Thursday, May 30, 2013

Summer of Platinum # 6


Bloody Brick Wall

My Summer of Platinum project almost came to a screeching halt the other evening.  It was just a few days removed from finally scoring the platinum trophy for Assassin’s Creed II when I hit a massive, bloody brick wall that goes by the name of Mass Effect 2.  When I first booted up the game I attempted to go for the last three trophies I need with Jakita Shepard; my FemShep character that’s a level 30 Adept, my most powerful Mass Effect character, and the one I spent most of my Mass Effect journey with.  I created Jakita on my second play through of Mass Effect 2 and based her appearance and namesake on the character Jakita Wagner from Warren Ellis’ and John Cassaday’s comic book series, Planetary.  After growing enamored with the Adept class, I kept up with Jakita for two play throughs of Mass Effect 2 and carried her over to Mass Effect 3 for two play throughs – initially – of that game as well, where I successfully platinumed that particular installment.  I grew so fond of this character that when the original Mass Effect game was finally released on the PlayStation 3, I re-created her from scratch and played my way through all three games with her; I’ve also recently re-created her for the PC version of Skyrim as well.  She’ll probably be my default character in any game that you’re allowed or required to create your own character from now on.

Yet, immediately upon starting another Mass Effect 2 adventure, I realized that going with Jakita as an Adept was a bad idea.  The last three trophies I need to platinum the game aren’t very Adept friendly.  Two required powers unavailable to that class – Incinerate and Overload – and the final trophy?  Well, the final trophy is like a drunken bastard at a bar that’s near seven-feet tall, four-hundred pounds and has a hard-on for making your life miserable.  That’s the Insanity difficulty – which is an entirely different drunken bastard than his younger brother that appears in Mass Effect 3.  I remembered how mean and nasty this guy was from a previous and ultimately futile attempt with Jakita, so I backed out and resurrected my original Mass Effect 2 character, Dameyon Shepard.  Named after myself, of course, this guy was a level 30 Sentinel and better equipped to handle Drunken Bastard Insanity.

Or so I thought.

I quickly whipped through the game’s opening sequences with no problems whatsoever.  I thought that maybe this was going to be it!  A thought that was blown out of proportions when I got to Omega and started the first handful of missions of the game.  I opted for the Mordin Solus mission first, ‘cause Mordin opens up the upgrade lab on your ship as well as adds Incinerate to your arsenal.  Almost immediately after finishing his mission again with no issues whatsoever, I went after Garrus and during his mission got both the Incinerate and Overload trophies.  Down to one trophy and the game took that as a cue to amp up the Drunken Bastard aspects of Insanity and throw me and my team under the buss again and again and again.  After dying six or seven times in the same exact spot by the same Vorcha asshole amped up on Drunken Bastard Insanity and armed with a flamethrower, I gave up.  I threw in the towel.  I called it quits.

I declared the Summer of Platinum over and went off to celebrate my defeat by reading a comic or two.


Dark Knight, Dark Resurrection

The Summer of Platinum’s savior came by way of a comic book superhero that’s older than anyone that I personally know: Batman.  The Caped Crusader was born into this world in 1939 within the pages of
Detective Comics, and has since been a part of pop-culture in every conceivable media available.  From radio shows and television programs to films and theme-park rides.  Unlike his boy-scout counterpart, Superman, Batman’s appearance in video games came a bit later; not appearing until 1986 with “Batman,” for various computer systems, whereas Superman first appeared in 1979 with “Superman,” for the Atari 2600.  Since 1986, however, Batman has starred and appeared in a plethora of games across several platforms and genres.  Yet, it wasn’t until August 25th, 2009 that any of the games did the Dark Knight justice.  With Batman: Arkham Asylum, Rocksteady Studios did somethings that were almost unheard of in video games: they took a licensed property and made a unique and competitive video game out of it.  Normally, in video games, licensed properties pale in comparison to original properties and are ridiculously inferior products.  Unfortunately this trend hasn’t died completely – I’m looking at you Aliens: Colonial Marines – but the financial and critical success of Arkham Asylum has definitely changed the playing field.  This was the first time in a licensed product that you FELT like the character you were playing as – Batman! – and the first time the game’s graphics, design, and gameplay mechanics rivaled those of original gaming properties.

The plot of Arkham Asylum is very similar to the graphic novel of the same name written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Dave McKean.  The Joker is in control of the Asylum and Batman is trapped inside.  Thanks to the wonderful writing of Paul Dini and the returning vocal talents of Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Arleen Sorkin – reprising their roles from Batman: the Animated Series of Batman, the Joker, and Harley Quinn, respectively – the game illustrates just how easy it is tell an original Batman story in another medium without re-telling his origin every single time (which is what they keep doing in the movies).  It also falls wonderfully in place in the Batman mythos as nothing seems out of the ordinary for this Batman.  Even when the ten-foot-tall Killer Croc makes his appearance.  As much as I enjoyed the three Christopher Nolan Batman films they all felt like something was missing.  They were TOO grounded in reality, which left no room for the more fantastical elements of Batman’s world like Killer Croc or Clayface or Poison Ivy.

Arkham Asylum was one of the games I never thought I’d be able to platinum.  With just a handful of trophies left, all of which centering around the game’s various challenge modes, it was proving to be quite difficult for me to get my head around.  Yet, I was inspired by my nephew’s newfound broad acceptance of all types of games away from his usual diet of Nothing But Call of Duty to give it another shot.

Before I could, however, I had to find the last remaining Riddler Trophies in the game’s story mode just to unlock the rest of the challenges.  I had to do this because for some odd reason or another the game saves from Arkham Asylum aren’t compatible with the Game of the Year Edition of the same game.  Meaning that a while back I must have started completely over from scratch.  Luckily the Riddler Trophies, riddles and puzzles are cake in Arkham Asylum and I had the last thirty or so in under an hour – except one! – and could move on to the challenges.

The trophies I needed to get the platinum were Freeflow Silver (16 medals in combat challenges); Freeflow Gold (24 medals); Predator Gold (24 gold in predator challenges); and Perfect Knight (100% game completion).  The combat challenges are four rounds of Batman beating up thugs of various degrees of difficulty; the predator challenges are Batman sneaking around all shinobi like and taking out a roomful of thugs as quickly and as stealthly as possible.  The medals are awarded for reaching certain point marks in the combat challenges and completing certain objectives in the predator challenges.  I had a lot of difficulty with these when I first tried them in 2009, but after playing the game’s sequel, Arkham City, the combat challenges, while frustrating at times, weren’t as hard as I remembered them being.

As for the predator challenges, well, I just don’t have that sort of Bat-skill apparently.  I could take all the guys out somewhat quickly, but completing the objectives?  Getting the medals?  I guess I’m more of a Frank Miller’s DKR Batman that punches faces and breaks bones than a Christopher Nolan clever plotting Batman.  So I enlisted the help of my nephew, who had the exact opposite problem: he could do the predator stuff, but had troubles with the combat stuff.  I did all the combat challenges and combat related trophies for him to get his platinum and he did all the predator stuff to help me get that Predator Gold trophy.
But I still had one last trophy to get before the platinum would ding: Perfect Knight.  All because I missed one last Riddler Trophy.  Thus, I reloaded the story, went and found it and BING: Perfect Knight.  BINGx2: Platinum.  That makes ten platinum trophies altogether, and my third successful attempt this summer.


Where to go From Here?

Since I’m avoiding Drunken Bastard Insanity in Mass Effect 2, I’m not sure which gme to go for next.  I have a few that don’t require that many more trophies to get the platinum, but it isn’t an easy decision for me to make.  To compensate for my indecisiveness, I started playing Assassin’s Creed III again, a game I hadn’t even finished yet, and another that I don’t think I can platinum because of the multiplayer trophies involved.  So, we’ll see where I go from here.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Summer of Platinum # 5


This is The End, My Beautiful Friend

I’ve said pretty much all I can about Assassin’s Creed II, so in order to save myself from repeating myself and a whole helluva lot of words, I’m done with it.

Yep.  Ninth platinum trophy is mine, and I got all them goddamned feathers and pranced around in my nifty ass family crested cape, and swept five dudes with a polearm.  Which sounds kinda dirty, actually.

The last nine feathers were extremely stressful for some reason or another, because within the span of maybe forty-five minutes it was like all of a sudden I had forgotten how to play the entire game.  I died all the time, fell off everything, Ezio was convinced that I was wrong in my directions and was determined to jump into the water and wherever he thought was appropriate.

But then, pow!  Finally, trophies!

I would get into details about the journey to get those trophies, but honestly, I’ve forgotten most of it.  Between playing the game and being social, it’s all evaporated into a nonsensical cloud of brain poop, and I don’t care to address said brain poop anymore.  So, I’m moving on to the next ghastly mission.



The trophies that I need to platinum Mass Effect 2 aren’t very many.  There’s three.  Two require specific duties to unlock ‘em that are basic combat involved type shit that won’t be too hard to get.  It’s the last one I have trouble with.  I’ve made a few efforts with it, but have failed miserably each time.  It’s the Insanity trophy, which requires the player to beat the game on Insanity difficulty.  And for some reason this is so much more difficult on Mass Effect 2 than it was with Mass Effect 3.

My plan of execution for this trophy is going to require two playthroughs.  One more on a regular difficulty or some such, to further level up the character that I’m playing as (MaleShep, Sentinel class; not going my usual FemShep Adept class) and be as powerful as one can be before I even start the game – thank BioWare for New Game Plus! – and then go at it as hard as I can.  I’m going to try to play Paragon as much as possible, ‘cause I’ve heard that the benefits of such make the game less difficult, versus when you play as an asshole.  Hopefully by doing this I’ll find the same ease that came with Mass Effect 3’s insanity difficulty.  That game was only hard at the very end of the game because I did just that.  I was at level sixty or so through the whole game and just nuked the absolute fuck outta every bad guy with warp and various combinations with warp.

I’ll get more into what Mass Effect is in a later entry.



I put this in the other day and went a few rounds – well, more than a few – with Sub-Zero and Scorpion, and once again was reminded how ridiculous some of the trophies for this game are.  Not mentioning the multiplayer based trophies which will forever be unobtainable by me ‘cause I don’t play all that many games online at all, there’s this Mastering shit trophies.  To master a character in the game you have to play that specific character for a full day.  Twenty-four hours.  That’s a lot of time to be playing a fighting game, and I play the shit outta fighting games.  Right now, I’m sitting at six hours played with Sub-Zero.  SIX.  Twenty-four versus SIX means a lot of dedication and kissing everyone in my life goodbye in order to get a non-existent trophy for a video game.  Which, yeah, I do that a lot, but I’m nocturnal, so while I’m playing these games and getting these nonexistent trophies, everyone else in the world is asleep.  EVERYONE.  But then there's another mastering trophy where you have to master ALL the characters.  ALL of them – well, not the DLC characters, but all the rest!  ALL OF THEM.  That’s twenty-eight characters.  Twenty-eight characters times twenty-four hours is SIX-HUNDRED-SEVENTY-TWO HOURS.  That’s literally a month straight of Mortal Kombat playing.  While it’s most certainly achievable, this is one of those trophies that’s permanently on my back burner.  I casually play Mortal Kombat now, because I’ve seen everything that the game has to offer and I refuse to play any fighting games online.

Platinuming this game or any fighting game aside from the Tekken games is something I really have no interest in trying.  I can’t adjust to the lag and input delay that comes with playing fighting games online, so, I’d rather save myself a whole new level of humiliation by just not trying.  I’ll play against people in the same room, or over a lan party, but online?  Nah.  No thanks.



This one’s really short!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Summer of Platinum # 4

The Devil’s Brigade Volume III

One of the more fantastic things about X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the methods by which you can dispatch the enemies.  With the Circle button on the PS3 controller – and whichever is the equivalent for the 360 – Wolverine can grab the badguys and do some rather nasty things to them a la Mortal Kombat fatality or God of War in pure visceral visuals.  And while those fatality-like kills can be pretty interesting, they’re not the most fun way to dispose of the bad guys, no.  In fact, the most fun manner in which Wolverine can dispose of the bad men is to just chuck them from really high places.  If they’re not a sub-boss or a boss, you can grab almost any enemy and just chuck them off a cliff, regardless of how much damage you’ve done to them.  In one of the later levels of the game, the one set in New Orleans, this comes in plenty handy and I swear on this last play through it’s all I did.  Especially the assassins and dual-machete wielding bastards.  Just grab ‘em, and fling ‘em out the window.  Poof, bad guy gone.

As fun as that is, it’s not the most amusing way.  The most amusing way comes on those same levels where there are random cement mixers placed on the level – because the building is under construction or whatever – and you can chuck the bad guys into these things and they die instantly.  They’re bodies remain in the mixers as it spins with limbs just flopping around.  Thank you, Rag Doll Effect, for the entertainment value amidst the digital violence.

I got down to the final five dog tags and I had a nice little flavor of excitement kicking around in my head.  This was four years and however many failed attempts in the making!  How could I not be excited?!  Yes, I’m a nerd.  As I collected the last five dog tags, I came to the conclusion that the problem with every other list I used for these bastard things was that the “authors” of those lists just copied the list from the official strategy guide and acted as though they had done it themselves.  Because using the list on, I had absolutely no issues finding any of these dog tags.  So much thanks to the guy that put that together, and even took pictures of it.

Gambit is such a wiener.  Just throwing that out there.  At one time, about twenty years ago or more, this guy was a favorite of mine and I have no idea why anymore.  He’s a twat; an uninteresting twat of a character whose powers seem to be excessive every time he appears in anything, and I have no idea why he gained the popularity that he did.  In the game he’s an even bigger twat than he is in the comics.  His absurd Cajun accent that never sounds authentic in anything he has a voice in – not the movie, not this game, not any other game, and most certainly not any of the cartoons he was featured in – that’s even MORE absurd when you try to read it in the comics.  His wanker powers, his everything, really.  I remember in the comics that he had massive restrictions on what he could charge with his energy to make explode – one of the reasons he uses playing cards – and the biggest thing he could charge up was a basketball.  Here it’s statues, giant letters on a neon sign, so on and so forth.  And I don’t mean to get all nitpicky, but, really?  This guy is a boss in a Wolverine game?  Wolverine would gut him with the greatest of ease and move on, no battle to be fought.  Wolverine is the BEST there is at what he does, remember?  Sparring with a retarded mutant from New Orleans isn’t what he does.  You go from a Sentinel to the Blob to… Gambit?  And each attack takes off a splinter of health?  A SPLINTER?!  I know, let us overpower the biggest wiener from the X-Men and make him a boss!

And then it happened!  I collected the last set of dog tags and boom!  The Devil’s Brigade trophy pinged, and not a moment later, ping! Platinum.  Unfortunately, that’s the name of the trophy as well.  “Platinum.”  Usually they have some kind of clever name, but not here.  Just “Platinum.”

Oh, well.  That makes eight!  And the first platinum trophy of my Summer of Platinum!

The Story of Ezio Auditore da Firenze

The Assassin’s Creed games begin with… well, Assassin’s Creed.  It tells the story of Desmond Miles as he’s reliving the life of an ancestor named Altair ibn-La’Ahad, who happens to be an upstart member of an ancient guild of assassins from around 1190 AD or so, during the Third Crusade.  It tells of a secret war between the assassins and the Templars.  Yes, THOSE Templars.  The Templar Knights.  The war is over a secret object called the Apple of Eden, and when you eventually find it and see what it is, it breaks your brain a little bit, because it’s not at all what you’d assume it was.  The first game ends on a sort of blank note.  The ending is not what I’d call a five star quality ending to a five star quality match.  It’s like the match is all five stars and ends with an abrupt run-in from someone that makes little sense, and leaves a whole lot open to interpretation.

Which brings us to the game I’m trying to platinum now, Assassin’s Creed II. The second game opens immediately where the first one left off.  Desmond is escaping from the bad guys with some help from a lady friend – who also appears in the last game – named Lucy Stillman (voiced by that Kristen Bell lady), where they run off into hiding where they have a homemade Animus.  They use the Animus to send Desmond back into the memories of his ancestor again, but it’s not Altair this time.  It’s Ezio Auditore da Firenze, a young man living in 15th Century Italy, who’s about to be introduced to his family’s heritage: the Assassin’s.  The world of Assassin’s Creed is very well crafted to make the fiction of the games fit well into our actual history in the really, real world.  The architecture, the people, the attire, the financial setting; everything was well elaborated on for the second game – even more so than the first – because the game doesn’t take place in the span of just a few years, but almost an entire life-time.  All these ancient buildings and constructs were recreated in the game with a great attention to detail and a precise eye, and again, it presents the players with a very unique opportunity to explore these buildings and the like in a way that you cannot do in real life or even in any other work of fiction.  By the end of the second game, the revelations that are made draw the game further into the realm of science fiction and tinfoil hat fiction, but it all blends together perfectly in my opinion. 

All except the gameplay.  While the gameplay in ACII is vastly superior to that of AC, it still suffers from some of the same issues.  Namely, controlling Ezio.  The Assassin’s that you play as get to scale all the buildings and climb around and do that parkour stuff that folks do, but the problem is that sometimes they want to go in the directions that you DON’T want to go in, and they fall from very high places, often to their death.  There’s another series of games that uses a similar mechanic for its prime gameplay elements (the infamous series) and it, too, has the same issues.  Even when you become accustomed to it, and learn all the elements that you need to know, every once and a while, Ezio will become suicidal and jump to his demise – and it continues past ACII and goes into Brotherhood, Revelations and Assassin’s Creed III.  The combat elements of the game are almost too easy.  All you really have to do is perfect the countering system and you can go through the entire game without taking much damage until you face off against some of the more powerful bad guys that use bigger weapons and have heavier armor.  Trying to hack and slash your way through the game isn’t the best option, nor is it even at all effective.  The weapons serve the same basic functions until you unlock other ones later, like a wrist-mounted pistol and whatnot.  The throwing knives are a huge bonus to have at any point and are ridiculously lethal to most enemies.  The armor you unlock as you guy, which is typical of most games that have armor, and it gets better as you go as well.  One of the biggest faults of Assassin’s Creed was monotony.  It was bland at times, always the same, and every mission pretty much played out the same.  For Assassin’s Creed II, they tried to differentiate the missions as much as possible, and included some missions that revolve around the inventions (or at least the sketched inventions) of Leonardo da Vinci, where you get to pilot his hanglider thinger and his tank thinger as well.  Leonardo plays a pretty big role in the game, and it’s fascinating to be able to interact with such a prevalent historical figure – something that continues throughout the game series.  There’s also a handful of mini-games and puzzle that you get to tinker with that revolve around a secret sub-plot in the game that involves Subject 16, the Animus test-subject that came before Desmond Miles.  Overall, this game is incredibly superior to the original while maintaining the same vibe and feel of it.

There’s also some bonus materials hidden throughout each game.  On one of the houses in the original game, the developers hid the front end of the tractor truck that Optimus Prime from Transformers changed into.  There’s the collectable items such as the feathers among other things, and then there’s the level of depth to the game that you wouldn’t recognize on the surface at all.  Altair’s name, for instance, is Arabic in origin and translates to “bird,” and Ezio’s name is derived from the Greek word aetos, which means “eagle.”  That specific bird of prey is used throughout the game as a symbol for the Assassin’s, from their peak-hooded headdresses, to the vision elements and the way you uncover the environments of the game.  Each time you do a leap of faith, a jump from a high place from where birds are resting into a bale of hay, there’s an eagle cry to accompany it.

Feather Collector

The reason feathers are a collectable object in Assassin’s Creed II is that Ezio’s younger brother, Petruccio used to collect them, and Ezio witness his (along with his father and older brother) execution at the hands of the Templars.  In order to honor his younger brother’s life, Ezio continues to collect them, and there’s a hundred of the bastards decorated throughout the game’s various locations.  Each feather is placed in either a place where you have to climb to get to it, or out in the open atop some sort of construct or another, or they’re very well hidden in some nook or cranny of whatever city you’re in at the time.

This was one of those post-game trophies I was going to do after I originally finished Assassin’s Creed II.  Meaning, I was going to go back and do it at a later date simply because Brotherhood had just come out, and I had yet to even finish ACII.  Somewhere along the line, I lost my save file for the game, and then further put it off because in order to even start collecting the feathers, I would have to start the game over from scratch.

Which is what I did not too long ago.  I restarted the game ‘cause I wanted to finish the first game (finally), play this one and then Brotherhood and Revelations, before finishing Assassin’s Creed III on December 21st, 2012; the date the game actually takes place on, and yes, the game deals with that whole Mayan Calendar, end of the world tinfoil hat stuff.  None of that happened, because I got side-tracked with other games and a car accident; so I barely even touched Assassin’s Creed II.  Starting over this time, however, and using the brilliantly authored Piggyback Interactive strategy guide, I’m collecting the feathers as I move along through the narrative, which isn’t at all as hard as it might seem.  Out of the hundred spread across the game, I’m already in possession of thirteen of them and I’ve only played a handful of hours.  This one shouldn’t take too long as I have no intentions of doing any of the side-quests this time around.  Normally, I attempt to do every side-quest in the games available, which makes the games last that much longer – especially in the realm of RPGs, or action games with multiple RPG elements like the Assassin’s Creed games.

A New Hope (of LEGO)

As promised, a bonus section!

With the recent purchase of the Xbox 360, I decided to buy the games I originally owned on the PlayStation 3 but never got trophy support for this system instead.  That way I could replay these “classics” and have a bonus reason for doing so.

One such game is LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga.

The LEGO games are a delight to play if not simply because they’re so simple to play.  They’re a cross between an open world game (sometimes) and the old 2D platformers like Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario Bros, but in LEGO form.  You collect coins and replay through some of the most influential movie franchises of all time with a sense of child-like delight and sense of humor.  The first game released was LEGO Star Wars, giving us LEGO versions of the original trilogy, and the LEGO Star Wars II, which gave us the prequel trilogy; the Complete Saga is all six LEGO movies crammed into one game with all sorts of weird shit going on.  You can literally play through all six movies as Darth Vader or Yoda or a Storm Trooper if you wished, after you’ve beaten the game.  They continued this series of games by getting into the Indiana Jones franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean, continuing Star Wars with the Clone Wars cartoon, Harry Potter, Batman, and Lord of the Rings.

Reliving the Star Wars movies through the LEGO versions of them is definitely something different.  Don’t like Jar Jar?  You can keep killing him “accidentally,” over and over and over.

I recently started playing it again on the Xbox 360 and I had forgotten how much fun this one is.  It’s the Force abilities and the Jedi/Sith lightsaber stuff that really makes it fun, and then unlocking characters like Boba and Jango Fett as well as General Grievous.

I got my first achievement by doing the Jedi special attack (a slam attack from the air) and smashing five enemies at one time.  That was pretty fun.

My achievements pale in comparison to my trophies.  I have very few.  Maybe six for Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition, three for Gears of War, and one for LEGO Star Wars.  But it’s a start!

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Summer of Platinum # 3

The Devil’s Brigade Volume II

So far so good with the guide to get the dog tags.  After about four hours of playing spread across three days, I have sixty-one out of the ninety-five dog tags, but I’m getting close to that point in the game, I think, where everything goes wrong and I miss one or two or three of them.  I was hoping to finish it all tonight, but a sudden wave of exhaustion set in and I’m beat and in need of sleep.  But not enough that I can’t write a few thousand words or so here.  Ha.

The World of Assassin’s Creed

Assassin’s Creed came out something like fifty years ago, give or take about five decades or so, and it wasn’t really on my radar at all.  I remember seeing a friend play it on the Xbox 360, and I was somewhat impressed with it until I played it myself and couldn’t even get into the game because it was repetitive.  It wasn’t until a few years later when Ubisoft released the sequel, appropriately named Assassin’s Creed II, that I gave it another whirl and fell in love with the game, and the entire franchise which has sense become an annual sort of thing.

The main reason I fell in love with the game is because the setting of the second game is Renaissance Italy and you get to interact with many architectural wonders and even talk to that Leonardo da Vinci guy several times.  The Assassin’s Creed games allow video game players a very unique opportunity in that they are essentially time machines that let you travel back to certain time periods and actually be a part of that environment.  It’s different from books or films that are period pieces because they’re either descriptions from the author’s point of view, or they’re motion pictures also given to you from a certain perspective; never are you allowed to go to those places and adventure in them of your own free will.  You don’t get to climb around the Colosseum in a movie or a book, but here, in Assassin’s Creed II, you can.  Without getting arrested and thrown in prison like you prolly would if you attempted this in real life.  It gives one an entirely different appreciation for the architecture of such places, and there are many of them decorated throughout not only Assassin’s Creed II, but the entire series.

There’s also a huge history element that is absolutely fascinating.  This particular game deals with the Borgia family and their attempt to do all sorts of wrong things.  The history is as accurate as one could hope for in a fictional world – if historical accuracy is important to you and all that – and it’s simply fascinating to watch it all play out as close to how the events actually unfolded plus the added fictions that the development team threw in for dramatic intent.

And some of those fictions deal with a whole lot of science fiction.  One of the main plot points for the game is that you’re not actually playing Ezio (or Altair from the first game), but are playing Desmond, a young man that lives right now – well in 2012, because… yeah.  Desmond is related to Altair and Ezio, and he’s reliving their memories through his DNA thanks to a machine called the Animus.  A corporation – that’s evil, ‘cause every time a corporation is introduced in a fiction, especially science fiction, it has to be evil, right? – is trying to dig up specific memories from Desmond’s head in the first game, and then he goes rogue in the second game with a band of folks that claim to be assassins.  You’d get it if you played it.  There’s a lot of science fiction stuff going on and it’s good stuff.  It’s not all too whacky…

But then again!  It is!  Assassin’s Creed has this aspect to it that I’m calling the Tinfoil Hat to Protect Yourself From Mindreading Aliens elements.  If you’re at all familiar with the Ancient Astronaut Theory, then this stuff will be old hat to you.  And you’ll probably roll your eyes and call bullshit.  But wait!  I’m not a tinfoil hat wearing crazy guy, and I really enjoy the Ancient Astronaut Theory.  Not because I believe it’s true to the slightest extent, oh, no no no.  It’s just as much bullshit to me as it prolly is to you, but what it is to me is absolutely fascinating; especially from a fictional point of view.  And the version of it that Assassin’s Creed presents to me, as a love of all sorts of crazy fictions, is just awesome.  I’m still excited to see how it’s all wrapped up for the Desmond character as I’ve yet to finish Assassin’s Creed III.  My original goal was to finish Assassin’s Creed III on December 21st, 2012 because that’s the day the game took place on, but I failed miserably.  I suppose I could set my PS3’s clock back to that date and pretend, but it probably wouldn’t have the same sort of nerdgasm level of nerd… gasm.

Assassin’s Creed II also tells a very unique story within those re-lived memories.  Unlike a lot of other games where the story is eats up a relatively short amount of time, this game covers almost an entire life span of a single character.  From birth to mid-life, we’re told the story of Ezio Auditore de Firenze and his involvement in the overall plot of the series.  It’s very interesting and quite unique to see a character grow from an infant the first time you meet him, to a young man that gets into all sorts of trouble, to what he becomes at the end of the game – and further continues in Brotherhood and Revelations, and even the short film, Embers.

In Memory of Petruccio

These fucking things.  It seems that in order to make a video game nowadays that’s not a first person shooter, you have to include these tiny, almost missable items that you have to collect in order to get 100% completion, and then they add on top of it a trophy that requires you to get ‘em.  If it’s not dog tags you find on the corpses of sometimes well hidden soldiers, it’s feathers.  FEATHERS.

The reason it’s feathers in Assassin’s Creed II actually has to do with the main character, Ezio, and his young brother, Petruccio, that is executed along with his father and his older brother.  So, to remember his brother and do him a great service, Ezio continues to collect the feathers and places them in a box at his home.  I completely passed over this activity the first time – and only – time I played this game from beginning to end, ‘cause I was gonna do it much later, and take my time with it.  Then I lost my save file, and now I gotta play the whole game over again and start from scratch, which is and isn’t fun at all.  Collecting feathers.  Feh.

Show Your Colors

The capes in the game are part of Ezio’s attaire and have some pretty decent features.  The first cape you get is the default one, and it doesn’t really do much of anything.  The other capes, however, like the Medici cape, the Venetian cape, and the Auditore cape all have different effects on how noticeable you are in each of the cities in the game, with the Auditore having the most negative effect of the three.  The reason it has a negative effect is because the Auditore family has been completely disgraced and framed for a bunch’a bullshit, so they instantly assume you’re up to villainy when they see you wearing this cape.

The trophy comes from obtaining this cape – which requires you finding all the feathers – and wearing it in each of the cities you can visit in Renaissance Italy.  Unfortunately on my previous play through, I didn’t find all the feathers, so I never even got this cape, let alone the opportunity to wear it anywhere.  This time will be different!


This trophy just pisses me off.  It’s a simple one.  You pick up a pole arm, like a spear or a pike, and you do a sweep move when surrounded and knock down five or more guys.  That’s it.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I ever picked up a single spear or a single pike and did anything with it, ‘cause Ezio’s default weapons, and the weapons you get throughout the game are much better than a goddamned pike.  After playing a lot of Assassin’s Creed III and learning how to get EVERYONE’S attention ‘cause I forgot how to play it, this trophy really shouldn’t be a problem to get at all.  Whatsoever.  None.

Game Mishap!

The other day I decided to order all the Lego games ‘cause I really enjoy playing those goofy little fuckers.  I already re-obtained Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga on the Xbox 360 – ‘cause it has Achievements, whereas the PS3 version doesn’t have trophies – so I said, “What the fuck,” and bought the rest of them.  Relatively cheap.  I went ahead and got the other two that didn’t have trophies on the PS3 for the Xbox (Lego Batman and Lego Indiana Jones), and ordered the rest on the PS3.  I got them today, and, well, there was a mishap.  One of the games I got for the PS3 was Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, and instead, the folks selling this copy through Amazon saw it upon themselves to send me the Xbox 360 version instead.  And this probably wouldn’t be a problem at all if, well… if I hadn’t already scored 56% of the trophies on the PlayStation 3.  So, now I have to make a very unexpected trip to GameStop tomorrow to fix the situation, ‘cause I’m not fond of returning things.  I’ll just trade it in instead.  I’ve got a few other games I wanna trade in, anyway, so it’ll make it easier.  Dumping off F.E.A.R., The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare for the PS3 because they don’t have trophies, and I have the last two already on the 360.  Hopefully I can pick up F.E.A.R. for the 360 and Lego Pirates for the PS3 tomorrow, but we’ll see.

But, wait!  There’s More!

I don’t just play video games and try to get all the trophies and achievements, mind you.  I also do other stuff.  Like work.   I got a job, y’know!  But one of the other things I do that eats up a lot of my free time that my writer’s muscle doesn’t like is read a LOT of comic books, because comic books are an essential and important part of the human imagination’s diet.  You like to not think so, but then you pay ten bucks to go see a comic book character beat up some dudes on a giant screen and lazily lay there snarfing down all your popcorns and sodas that cost you just as much as it does me to make one trip to the comic shop.  Only I get more outta it!

Been reading Rick Remender’s run on Uncanny X-Force from beginning to end, and while I wasn’t caught up on all things X-Force prior to the Uncanny X-Force series, but I have to say it wasn’t required reading.  The original X-Force book was created by Rob Liefeld and others from the declining-in-sales New Mutants book and was reimagined as a high-octane action adventure book revolving around mutant affairs, instead of being just a bunch of kids learning stuff at school.  Which isn’t all that interesting of an idea, even though I’m not so sure that’s what the original New Mutants book was about.  I wouldn’t know.  I never went near it because it didn’t have an X in the title.  My rationale was pretty retarded when I was a kid.  The new X-Force was reconfigured to be an elite strike team of X-Men that had no qualms about pulling no quarter when it came to killing folks.  So, naturally, the team was led by the one and only Wolverine.  Like how all that connects?

Uncanny X-Force comes after that X-Force title, and Wolverine has his team of wholesale slaughters still in effect: himself, Archangel, Psylocke, Deadpool, and Fantomex.  Only, this book goes pretty deep.  It deals with the Apocalypse.  Not the Christian Apocalypse, or the end of the Mayan Calendar apocalypse, but THE Apocalypse.  En Sabah Nur, Marvel’s FIRST mutant.  Born in ancient Egypt, En Sabah Nir was born with special abilities and eventually became selected by the Celestials, cosmic being things that do stuff, to ensure that evolution was kept on its proper path.  It wasn’t.  Apocalypse was killed (more than once, if I remember right), and eventually, Archangel becomes his heir.  So that’s what Uncanny X-Force was about, and it’s INSANE.  It’s insanely hilarious, insanely violent, insanely well drawn and well written, and insanely good.

I also made my first weekly trip to a comic shop to pick up physical comics in four years.  I’ve been reading digitally for quite some time now, but I wanted real comics.  Real paper comics.  And I got them.  But I haven’t touched them yet.  I did manage to find a hardcover collection of the first eleven issues of the pre-Rick Remender X-Force X-Force book and snagged that happily enough.  I also ordered vol. 2 of that same series.  Excitement.  A part of me feels sad for non-comic book reading folks.  What hollow lives you live.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Summer of Platinum # 2

Enter the Wolverine

Wolverine was first introduced to the world in 1974 via a cameo appearance in The Incredible Hulk # 180, with his first full appearance coming an issue later.  Wolverine was a spit fire character, short and stocky, that was sent by the Canadian government to kill the Hulk.  Since that time the character has grown wildly away from his original inception (the claws were originally supposed to be JUST part of his gloves) and has become the default, go-to-character to symbolize Marvel Comics’ X-Men franchise.  Wolverine was brought into the X-Men fold in 1975, a year after his introduction, as part of an attempt to inject new blood and new life into the pretty much dead X-Men comic with Giant-Size X-Men # 1.  If I remember correctly, up to that point, the X-Men had been all but cancelled and had been little more than a showcase book that was reprinting the earlier issues drawn by Jack Kirby and written by Stan Lee.  GSXM put four of the original X-Men (Marvel Girl, Iceman, Beast, and Angel) in extreme danger, and left Cyclops and Professor X to form a new team of X-Men to rescue them.  The team was made up of international characters, of which the Canadian of the group was Wolverine.  The goal of the issue and the re-launch was successful and the X-Men took off again.

Several years later, in 1982, Wolverine would get his own series as his popularity grew and grew.  This series was written by Chris Claremont who had taken over the writing of the X-Men title (which was eventually redubbed The Uncanny X-Men) in 1975, and illustrated by some hot shot illustrator named Frank Miller.  Miller and Claremont’s mini-series (of which was the basis for the new 

Wolverine film coming out this summer) escalated Wolverine’s popularity even further.  Wolverine would eventually begin appearing in titles he wasn’t normally related to in order to push the books into a better sales strata.  He appeared multiple times in the Punisher War Journal, a handful of times in the Amazing Spider-Man, amongst other titles, much to the distaste of long-term fans that didn’t care for the character, or would grow to dislike the character because he was appearing everywhere.  During the 1990s, Wolverine’s mysterious past kept digging up to bite him in the ass, though the publishers at the time wouldn’t get into too much detail about what happened.  In the early 2000s, ORIGIN was released, written by Joe Quesada, Paul Jenkins and Bill Jemas, and illustrated by Andy Kubert.  ORIGIN dealt with Wolverine’s youth and the moment his powers kicked in and some of his history in the late 1800s.  This comic series served as a basis for a good deal of the X-Men Origins: Wolverine film, which the video game is based on.

I first met Wolverine in 1985 in the mini-series Kitty Pryde and Wolverine.  Instantly he was my favorite character I had ever been introduced to; it was also my first comic.  In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Wolverine continued to be my favorite character (with a slight nod and tip of the hat to Spider-Man) and through him, the entire world of the X-Men.  I adored and consumed everything Marvel published with that giant X on the cover.  When the first X-Men film came out I was delighted and overjoyed by Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of the character, and am very glad he’s continued to keep with the role despite the bloated whale that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

It isn’t a good film by any stretch of the imagination.  I enjoy it, but that’s because I’m very biased when it comes to anything X-Related.  The film attempted to cram too much X-Men mythology into a ninety minute film (as did its predecessor, X-Men: The Last Stand) and it suffered because of it.  The game is a different creature altogether, however.  While it shares a lot of the same plot as the film, the game was originally intended to be a stand-alone effort with no connection to the film, and it was somewhat late in the development of the game that it was brought into the fold; right along with character models based on the actors from the film and voice acting by Hugh Jackman and Live Shreiber.  The game has significant plot differences from the film as well as one massive epic fight sequence (entirely playable) against a Sentinel, which still has yet to be seen on the movie screen.  These differences between the movie and the game give the game a whole lot more oomph than the film has, as well as thinning out the bloated feel of it.

The Best There Is

Not quite in the realm of video games, but he’s getting much closer.  Wolverine’s history in video games is pretty short and usually little more than a half-assed effort just to capitalize on the Wolverine name and the X-Men brand.  This game is a step in the right direction, and it’s the first game created to give players the “ultimate” Wolverine experience.  There’s the healing factor (it’s pretty hard to die in the game, unless you really fuck up), there’s the heightened senses (which just change the color of things on the screen, you don’t actually hear better or smell anything, which is probably a good thing on that smelling better part); and then there’s the claws.  Those beyond-razor-sharp claws made out of Adamantium, that fictional metal from the Marvel Universe that’s unbreakable.  Mix that with the tenacity of Wolverine and a whole lot of hacking and slashing, and you’re literally covered in blood and limbs are flying constantly.

But it’s not quite the best comic book based video game out there.  Marvel’s video games don’t seem to be taken all that seriously by the main Marvel company, and are given lighter efforts than a lot of other video games.  Video games that are made solely to be video games first and foremost are always the best sort of games out there.  Licensed games can often be fun, but seem to always lack ingenuity, attention to detail, and all the other bells and whistles that make video games great.  Wolverine isn’t very different.  It’s a step in the right direction, sure; but when you compare it to say a Metal Gear Solid, it pales horribly.  Then there’s DC’s current efforts.  DC has suffered from the same problems that Marvel has with video games for almost the same amount of time until Batman: Arkham Asylum was released in 2009.  This was the first time I can remember that any licensed property was taken just as seriously as an original property was and given the best efforts the dev team could come up with.  Arkham Asylum can and has gone head to head with many of my favorite games and franchises for my attention and has won on numerous occasions.  As has its sequel, Batman: Arkham City.  I can tell that Marvel doesn’t take its video game properties seriously when you play a game like Marvel vs. Capcom 3, which I thought was a very amazing effort once again by Capcom, and you beat it, and your given second-string art for the endings instead of getting some of the guys that have been making Marvel look extremely pretty over the last decade or so.  Guys like Bryan Hitch, or Steve McNiven, or Mike Deodato Jr, or even Joe Quesada himself.  It’s all very sub-par art, the kind you used to see on Marvel’s lesser tier books back in the 80s and 90s.  Marvel’s got a long way to go in the game development department, but seeing as how the Mouse owns them now, and the Mouse just shut down LucasArts to license out all the Star Wars games, I doubt this will happen any time soon.

The combat engine of Wolverine is very similar to the combat of the Action RPGs that Activision published for Marvel on the last generation and this generation of consoles (X-Men: Legends, X-Men: Legends II, Marvel Ultimate Alliance and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2) with a little bit of God of War thrown into the mix.  It’s not an original design by any means, but it is most certainly a fitting one.  Mashing the buttons along in this game doesn’t seem all that out of place for a character like Wolverine; especially if you take his berserker rage into consideration.  You can gain some special abilities, but they’re not very useful most of the time in the game as the basic attacks and the lunge attacks are more than sufficient to dispose all the bland and un-inspired enemies.  The most difficult areas of the game, especially when the combat comes into play, are the boss fights.  The fights against Sabretooth, the Blob, Gambit, and that thing they call Deadpool but isn’t at all Deadpool.

Despite that somewhat recycled control mechanics of the game, it does have a unique feel to it.  Which is pretty important when there are other games of this same genre that simply outclass it across the board.  This isn’t God of War or Devil May Cry by any stretch of the imagination, but with the addition of Wolverine and is unique set of abilities it does tend to stand out.  Wolverine’s healing factor alone makes the game a bit unique as he tends to take damage from all points and can be rendered little more than a bloody metal skeleton at times.  It’s actually fascinating to finish disposing of the badguys in any given area, try to get the camera as close as you possibly can to the character to see the damage and exposed innards of the character, and then watch him heal.  The wounds close shut, the flesh regrows, and it’s pretty effin’ cool to see.  Even after all these years since the game’s release, I still get a kick out of watching it.  Then there’s also the somewhat unique experience the game offers by being set in the gigantic Marvel Universe – even if it is just an extended version of the X-Men movie version of the Marvel Universe.  If Marvel was smart about their video games they could expand on the already existing Marvel Universe from the comics by creating games that are comparable in scope.  Wolverine is just the tip of the iceberg.  When you battle the Sentinel, you get a small glimpse of how massive this Universe really is.

But then there’s the Unreal Engine 3.  This is my least favorite graphics engine in video games today.  The only dev teams that I’ve seen handle this engine without any fault are Epic Games – which is expected ‘cause they created the engine – in their Gears of War franchise, Rocksteady with their efforts in the two Batman games, and BioWare with the Mass Effect series of games.  This engine is plagued with glitches that go from poor drawback, to irritating pop-in effects.  Often times in this game, and a whole lot of others, you’ll see a multi-colored blob show up on screen and the details will slowly pop-in after a few seconds.  And unfortunately, Wolverine is one of the worst offenders.  Horrible pop-in on an all-too-frequent basis, and sometimes enemies will appear on the screen just standing their long before they’re supposed to spawn in the game.  The Leviathan creature is the worst at this.  Despite all this, the game has one of the coolest openings I’ve seen this generation.  The Team X helicopter is blown out of the sky, and Wolverine plummets to the ground, but he pops his claws just in time to land claw-first on a badguy and creates a lovely impact crater for his efforts.  It’s ridiculously neat.

Of course, as with all these action adventure type games, you can level Wolverine up and learn new moves, and make him more lethal.  It’s interesting and fun, but for some reason I think it’s unnecessary due to the game being about Wolverine.  This game is centered around one of the most badass and ruthless characters in the Marvel Universe.  Levelling him up is superfluous and instead, what the game should’ve done, in my opinion, is just become more challenging and difficult because that’s what you do to a character like Wolverine: you put him through hell.  He’s relatively unkillable, he’s almost indestructible, and he very well could live forever if left alone.  You make his life hell, levelling him up in a game like this makes the game easier, not more difficult.  If you level Wolverine up to the max, nothing stands a chance, and there’s no challenge in the game anymore.  When doing a game centered on a licensed character, you revolve the entire game around that character by challenging him.  This is what Rocksteady did with Batman in Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, and this is even what Beenox did with Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions.  One of the cool features of the game, though, is playing it out of context.  The game flashes back and forth between pre- and post-Weapon X Wolverine events.  You get the bone claws and you get the Adamantium claws.  It’s interesting visual, and pretty fun, but there’s no design difference between the two, which is unfortunate.  Also in this game, as expected, are the collectables you can find, and even some Easter Eggs thrown in for good measure.  You can collect “action figures” which unlock various costumes for Wolverine, his old brown and tan one, his black and yellow one, and his X-Force black and grey with red eyes looks are in the game.  You can find other additives as well that extend gameplay functions, and then there’s the dog tags.  The dog tags you can find on random corpses of soldiers decorated and hidden throughout the game, and there’s ninety-five of them total.  And it’s these pesky little additives that have stood in my way of obtaining that platinum trophy.

The Devil’s Brigade

My first attempt at gathering up all these annoyances came just shortly after I collected every other trophy in the game.  I don’t know why I do this, but I always put these collection trophies on the back burner while I try to get all the others, and it always comes back to bite me in the ass.  I did it with Wolverine and I did it with Assassin’s Creed II; and I’m sure there are others floating out there as well.  I can’t remember what game it was, but there was one I played that had a collectible trophy similar to this one and I did it all by myself.  No guides, no help; nothing.  So of course that stoked my little ego too much and I thought I could do it with every game.  Then came this game, and no matter how hard I tried, or how many times I went looking for them – thank you chapter select – I just couldn’t find them.  I played through the game three or four times this way from beginning to end looking for these bastards, with and without using the heightened senses vision, and found nothing.

My second attempt, which was another three or four playthroughs of the game, I printed off a guide from and checked them all off as I went, and somehow still managed to not find them all.  I believe that this guide I printed off was copied from what I’m about to talk about next because it was missing one or two.

My last attempt came a year or so ago when I finally said, “Fuck it,” and bought the official strategy guide from BradyGames.  I do not buy BradyGames strategy guides on principle alone.  Nor Prima for that matter.  It has to be a really pretty hardcover book with some nice pages of artwork for me to buy these bastard books because they absolutely suck.  They’re written horribly, the information they give is often wrong or, as in the case with this particular game, it’s missing a lot of it.  The game only lists ninety-two or ninety-three of the dog tags.  I followed the guide line by line, page by page, picking them up, and checking them off as I went.  I didn’t miss a single one that the guide showed me, but when I checked my stats at the end of the game ‘cause the trophy didn’t bing; I was missing two or three.  I think it was two.  Then I went back and counted.  Yep, missing information.  And this isn’t something new with this company (or Prima) but because these two are the only publishers of these books, gamers are being duped and cheated out of their money on a regular basis.  I only ever suggest books by Piggyback Interactive.  While distributed by Prima in the United States, this publisher is independent of Prima and their bullshit tactics when it comes to guides.  Piggyback are in the same vein as the now defunct Versus Books in that they take care not to spoil anything plot wise to the player, and they cover everything that will be included in the game at launch.  They also have awesome extras, such as the beastiary in the Resident Evil 5 guide; interviews with the creators of the games; game histories; and all sorts of other cool stuff.  The collector’s editions of their books come in wonderful hardcovers and more pages of neat stuff.  Prima and BradyGames are butt.  Needless to say, after that last attempt I was about ready to give up on collecting these dog tags, until I decided to do this little project.

Current Status

Sometimes you just don’t need to waste money on guides at all, and I wouldn’t if I weren’t a collector of Piggyback’s guides.  The Internet is a wonderful and immediately accessible database of information, and that includes video game information.  And gamers, despite all the bad press we get from how some of us behave out in the real world, or in online competitive games such as Halo or Call of Duty, we love to help one another in the overall theme of things.  Not too long ago I discovered, a game site dedicated to PlayStation news as well as listing every trophy imaginable for every game published on disc, on the PlayStation Network, or even in Japan.  Then there are the forums for this place, which can include massive trophy guides for games, i.e., strategy guides that center around on getting trophies for games.  I found this place first ‘cause I was trying to find what a few games hidden trophies were so I could get them faster, since then it’s been a valuable resource for trophies that are nothing but a pain in my ass to get.  They also have a sister site called that does the same thing for Xbox games.  So I found a hopefully very reliable guide to help me get these bastard dog tags.  I’m at forty out of ninety-five so far, and I’ve not missed a single one.  I should be finally able to platinum X-Men Origins: Wolverine after all this time.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Summer of Platinum # 1

Single Trophy Blues

Welcome to the first entry in a series of Summer-long entries that are going to be devoted to my attempt to earn the Platinum trophy on as many PlayStation 3 games as I possibly can between the months of May and September.  If you're not aware, Trophies were Sony's response to Microsoft's Achievements on the XBox 360, with the added bonus of the bragging rights bing and notification of the Platinum.  I'm glad they added these little things and I'm thankful for Microsoft for bringing them to consoles (I really don't know where these things come from, to be honest) because it's driven me to do a lot of things I wouldn't normally do in video games.  Like constantly replaying the same games over and over, for instance.  On every generation that has come before the one we're in now, I'd finish a game and be done with it.  Including games like Final Fantasy VII, God of War, and so on and so forth.  The only came I continued to play no matter how many times I completed it was Castlevania: Symphony of the Night; not including fighting games of course.  Everything else was pretty much a one-hitter-quitter.

When the Trophy system was first implemented in July, 2008, and I got that first bing and pop-up notification, I began tracking and collecting as many trophies as I could from the games I tend to play (which is a lot).  These new little added bonuses have seen me play through several RPGs multiple times, as well as action adventure titles, first person shooter games, and who knows what else, trying to do things that normally I wouldn't care about.  And then there's the Platinum Trophy.  A special added bonus that isn't available to the XBox 360 that's really just there for bragging rights.  It's an I DID EVERYTHING sort of trophy, because it actually requires you to do EVERYTHING all the other trophies require you to do in order to obtain it.  It's intensely nerdy, absolutely frustrating, but for some reason it's a very satisfying experience.  At least for me.

So, I decided to blog about my adventures in trying to get as many Platinum Trophies over the Summer as I possibly can, which I'm pretty sure I've already stated, and thus, I'm repeating myself, sharing with whomever it is that reads this thing that intensely nerdy side of myself all for the sake of shits and giggles.

The Single Trophy Blues comes about when you need one meager little trophy to bing off in the top right corner before you get that Platinum one.  These trophies somehow manage to elude you for any number of reasons.  It could be that you need a partner to help you get it, as is the case for me in Resident Evil 5 where the trophy War Hero is all that is needed for me to get the Platinum Trophy, We Will Survive.  To get the War Hero trophy, you need to beat all chapters on Professional difficulty, which is nothing but a frustrating pain in the ass to even attempt to do by yourself.  Mostly because Sheva is a piece of shit when she's controlled by the AI and is always dying at every turn.  And in a game like this, where the co-op is forced upon you, you almost always have to do something hokey like running across the map 'cause Sheva got stuck and killed and you need to revive her.

Or the trophies can be ridiculously simple, but for some reason or another you just can't get it.  Like Devil's Brigade, a single bronze trophy in X-Men Origins: Wolverine that requires the player to find all the dog tags decorated throughout the game.  I've attempted this on many occasions, and every single time there's one set of dog tags that I can't ever locate.  I tried it four or five times by myself, and then additional four or five times using various guides on the Internet and even the official strategy guide on one occasion.  The official strategy guide had all but one listed in the book, which I suppose is to be expected from Brady Games (or Prima for that matter, as both publishers put out the shittiest strategy guides in video gaming).

Or they can be the closest thing to a nightmare as possible, at least for me.  Such is the case for the Hard to the Core trophy from Dead Space 2.  This trophy requires the player to beat the game on Hard Core mode, which isn't all that difficult as far as monsters and combat and the like goes; but it's made more difficult in that there are no check points in the games, items are a bit rarer to find, and you only get three saves the entire game.  You have to practically memorize the game inside and out before attempting it and knowing where the best save points are (i.e. the ones right before you die a horrible death) and you have to avoid making any mistakes whatsoever (like backing up into environmental hazards that lead to instant death, whoops!).

These are the games I'm going to begin this summer with.  I'll try to record every little detail; every triumph and failure; and every time I want to poke a game dev in the eye for subjecting me to this nonsense.

Double the Dosage

Surprisingly, I don't have many games that need just two trophies to get the Platinum.  Just one game, actually.  God of War III.  Unfortunately, they're both trophies that I'm not very excited to even attempt in any sort of way.  Unhuman is the first one that requires the player to beat the game on Titan Mode, which is the game's hardest difficulty setting, and it's not a setting that's very Dameyon-Friendly.  I've made two attempts at it already, and both times I saw myself turned into a pile of mush over and over again at the hands of sub-boss after sub-boss.  I didn't have any problems with the bosses, the Gods themselves, but the sub-bosses were awful little bastards.

The second one is Up to the Challenge, which revolves around beating the Challenge of Olympus, and the God of War challenge modes aren't something to just wink at and give a quick smirk two.  They're horrible little things that can (and probably have) lead to the death of many controllers across the world.  I've finished these challenges on three different God of War games (God of War, Chains of Olympus, and Ghost of Sparta), but God of War II and III aren't a whole lot of fun for myself.  I'll get 'em done, but it's gonna take a lot of effort.

Infectious Trifecta

The games that need only three trophies don't number very high either, including only Assassin's Creed II and God of War II.

God of War II has Bleeding Thumbs, which is another challenge-based trophy; Eye Sore, which requires the player to collected twenty Cyclops' eyes; and You Know the Germans Make Good Stuff... which requires the player to collect all the Uber Chests.  I would have had the last two by now if I kept at it, but I got side-tracked by a plethora of other games.  The challenge one is another butt-clenching situation of frustration.  Whatever that is.  I'm gonna be a bit miffed if these two challenge trophies for God of War II and III turn out to be rather easy to get after failing so many times before.

Assassin's Creed II is a bit more humiliating.  These three trophies are ones that I was going to get after I had finished the game a few years ago because they're all very easy to get with one just being rather time consuming.  But I lost my save file and now I have to start over from the beginning of the game and play it through to the end in order to unlock all the cities and whatnot.  I have In Memory of Petruccio, where I need to collect all the feathers; Show Your Colors, where I need to wear the Auditore cape in each city; and Sweeper, where I have to sweep five guards at once by using a long weapon like a pike or a spear.  All three are bronze trophies.  The one good thing about this one is that I've been wanting to replay all the Assassin's Creed games leading up to Assassin's Creed III for a while -- especially since the last time I gave it a whirl, I had completely forgotten how to play Assassin's Creed III.

The Fantastic Four and Fox Force Five

I got three games in this section.  Dragon Age: Origins and Batman: Arkham Asylum both have four trophies needed, and Mass Effect 2 has five.

Dragon Age: Origins has Easy Lover which requires a romantic relationship with Zevran which is the most annoying character in the game to me.  I hate that guy.  Then there's Hopelessly Romantic, which will automatically trigger once I hook up with Zevran.  Kinslayer's next which requires me to complete the Dward Noble origin story, which I tried to do before, but it gliched out and the other dwarves wouldn't stand where they were supposed to.  I wonder if I still have my Dragon Age game saves.  Prolly not!  Then there's this pain in the ass one called Perfectionist which says, "Across all playthroughs, discovered all possible endings," which I don't even know what all the endings are or what ones I've got!

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a stupid one.  The game is amazing, don't get me wrong, but the trophies are need aren't fun to get at all -- which may make them more satisfying to get.  The first one is Freeflow Silver, where  I gotta get sixteen medals on combat challenges, followed by Freeflow Gold where I gotta get 24 medals.  These aren't easy for me to do because some of the maps you do the combat challenges on are ridiculously hard.  Floors get all electric-shocky-like and whatnot.  Then there's Predator Gold which requires 24 medals on Predator Challenges, which aren't easy either.  Each map has three requirements you need to get to get the medals for.  I'm not sure if you need to get all three in one attempt, or if you can get one, then another on a different playthrough; etc.  Then there's Perfect Knight, which needs 100% completion to get, which, along with the Platinum, will automatically ping when I get those other three trophies.

Mass Effect 2 is just butt.  It's a butt experience filled with butt situations that are all butt.  And not good butt, neither.  Mud butt type butt.  If only because of the Insanity trophy which says I gotta beat the game on Insanity Difficulty -- which I've done on Mass Effect 3, but for some reason ME2 just says, NO, YOU'RE NOT GONNA DO IT, FUCKHEAD.  So I don't do it.  The character I play just doesn't seem to jive with the horrible butt situation that is Insanity Difficulty.

To Infinity And Beyond

Or something to that effect.  The rest of the games are too plentiful and the trophies to bountiful to continue listing what I need to get to grab the Platinum and run.  I have pretty close to two-hundred games now and while not all of them have Platinum trophies, or are even on the PlayStation 3; there's still a lot to go through and cover 'em all in this one little entry.

As a bonus, however, since I've just recently acquired an XBox 360 for the first time, I'm also gonna cover the achievements I gather in a little section at the bottom of each entry.

And that's it.  Pretty lame, really, but it's all in an effort to keep me writing more.