like a burden at times. And last I checked, gaming was meant to feel like a chore. This is why I enjoyed Eternal Sonata. I could venture through the game without worrying about the award ceremony. When I finished it, I felt absolutely no desire to play through a second time to find the hidden dungeon (which definitely sounds like it would be a trophy). Older titles like this are a blessing to play simply for that reason. I don't feel pressured by the development team to achieve their arbitrary tasks, and I don't have to plan out my trophies like a schedule designed by a dictator.
Maybe its personal guilt. Maybe its our hardcore gaming ethics or our perfectionism to get everything done - but it's good to have a break once in a while. Laying back and enjoying the game for what it is brings back memories of simpler days. Accusing other people of not finishing Sonic the Hedgehog because they didn't have any proof was part of the fun. At best the only reward you got were the credits. Final Fantasy XIII surprised me when it awarded background themes for my PS3, every time I unlocked a high-end trophy. If only more games did this, then we'd all have a reason to get them outside of shear manly pride.
Let's take trophies/achievements for the fun that they are, and remember that we are no less ‘hardcore' if our gamerscore is below 50,000...
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