Today I reached an Xbox 360 gamerscore of 50,000.
It’s possible this was not the best use of my time.
(For anyone who’s interested, the 10 games I’ve completed–i.e., gotten all the achievements for–are Bioshock, Bioshock Infinite, Borderlands 2, Fallout 3, The Walking Dead, Skyrim, Oblivion, Assassin’s Creed II, Fez, and Minecraft–all of which earn my seal of approval.)
Nevertheless, since I’ve spent so much time gaming over the last 7 years, I think I’ll take some time to revisit some of my favorite games from that time.
Bioshock (Both Finite and Infinite)
I’d played a lot of games through my childhood, but it wasn’t until college that I found the game I’d measure all other games by. I’m hard-pressed to think of other games that rival Bioshock in terms of atmosphere, environment, and storytelling. I’ve played through this game four or five times, found every audio diary, every plasmid, every gene tonic, and gotten every achievement the game had to offer. I don’t regret a minute spent with this game.
The same can be said for its successor, Bioshock Infinite.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you may remember my review for Bioshock Infinite when it first came out. My feelings haven’t softened…if anything, my love for the game has only grown with time, as well as the Burial At Sea DLCs that tied up the franchise’s remaining loose ends.
Na-naaaaaa, na na na na na na, na na-na na na-na naaaaaaa…
The surreal joy that is Katamari cannot be described. It must be seen, or, better, played.
You roll your Katamari around, picking up everything. Everything. Starting by picking up playing cards and thimbles at an inch high, you grow in size with everything you pick up, until you’re rolling up pets, people, office buildings, or entire planets. All to a manically cheerful and catchy soundtrack. It’s one of the best things ever.
Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil’s taken a few wrong turns in recent years, but that doesn’t take away from the excellence that is Resident Evil 4.
Why does it stand out? The story is more silly than anything. It’s a horror game, but not one that’s particularly scary. It’s ostensibly survival horror, but it’s more action than survival.
But it’s just so damn fun. I’ve practically got the level layouts memorized, they’re so beautifully designed. The gunplay requires a combination of patient aiming and quick reflexes. And nothing’s quite as satisfying as emptying clips into a tentacled monstrosity controlled by a demented Napoleon-channeling old-man-child.
Now if you want a horror game that’s genuinely scary…
I only played this game a few weeks ago, but it’s already leaped onto my list of scariest games ever (probably from the vent it was lurking in). I spent most of the game cowering in terror, trying not to make any noise to attract the xenomorph that guarantees an almost-certain insta-death. Even the assistance of the motion tracker just served to fuel my paranoia even further. Unlike the similar alien-horror Dead Space games, you can’t rely on music cues to know whether or not you’re safe. Death could be waiting around any corner, still and silent, waiting to pounce.
Fallout 3 and Skyrim
Fallout 3 and Skyrim are like the opposing sides of the sci-fi/fantasy coin. Both developed by Bethesda, these sprawling games are the definition of open-world RPG. I’ve gotten every achievement these games have, but you never really finish a Bethesda RPG. There’s too much out there to fully exhaust the full detail of the world.
Fallout 3 probably wins out for its emotional moments and karmic decision-making, but if you count Skyrim and its older brother Oblivion, I’ve spent a lot more time in Tamriel than the East Coast post-apocalyptic wasteland.
Also, if you’ve ever wondered what the life of a Skyrim NPC is like, look no further than Christopher Livingston’s hilarious blog series The Elder Strolls.
This may seem like the odd man out on this list, but Hexcells’ simple graphics contain one of the best designed puzzle games I’ve played. It plays like a hexagonal Minesweeper, but every puzzle unfolds like an origami swan, requiring no guessing, only careful reasoning. The soft colors and gentle musical tones make it as enjoyable aesthetically as it is logically.
Portal and The Orange Box
In February 2008, I purchased The Orange Box for $40.
It’s still one of the best gaming buys I’ve made.
This was the box that got me hooked on serious gaming. The Half-Life series, despite its unsure future, remains one of my favorites, and according to Steam, I’ve spent 279 hours in Team Fortress 2 alone. Even seeing the cover for The Orange Box gives me fuzzy feelings of nostalgia.
But the reason I bought it was Portal. The physics and portal based puzzles, the sadistic sense of humor, and, of course, the end credits song. I’ve played many games since then, but they were all because of Portal.
So I thought it was only fitting to finish my 50,000 with an achievement from Portal. I’d played it first on Steam, so there were still some achievements left on 360, including, quite fortuitously, a 5G achievement called Long Jump.
It has been a long jump. From 2008 to what will soon be 2015. From 18 to 25. From fledgling gamer to…whatever I am now. As I said in Death of a Gamer, I think my gaming days are numbered. I don’t think I’m done gaming yet, but it’s time for video games to step down and let another pastime take center stage.
With a little luck, I might channel that energy back into writing. My book’s coming along well, and I hope to have it finished by next summer. Then maybe I can start counting copies sold instead of video game points. Or blog views.
Click. Refresh. Click. Refresh. Click. Refresh…
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How did I get 50,000 Gamerscore? Well, it helps to master the hunt for the wild video game collectible. It also helps to have a crippling and frequently embarrassing lack of social skills.