Monday, January 5, 2015

Ashes & Ghosts

I've been doing nothing but working and coming back to the motel to sleep, as usual. And since the weather now hovers in the single digit area a lot nowadays, we've not been working long. Which is bad for the paycheck, but great for some downtime. I've been doing some trophy hunting in a few different games lately. I have no idea what it is about virtual trophies that appeals to me, but I'm addicted. Back before I had a PS3, I'd hear some friends talk about ho they'd work for days trying to get a trophy, and I'd just think: "What a waste of time.". I saw no appeal in them at all. Even after I got my PS3, I thought they were a silly concept.

And then I got my first trophy ever, in the first PS3 game I ever played: 'Dead Space'. Then I understood. It's a combination of a sense of accomplishment, and bragging rights. And for a 100% completion purist, such as myself, something more to obsess over and work towards. I have not 100%ed all of my games. I get distracted easily when it comes to some games, and in some instances you need to play online multi-player to get them, which I don't do. Other times they're just friggin' hard  ("Lara Croft & The Guardian Of Light"s "Tomb Raider" trophy is my Blood Mountain, at the moment) and I don't have the patience or put it on a back burner and never get back to it. But I do try.

So for a change of pace, and to showcase either A) My nerdiness, which I'm proud of by the way or B) my lack of a social life, I thought I'd talk about a few of my favorite ones that I've gotten so far. Trophy values are much like medals in the Olympics: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum, with Platinum being the most "valuable", for those unaware. I know not everyone is keen on these things. Apologies for the quality of the photos, they were taken off of my television with my phone. And some of the "earned" dates are not there because at the time of those earnings I'd not yet had my PS3 connected online...

"Don't Get Cocky, Kid!" - 'Dead Space'
This was a bitch to get. The first time I played 'Dead Space' was an experience I'll never forget and will always think about. It was something I very rarely get out of a game, in that I got so wrapped up in it I was near obsessed. It's a game whose atmosphere and tone just sucks you in, and within the first 5 minutes. It genuinely scared me, even with the cheap jump scare gimmicks. Everything about it is utilized so well, and it's not just a survival horror game. You also get a zero gravity basketball segment (which is way more fun then it sounds), and a classic arcade style space shooter segment. Which is what this is for.

After doing something for somebody so that you can then do something else (I do not recall the exact setup, it escapes me), you have to make your way to the top of a spire of the U.S.G. Ishimura to blast away some asteroids that are slamming into the ship with a laser cannon. This laser cannon is usually an auto tracking cannon, meaning it does all the work by itself to keep the ship safe from rouge debris and asteroids. But you're there because the tracking system is down, and you need to take out the asteroids yourself while a crewmate of yours works away at getting the tracking system back online. Lucky for you, it should just take a couple of minutes!

It starts off easy and simple enough: You've a shield rating of 100%, and it decreases by 5% (on normal mode) with every asteroid you miss that hits the ship, big ass asteroid floats slooooowly towards you, you line up your shot, fire, it's gone.  Then two come sloooooowly towards you, fire, gone. Then the music picks up the tempo slightly, and the number of asteroids is slightly increased. Your crewmate gets over your comlink and says something like: "Damn! It's taking longer than I thought it would! Don't stop!". The asteroids pick up speed as they come towards you, and grow in numbers, and the music picks up speed as well. Suddenly there are big asteroids that split into 3 small sections when you hit them, and in no time you've a shitload of asteroids coming at you, with your horn and violin soundtrack going in such a frantic pace Slayer would be impressed, and a crewmate who occasionally yells "I've almost got it! Just ONE MORE minute!!" at you. It gets intense.

My first playthrough I think it took me 5 attempts to pass that level, and if I remember right I had 15 or 20% shields left. I hated that level. It was supposed to be a friggin' horror game! Not 'Gradius' on  meth! But after beating the game, and finding out about this trophy, I had to earn it. And it took awhile, and a lot of sweat sweated from palms, but I got it. And it should've been a silver instead of bronze.

"Mission Impossible" - 'Dead Space 2'
I obsessed over 'DS2' just as much as I did the first one. It's a sequel that does everything right, from story to the new characters. And I just loved Ellie and Isaac's charisma, and I applauded the false ending, which lead to the real ending. That was, and is, one of the best endings I've ever seen in a game. Though I do sometimes think that as much balls it took for them to have the downer lead in to the "happy" ending, it would've been way cooler if they'd just kept the downer. THAT would've been balls. And a perfect ending to a very dark and bleak story. This was rewarded for completing the game on it's hardest setting, besides "Hard Core" (I think), the setting that only let's you save twice. Yeah, I've not attempted it yet. I just haven't had a fully day to give it a go. Yet.

"Unlocked" & "Hero" - 'Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes'
I like these two because they were not easy at all to get, same with another trophy from that game which I discussed in a previous entry. These are a couple of my "bragging rights" trophies. And proof of how I have no better way of spending my holidays except playing video games. Sad, perhaps, but I didn't get loaded up on booze and get into trouble.
"No Stone Left Unturned" & "Inconceivable!" - 'Tomb Raider 2013'
Ask any TR fan and they'll tell you that getting sucked in to the great level designs and environments, and becoming a "master" of those realms is part of the fun of TR.  Te details put in to them, as well as fantastic stories,make you want to know everything about the games. You want to know their the best ways to traverse them, you want to see every detail the designers and artists ut into them, and you want to know their secrets. And there were loads of secrets in 'TR 2013'. And they were very cleverly hidden. And it was a blast to find them all, even though it may have taken me awhile. I got distracted.
"Bearly Legal" - 'Red Dead Redemption'
One of the things I like about trophies is when game developers put some humor in them. This one cracked me up, and still makes me giggle. It's one that pops up, you laugh, then go, "Ah, that's clever!". And it was actually pretty difficult for me to get. I think I spent about two hours and died 7 times going for it. The bastards don't go down easy.
"Master Of Tomb Raider: Legend" - 'Tomb Raider: Legend'
This is hands down my favorite TR game, and in my top 10 of favorite games of all time. I just love everything about it: The levels, the gameplay, the music, the voice acting, the sound design. It's all perfect. And the story is fantastic. It hooks you in from the start, and ends in a way so that you can't wait to see what happens next (and that doesn't disappoint either). It's first TR game I ever played (other than the demo for the first one way back when), and if I'd started with another game I highly doubt I'd have gotten in to TR. It's 100% flawless for me. If people want to look at how to make a great game, I have few other examples for them to look at. Not that anyone ever asks, but still...
So I was more than happy to earn all the trophies for it. But this eluded me for a couple of months. There were two that I wasn't getting, and I ended up resorting to an internet guide to find out what the Hell they were. Turns out I had to kick a soccer ball against a door (I only knew of 1 spot you could kick it and get a reaction), and I needed to survive for 5 minutes against a boss whose ass I always kick in about 45 seconds. Oops. But I finally got it, and being for one of my favorite games, I'm very pleased with it, even if it is one that may be fairly common in "collections".
"Master Of Tomb Raider Underworld" - 'Tomb Raider: Underworld'
'Underworld' is the sequel to 'Legend', and is just as fantastic. The only reason I prefer 'Legend' is that 'Underworld' has a hellacious camera system that will cause your death much more often than any enemy in the game, and it's got a few bugs. I got this yesterday, after finally tracking down the last treasure I needed for the "Master Treasure Collector" trophy. There are 179 of them, and as I said, sometimes I get distracted. I liked earning this one because of all the years I only had the terrible PS2 port. After finally playing 'Underworld' the way it was meant to be experienced and earning this, well, it's comforting. In a strange way. And it's a badass looking trophy. Much better than the generic platinums for 'Legend' and 'Anniversary'. Speaking of which...
"Master Of Tomb Raider: Anniversary" and "Central Shaft Survivor" - 'Tomb Raider: Anniversary'
Another TR trophy I was happy to earn, in both cases. "Central Shaft" was a pleasant surprise. The particular segment mentioned was one of the hardest parts of 'Anniversary' for me. When I first played that game it was actually probably the most curse word inducing moment of any game I'd ever played at that point. It's since become a segment I either do great at, or really fucking terrible at. There seems to be no middle ground in that segment for me. And I earned this on my first go at that segment on the PS3 version. It was flawless, and when this popped up, I was genuinely surprised there was a trophy for it, and fairly proud of myself for having accomplished it. The "fake" reward felt earned.
"Just Out Of Reach" - 'Alien: Isolation'
'Alien: Isolation' is brilliant. I've said that about it before, and I'll say it again and again. It's flawed, yes, but much like 'Dead Space' or 'Silent Hill 2', it's an experience you'll never forget. And this trophy was a beast to get. I didn't get it on my first playthrough, I got it on the 2nd. By then I had a pretty good idea of how to sneak around undetected, but it didn't make it any easier. Trust me: No matter how good of an idea you have of how to play it, 'Isolation' will always catch you by surprise. It was a bit of patience and very cautious footsteps that got me this. There are 2 more like it, 1 before, and 1 further down the road from it. I've already botched the 1st one, and haven't reached the 3rd's area yet on my 2nd playthrough. Soon, though... 
And lastly for this entry, "Turd Burglar" - 'Duke Nukem Forever'
You get this in the very first area of the game. I was walking around, seeing what buttons did what, and I wondered over to a toilette with a piece of excrement floating in it. Then there was a button prompt, I hit the button, and next thing I know, Duke is holding a piece of poo going "What is this shit?! Why am I doing this?!". It's a trophy for an action that lets you know what kind of game you're playing. Which is why you're playing it. Now I just need to get off my ass and finish it...

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