Fighting the pile of shame

I can’t win. I’ve come to accept this now, but the world will always defeat me. Can everybody just stop making games for a year or two so I can catch up?

My pile of shame is staggering. I wrote a little app to parse various websites that contain my owned games like Steam and trophy/achievement info on consoles and the number came up as over 600 (feel free to feel superior for having more or less, either works). I then went through and checked off which games I had actually completed, a task that was only possible because of achievements and trophies telling me I had completed games that I had forgotten existed. I came to the conclusion that I had completed (as in saw the end credits, nothing crazy) a grand total of about 40% of console games and considerably less of PC games. The reason for the difference is of course Steam sales and the “I might want to play that one day” or “£2? How can I not buy it for that much even though I own it on a console already and it’s a notoriously bad port” madness that those sales bring.

I don’t think that 40% is good enough so I’m going to improve that. In an ideal world 100% would be the only acceptable number, but I’m not quite that insane yet. I’ve done this in previous years, which is why I’m at the giddy heights of 40%, but this year I want to get past 50.

I actually began at the start of the year, but since I actually seem to be getting somewhere with it I thought I’d better document it so I don’t forget. The rules are simple. Seeing the credits mean completion and if I’ve been dumb enough to buy a game on multiple platforms then I damn well have to complete it several times to teach myself a lesson. I also don’t have to complete games that don’t have a suitable win state, so I’m not including MMOs and the like.

Game 1: Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3)

This is something I picked up on PS3 several years ago due to it being very cheap at the time and having the exclusive Joker content. Completing it took less than an hour as I’d almost played it all the way through, but involved two of the worse boss fights in the game so I was too grumpy to actually play the damn content I actually got the game for. The PS3 version is mostly notable for having a different camera angle on Batman than the other versions, the sole reason seemingly just so that he takes up more of the screen and makes it more annoying to play.

I’ve now completed this game on three platforms. Somebody will use this as evidence of my insanity sometime in the future, but they would be wrong as it’s the best Batman game so far and if you haven’t played it then you’re probably the one who is insane. Or you don’t like Metroidvania inspired versions of Batman, which when I think about it is probably more likely.

Game 2: Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD (PS3)

This is another game that I’ve been playing on another platform, but it’s a much better experience on a large screen rather than on the Vita and so I actually completed it just after it released. For some reason “proper” games just don’t feel right to me on a handheld.

It’s too short, graphically underwhelming and misses the chances to be great at every opportunity. When it’s cheap on a Steam deal it’ll be well worth a look, so keep an eye out in the next sale. I’m not sure it’s worth the £15 they currently want though.

Game 3: Journey (PS3)

This is a visually attractive journey through a desert with a score that I love and gameplay that is, to put it politely, primitive. You find yourself repeatedly collecting things to open up a way out of an area just so you can do the same thing with a slightly different area. There is some variation as eventually the sand gets replaced with snow (spoiler!). The attraction comes from the multiplayer which joins you up with fellow players with no indication of who they are and no proper way to communicate. It turns out that when you do this players default to being nice to each other and try to help you when you appear stuck on what to do next. It really restores your faith in people online in a way that no other game really can, which makes it An Important Game in my book. At the very end of the game it tells you who you played with, which is nice.

I just can’t remember why I only got half way through when it released, but it was probably the repetitive nature and something else coming out.

Game 4: Need for Speed: Most Wanted (PS3)

PlayStation+ is my enemy. I hate it with a passion for the constant stream of games that it puts in front of me that I just have to play. I’d played this on 360 when it came out, but since it was the closest we’ll ever get to Burnout Paradise 2 (seriously, rename it and nobody would know) when it came up on PS+ I downloaded it and have been messing around in it ever since. I remembered that there was actually a game that could be completed in there so ran through all the most wanted cars quite quickly.

It’s a really odd game. It lacks the charm of Burnout Paradise, but has nearly all of the same features. The race types are less inspired, there isn’t the route finding that everybody hated in Paradise until they learnt the city and the police make races a lottery with you being rammed off the road at really annoying times due to no fault of your own. It wasn’t as pleasant an experience as it was playing the first time, I suspect because the flaws were more obvious from the start. It’s also a stupidly short game if you’re just going for the credits and ignoring the collectables.

Game 5: Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag (PS4)

I sort of got this game again just to play something on my PS4, and having completed it a second time I’m not sorry. It’s harder than the PC version because you don’t have quite the control a mouse gives you when running over rooftops and so you sometimes miss the jump you think you should be able to make, but the rest of the game more than makes up for it. The real world elements are a treasure trove of jokes and observation about game development that manages to not break the fourth wall while still poking fun at the previous games.

There are more people on the multiplayer on the PS4 version than the PC version as well, but it still feels a little off. I love the way they came up with a conceptually valid way to do multiplayer that sticks to the plot and the gameplay, but it has always felt that there is something missing. The level system also means that you don’t get any fun tools until you level up, which turns it into a grind that shouldn’t be needed in a fun multiplayer environment. Multiplayer is fun for the gameplay, I’m really against levelling up as anything other than a measure of ability.

Anybody who hasn’t been playing the games because they didn’t like the way the series was going should probably pick this up and take a look. On PC of course as it looks better, plays better and is cheaper.

Game 6: Tomb Raider Definitive Edition (PS4)

This is exactly the same as the old version except for the addition of dumb controller gimmicks (Kinect for Xbox One and Camera/stupid controller speaker for PS4). I almost finished it in a single sitting, so take that as a recommendation as to how much I still like it and how bad my sleep routine is.

So there we have it. Six games completed and we’re on the 6th week of the year. Time to find another game I’ve abandoned 10 minutes before the end!