Best of 2014 – I Regret Nothing

First Published: May 26, 2014
Voted For By: Chris, Ed, and Lorna
Reason(s) For Vote:
“Proof that no matter what you want to do with your games, whether it’s whore all the achievement points, play something on the toughest difficulty or collect ALL the flags, you should always play with no regrets” – Chris

“Richie is one of the funniest people you could ever know, and I look forward to every Richie Report with furvor. However, his best article this year was easily I Regret Nothing, a marvelous retrospective on his days of achievement hunting that also acts as a fond farewell letter to the Xbox 360. Also, it was apparently partially inspired by my “I’ve Never Truly Achieved Anything” article. Not that I’m conceited or anything.” – Ed

“The greatest achievement whore I know and love, Richie, brings his career to an end, with the soaring crescendo of yet another bug-hunt game, EDF 2025. When something that goes so far towards defining the gaming side of a friend comes to an end, it is touching and sad but, the way he tells it, understandable. At least he’ll never be stuck in the garden in a tent, in the pouring rain, playing away a GLBBQ weekend with the hell that is Rock Band ever again. Probably.” – Lorna

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was getting used to my brand new Xbox 360 controller and nagivating a zombie-infested warehouse as Frank West, the hero journalist from Dead Rising. My inherent cackhandedness, however, saw Frank lose his footing and fall to the ground. At that point something odd happened. Achievement Unlocked. Freefall 20GS. Hmmm. What? A button press or two later revealed that I had helped Frank ‘Drop from a height of at least 16 feet’ and had been awarded for it with a bleep, a small message and my first twenty gamerscore. It couldn’t have been more inconsequencial if it had tried. I can’t tell you what my reaction was because it barely registered as one.

Dead Rising, however, is an incredible game and I eventually played through its story, loving every minute of it, and had a look at the achievements once more. They looked horrible. Collectathons galore, some bullshit about saving everyone and those Survival Mode achievements seemed ridiculous. Why would I even bother? So I didn’t. Then something happened. I picked up Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland. Before the invention of achievements I would 100% the Tony Hawk games for fun. That meant beating them with every character, finding all the gaps and anything else the game wanted me to do. So doing that on the Xbox 360 seemed like second nature. Then I ended up at the point where all I needed were the last few gaps to get the final achievement. Found them, popped the achievement, had a look at the achievements screen on my Xbox. 1000/1000 unlocked. 100%. That felt nice.

I wasn’t arsed if it carried any supposed glory, or if anyone knew. What I liked was that the game could now be traded in and never played again, but that I’d have a permanent record that I beat it. That’s just a nice thing to have. I wish I had a list of everything I’d beaten on the Speccy, Amiga, SNES and anything else I’ve played. Suddenly, I looked at other games I had. PES6 became my next achievement challenge but, more importantly, it was my first grind. Maxing that took more matches than I care to admit. I hated roughly 95% of the time I spent playing it. Then I met a random Canadian on GameFAQs and we boosted the multiplayer filth on Prey (which was already completely dead online, making legit online play impossible) over a week or two.

Since then, my gaming has been guided by three factors: games I want to play, games I want to max, and games I can review. The maxing element has been the main one for a while now. The Walking Dead: Season Two is likely to be my three hundred and eighth max, which gives you some idea of how much the urge to whore has influenced my gaming choices. So why am I telling you this? Well, in the light of Ed’s recent look at the world of non-whoring, I figured I’d better explain what it’s like as a hardcore whore.

The misconception is that it’s to do with whopping out your electronic cock and waving it in the faces of your fellow gamers. That might be the case if you’re Stallion83 (the world’s best, most whoriest whore of all the whores), but right now with my three hundred or so maxes and a gamerscore that’s into my second quarter million, I’m fucking nowhere in the big picture of whoring. I’m in the top thousand world wide; if you’re the thousandth best at something, you’re not elite, you’re pretty good… maybe. Depends on how many people are playing.

You see, it’s not competitive. It’s just collecting, and gamers are often collectors. Some of you collect old SNES games or Japanese shoot ‘em ups or retro consoles. Me? I trade in my games once they are beaten and, even though I’m a diehard retro gamer, I’m more than happy getting my fix via emulation. I’ve got a couple of old machines but they are gathering dust and will probably ignite at the first hint of a power supply. So I collect maxes. Sometimes they are rewarding (as in the case of Dead Rising or Earth Defense Force 2017), most of the time they are a horrible grind (as with Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom and Assassin’s Creed) and often I just pick up a game because it’s a cheap and easy max. I’ve played some fucking dogshit too. Interpol on XBLA is a ‘spot the difference’ game that has one job (look nice enough that your eyes don’t die when you are spotting things) and it fails at that. It was a couple of quid, I didn’t enjoy it but it gave up its 200 gamerscore within a day or two of lazy gaming. Game deleted, one added to the max counter.

Playing things you don’t like (or playing things you like until the point you no longer like them) is an odd thing to do, I get that, especially as maxes don’t come for free. But here’s the thing, the maxing is the journey. Finding hundreds of flags in Assassin’s Creed or grinding out football matches on FIFA and PES isn’t fun, but for many whores it’s about setting your mind to standby and getting your zen on. Any buzz that you get for maxing a game, even a really satisfying one, is pretty fleeting, but after a hard day at work, and the gym, the last thing I want to do is fucking think.

You know, I even went back to Dead Rising over a period of two or three years, checking off various achievements when I had enough will to endure them. This culminated in a shameful Saturday that saw me put in a shift that lasted from 8am to 11pm in order to get the Seven Day Survivor achievement. I had it planned down to the last detail. I knew what I was going to do and how I was going to do it. I just needed my Xbox to not crash and, fortunately, I survived. It wasn’t difficult, per se, but it felt as taxing and futile as one of those David Blaine stunts. Most of the time though, my maxes aren’t quite as horrible as that.

It helps if you love your lemons. A nice, average game with a haul of gettable achievements becomes a nice enough way to use up a gaming session, and you know how you can’t get a fucking game of anything going anymore? Well, whores are always up for co-oping some shit or boosting some multiplayer shit. The days where people would get together for a big evening session on Burnout Paradise are long gone, and that game is fucking ace, but I’ve made recent sessions on XBLA shit you’ve never even heard of.

However, all stupid things must come to an end and when Microsoft dropped the ball (a giant ball, made of shit, that accidentally flattened an orphanage) with the Xbox One, suddenly my latent PlayStation fanboy gene flickered into life. I was a huge fan of the PS1 and PS2 but, like most sensible people, didn’t really bother with a PS3 (until very recently when I bought one, played Chime a lot and then neglected the console altogether). However, the PS4 peaked my interest in the next gen, and I was aware that I had a ready-built exit strategy for achievement whoring. You see, I have no interest in trophies. I went out of my way to max out Chime: Super Deluxe on the PS3, but that’s because Chime is my favourite Xbox 360 game and it’s also the game I’m best at, so I felt obliged to get all the trophies, but that’s the only one so far that I’ve put any effort into.

I now own a PS4 and suddenly the life of a non-whore has been brought sharply into focus for me. I recently played The Amazing Spider-Man 2 which is, as you’d expect, like every other Spidey game. It’s an open-world game of course but I stuck to the story missions and had it beaten in a day. The thing is, the game costs £50, and although I snagged a review copy, I’m fully aware that that provides very little value for money. As expected, the game has a ton of side missions and collectables that pad out the content, but the only reason to do any of that is for the trophies. So the choices are: play the game for a day; play the game for two weeks, doing a load of chorey shit; beat the story and then do some other stuff, but with no overall aim or point. I’ve maxed out a few Spidey things on the 360 and they are all a bit of a chore, but at the time I was set to standby, zenning my way through them with the sole intention of getting that max. It’s not clever but it’s something. And I definitely got value out of those games. The alternative doesn’t seem that appealing to me.

On the 360, the majority of my time is being swallowed up by Earth Defence Force 2025. It’s a long game that can be brutally difficult at times, however, I maxed out the other two EDF games and so feel like this one has to be maxed too. It’ll take SIXTEEN playthroughs. It’ll be very difficult for at least eight of those. It will take me probably a thousand hours to do. It will often be horrible. Or I could maybe just beat the story on Normal and move on after a week or so. It’s a choice. My choice might not be the smart one but, along the way, other EDF whores will be attempting the same thing. We’ll play together or seperately but will often party up just for moral support. Beating some of those levels will be huge achievements in their own right, a mix of skill and strategy that few other games can match.

Eventually, maybe, I’ll pop the last achievement on it. It will have been my Moby Dick. It will have swallowed days and weeks of my time on this planet and, ultimately, it won’t have meant anything. If anything, other achievement whores, free of the distractions of giant ants, will have displaced me in the global leaderboards and besides, in a year or two, I’ll have quit whoring for good. But, ultimately, I’ll have had something. Fun maybe? A challenge? A journey through hundreds of games that I probably would never have played or persisted with. But my gaming time will have been full and played my way. It will have been more varied than any other gaming period of my life and I’ll have been challenged more than I ever was.

People love to tell you how they don’t care about achievements, yet I’ll guarantee 99.9% of them has gone out of their way to get them. Don’t tell me you did that plane mission on COD4 because you love dying every twenty seconds. Even on the most casual of gaming fodder, people cherrypick at the achievements. Everyone is a whore when it suits them. So, I could be collecting every PAL Sega Saturn game ever released, collecting every Pokemon game ever released or perfecting a fucking Space Channel 5 cosplay costume, but instead I’ve experienced almost everything the Xbox 360 – arguably the greatest console ever made – has had to offer. That’ll do.

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