TA Top Five: Bad Achievement Lists

By Chewie, 2 years ago
Last week, we took the suggestions for upcoming TA Top Five articles to you, the lovely community. Your many suggestions bore a lot of fruit and replenished our list nicely. Today, we bring you a list suggested by Unleashed Spawn, who wanted to see "Games You Wish Had Better Achievements".

There are many games out there which have achievements in them that make you question the sanity of whomever cooked them up. Most of the time, this is thankfully relegated to just one or two bad eggs in an otherwise tolerable list, so it's only a real bother to the dedicated completionsists out there, whilst the rest of us filthy casuals can mostly ignore them. However, sometimes the stench of badly conceived achievements permeates a game's entire list. It is these noxious lists full of rancid achievements that this week's Top Five is dedicated to.

Dishonourable Mention

Any Game With Multiple Unobtainables That Never Get Patched
A list to make a completionist weepA list to make a completionist weep

I suppose technically this whole list could be considered dishonourable, but you can't talk about being frustrated by dodgy achievement lists without giving unobtainables a mention. Most casual gamers and some others on this very site probably don't care too much about an achievement or two not popping when it's supposed to. For those of this community who hold their completion percentages dear however, unobtainables in an achievement list represent a bad apple that ruins the whole barrel. The rest of the list could be great, but completionists will actively avoid games that contain them, meaning they miss out on experiences that could otherwise be great.

What's worse is that these achievements often don't get fixed, meaning these games shall forever have their lists sullied; games like Rayman Raving Rabbids, Monster Madness: Battle for Suburbia, College Hoops 2K7, Carrier Command: Gaea Mission and Brain Challenge HD (WP). Even if the game appeals to some players, many won't touch them so as to retain their completion or out of principle as a way of protesting the developer's decision not to patch it. Or, you know, you could just play them anyway, completion be damned. Sacrilege, I know.

Honourable Mentions:

South Park: The Stick of Truth
Fighting the final battle as the Hoff is just one of many, many missablesFighting the final battle as the Hoff is just one of many, many missables

Now, don't get me wrong, I love how varied and creative the achievements in this game are. They're some of the funniest and funnest around. What other game tasks you with crapping yourself, farting variously and profusely, being a pervert and...doing this?

As a whole though, there's one serious thing wrong with the list; there are far, far too many missables (almost half of the entire list). With so many missables, if you're planning on completing the game in minimal playthroughs, you'll need a guide to help you avoid missing things. This constrains the way you play and makes completing the game reliant on meticulous planning, diminishing the fun factor considerably and upping the stress levels when you start to worry whether or not you remembered to befriend Clyde at the beginning.

Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons
This could feasibly be the last thing you do in the game, a couple of chapters away from the actual endingThis could feasibly be the last thing you do in the game, a couple of chapters away from the actual ending

I actually really love the achievements that are in this game's list because they're all completely optional side things that reward players for doing something off the beaten path, making for a unique completion experience. You can play the whole game without popping a single one. The only issue is that the flip side to this is that you can also pop all of them without finishing the game, meaning that some achievement hunters may not bother completing the story once they've got their 400G, which is a damned shame. Just one achievement for finishing the game could've ensured people play it through to the bitter end and experience its emotional climax. Another game notorious around these parts for giving out all its achievements long before the story is over (within five minutes of starting it, to be precise) is Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Burning Earth, but in that case you aren't particularly missing much.

Top Five

5. Fight Night Round 3
Headbutting and low-blowing your way to completionHeadbutting and low-blowing your way to completion

A lot of early Xbox 360 games have piddling little lists with no variety. It seemed to take a bit of time for some developers to really get into the groove of exploiting the new system and making the most out of it with longer, more varied lists. This one takes the biscuit though as, not only are there only eight achievements, but all of them are missable as they require you to win specific sponsored fights in the career mode. Yes, sponsored. The achievements are also basically just adverts for the game's sponsors. Shameless. The small, entirely missable and shameless-plug nature of the list isn't the only bad thing though. The best way of ensuring victory to get all the achievements is by turning on illegal moves and using those moves throughout the fights to win, so to complete the game you're actually better off playing it really badly. The whole list is literally a low blow.

4. Deadly Premonition
Even Detective Francis York Morgan can't believe how poor the achievement list isEven Detective Francis York Morgan can't believe how poor the achievement list is

This game is a bit of a marmite one, with people either loving it or hating it. One thing is certain though, the achievement list is extremely unimaginative, which is a shame seeing as the game itself is so very, very imaginative. It only has a measly twelve achievements, most of which are purely progression based. There's a single achievement related to the game's collectible trading cards, which does encourage you to explore the game as much as possible. However, with so many things to do and interesting characters to meet, it's a shame that there aren't more achievements related to doing specific things in the game's weird and wacky world, pushing players to experience everything it has to offer.

The list also commits the sin of having non-stackable difficulty achievements, forcing multiple playthroughs at each difficulty. Then again, if you love it as much as many people do, you'll want to play it multiple times. You just shouldn't be forced to. Another very big and varied game with a relatively small achievement list is Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition, which mostly only tasks you with scratching the surface of what the game has to offer. Minecraft: Xbox One Edition's list is bigger and better, but still doesn't make use of the ability to add achievements with Title Updates so all the new stuff regularly added isn't accounted for. So much to do, so little to achieve.

3. Perfect Dark Zero
One down, 999 to go.  Then onto the next 1,000...One down, 999 to go. Then onto the next 1,000...

This is another example of an early title where they hadn't perfected the art of achievement list design. Far from it. 38 of the game's 50 achievements are dedicated to the multiplayer mode, leaving just 12 for the story. Those 12 aren't even given out throughout the campaign either. No, you only get one for completing the whole thing at each difficulty level, both in single-player and co-op. As well as nothing relating to progression, there are no other campaign-related achievements at all.

Even if you accept the hugely multiplayer weighted list, the nature of those multiplayer achievements is also bupkis. It's mostly just doing the same thing 10, then 100, then 1,000 times. Yes, 1,000. You have to do ten different things, like headshots or infections, 1,000 times. The list is one big grindfest, which is a shame, because all that gamerscore could've been much better served on more campaign-based achievements or simply more variety. Perfect Dark Zero isn't the only game to scrimp on story achievements. Lost Planet: Extreme Condition Colonies also dishes out a measly 5G for playing the whole campaign.

2. Pinball FX2
Complete this game you won'tComplete this game you won't

There's nothing wrong with difficult achievements but having a list almost completely dedicated to difficulty and a whole lot of luck actually serves to scare off a lot of achievement hunters and completionists, meaning they miss out on playing decent games. In this humble Wookiee's opinion, a well designed achievement list should be balanced between acknowledgement to players for taking the time to work through the game, pay-off for those who go the extra mile and reward for those noble few who take on the serious challenges. The folks behind the Pinball FX games don't seem to share this outlook.

Although Pinball FX2 (Xbox 360) is mostly very difficult and very luck-based, at least the majority of tables have three or more achievements at different levels of difficulty so you can get rewarded at certain points along the journey towards the toughest ones. However, that principle is mostly ditched in the One version, where 14 of the game's 26 tables just have a single achievement and it's invariably a difficult one, meaning many players won't ever register here that they have those tables and given them a fair shot. And it's not like the achievements that are so darned difficult reward players with a decent gamerscore pay-off. Each of those single achievement tables come with only 10G, so it's not even like it's ultimately worth all the effort. Sure, the hefty ratios give the TA score a boost but it's the principle of the thing. Hundreds of hours of hitting and hoping for 10G across loads of tables? No thanks.

1. Game Room
Welcome to the arcade! Now gimme all your money!Welcome to the arcade! Now gimme all your money!

Like with Perfect Dark Zero, the list suffers from a distinct lack of variety. There are really only a handful of different achievement types and it's mostly just "do this", "now do it some more", "now do it more than that", "now do it so much that you hate this game, your empty wallet, life and everything else". And even to do the few things required, you're actually just going to be doing the same thing: collecting medals. You have to win certain types of medals, certain amounts of medals, play for certain amounts of time in your quest to earn medals and reach certain levels, which you do by earning...you guessed it...medals.

To even approach completing the game requires a massive investment of time and, more importantly, money. Reaching the end of the game at Level 20 requires you to purchase a minimum of 26 games, but probably actually a lot more, as gold medals most likely won't be achieved in many of them. It's not like the whole list is like this though. No, the first handful of achievements are earned very easily and for free by doing things like placing themes, decorations and visiting the arcade. Yes, that's right. There's an achievement for literally just starting the game. That means all those people curious about the free title who started it up but weren't actually ever planning to make the time and money investment to complete it instantly got the game hooked up to their tag, destroying their precious completion percentage and daring them to dump money into playing the game.

Maybe a more forgiving list with a bit more variety, creativity and less reliance on significant monetary outlay would have made this a better pill to swallow, but as it is it's a shamelessly unimaginative money-grabbing list. With the game recently removed from the store and no more arcade titles available to purchase, it's now an uncompleteable one for anyone who hasn't laid down the cash to do so. I'd say RIP, but I wouldn't mean it.

Which achievement lists have made you hang your head on run a mile? What do you think constitutes a really bad list and what are the defining principles of a really good one? Let us know in the comments!

The TA Team will be bringing you The TA Top Five every Sunday until we run out of coolness to debate and discuss. If you have an idea for a Top Five you'd like us to do, be sure to let us know in the comments!
Written by Chewie
Chewie is a Wookiee from Kashyyyk. Since helping the Rebel Alliance defeat the Emperor, he has taken up Achievement-Hunting and Newshoundery on TA. Also, ice-skating.