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.

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