I Smell A Rat

Jak 3 • PlayStation Vita

I finished Rayman Origins this morning and endured a lengthy credits session in the hope that I would get a ‘Game Complete’ trophy, but nothing popped up and I was left a little unsatisfied. I think achievements and trophies should have a nice mix of easy, average and hard, but, most certainly, you should get something for knocking a game on the head. I understand there is a trophy for battling some final boss that pops up once you get all the skeleton teeth, but the game was dragging on a bit and my enthusiasm was wearing thin.

So, with Rayman over, I was a bit stumped with what to play. I didn’t really have anything new downloaded onto the Vita, and that New Little Kings story just makes me want to punch myself in the face, so I launched the third of the Jak and Daxter series to see if Naughty Dog could entertain me.

While I moderately enjoyed the first Jak game (‘The Precursor Legacy’) the second game left me pretty frustrated wandering around town, so I was fairly annoyed to see the same environment – albeit in the desert – at the start of this game. The open-ended gameplay doesn’t really work in this series, and I quickly get lost, frustrated and bored trying to navigate my way around the map.

I figured that this is the first trophy for the game, running around on the back of a llama-type creature and collecting seven rats around the desert town. It wasn’t fun, and I struggled to get to the end of the challenge, but I did it because I had nothing else lined up on my trophy to-do list. Jak 3 isn’t great, but I may pursue it a little longer, hoping that there is some redeeming qualities about the game further down the track.

First Blood

Far Cry 3 • PlayStation 3

I did a play through of FC3 Blood Dragon a few months ago and loved it, so I had fairly mixed emotions about starting Far Cry 3. For all-intents-and-purposes, I thought FC2 was a shambles. Characters felt clunky, the story didn’t quite hit the Joseph Conrad level of mastery that they were shooting for, and the gun play was frustrating at best (and just downright crap the other 99% of the time), so I wanted to see where on the spectrum this third instalment fell.

It’s only early days yet, but already it feels better. Character controls feel heavier (which is a good thing) and the environment and character development/story already has me hooked. This trophy popped about 20 minutes into the game, which was about all the time I had for today, but that was enough to whet my appetite for more!

TP Industries Arms Race

Grand Theft Auto V • PlayStation 3

I am a little bit spoilt for choice at the moment, with Far Cry 3 lined up to play, along with Flight Control Rocket on my phone – both with easy first-level achievements, so I am chipping away at some of the ancillary jobs in GTA V, along with my commute with Rayman Origins. Both have no real ‘easy reach’ achievements for me at this stage, so when one comes along I’m going to post about it.

I had played some of Trevor’s ‘arms race’ missions in the middle of my story game, simply because I love flying. I missed planes in GTA IV, instead making regular trips to the Helitours pad, stealing a chopper and heading a few blocks north to take the armed police equivalent. It’s been a bit the same in GTA V – this time with the military base, as I try, repeatedly, to steal a fighter jet. I’ve managed it a couple of times, but by-and-large I am usually consumed by a blazing inferno of military justice (read: a tank) when I get within a couple of feet. It looks like the military in San Andreas have a ‘spare no expense’ approach when it comes to preventing the theft of your $50 million aircraft.

This morning I polished off what looked to be the last of these ‘arms race’ missions, though the plane was still available to deliver guns after I had finished, so I assume that this is an option for cash-strapped players in the end-game. I tried to steal the plane just so I could go for a quick joy flight before work, but it looks like I’ll have to settle for a trophy instead.

Criss Cross

Assassins Creed III • PlayStation 3

Now that I’ve got my gaming life back, I’ve returned to one of the Assassins Creed series and what I believe to be the final in the Desmond Miles trilogy (I can’t confirm that – I’m still only in the early stages of the game). This morning’s trophy was for the first in the ‘modern day’ chapters, which saw Desmond, essentially, climb a building under construction in New York and then … jump off it.

I’ve been a big fan of AC since I first stepped into Altair’s shoes six years ago, yet I couldn’t really connect with Ezio during AC2 and the subsequent expansions. A bit frustrating, given Ubisoft dedicated so much time to the Ezio story, but I am finding the same equal lack of connection with Conner in AC3 – the difference is that I don’t have another two titles with the Conner story to wade through.

The upgraded engine makes AC3 a much ‘richer’ (?) game to play, and the fantastic opening with Haytham is a lead that future game storytelling should take. I have another ‘three’ title sitting in my to-do list in Far Cry 3, so there should be a bit of variety in my gameplay coming up … interspliced with a bit of Grand Theft Auto V, of course.

To Live or Die in Los Santos

Grand Theft Auto V • PlayStation 3

GTA V Win

Finishing a game is always satisfying. Finishing Grand Theft Auto V (the story at least) is life-changing. I mean that. Since September 17 I have tried to squeeze in some GTA whenever I had the chance, now it just all seems like I have my life back and I can return to Los Santos whenever the mood grabs me.

The other day, I talked about earning a trophy just after midnight with Rayman. I didn’t even have to pad the game out, as I finished the final mission overlooking the Blaine County scenery as the clock struck twelve. I’m paying for it in an unsettled night with the baby. For the record, it’s totally worth it. I went with the commonly accepted ‘C’ ending, as I wanted to continue my Los Santos journey with all three of my main characters (for those who haven’t played – endings A and B end with Michael or Trevor dead, respectively).

I am not sure if the trophy relies on system time, or if it ‘pings’ a server for the correct time, so there’s a possibility that this one might be in my trophy list at a little after 11pm Saturday thanks to daylight savings time. I don’t care … I have ‘finished’ the latest in the GTA franchise and I’m feeling pretty darn good about it too. But just in case you aren’t happy with that, I went and picked up an easy achievement in Thomas Was Alone on PC as well (I’ve got them all on the Vita anyway).

thom-was-alone-achiv

All’s Fare in Love and War

Grand Theft Auto V • PlayStation 3

I was a bit worried about scoring a trophy today, as I knew I had limited time and no quick-and-dirty trophies left for Rayman or GTA V. I did a bit of a hunt around the GTA V trophy list to see what I might be able to reasonably achieve today, and this looked like a good one. So, I made my way down to downtown Los Santos to purchase the Downtown Cab Co. … as Michael, only to be told to “Return as Franklin”. Franklin wasn’t nearby though, was he? No, I had to switch to Frank, then make my way manually to the company as the phone number for the cabs was constantly listed as busy.

When I got there, however, Michael was still hanging around the street!

“Fancy meeting you here!” He exclaimed, and we headed over the road to what appeared to be a biker bar. Of course, once we both had a belly full of booze and a whole heap of bikers standing around, I couldn’t help myself but lay down some gunfire, killing them all. Pretty soon, the cops rocked up and then it was on for young and old, eventually getting wasted in a back alley Pay-‘n-Spray, now the re-badged ‘Los Santos Customs’.

After a few more missions, I noticed a duplicate entry for Downtown Cab Co. in Frank’s phone contacts, so I tried to call them … repeatedly … only to be met with the busy signal. It wasn’t until I was walking around after a ‘Save Lamar from the Wood Mill’ mission that they rang me, and I was soon on my way to drop a larger gentleman off to the Los Santos docks for a ‘conversation’ with The Lost MC. After my second shoot-out with bikers for the day, the trophy popped, and I was able to switch off the PS3 for the morning. Mission Complete.

Now I have to worry about an achievement for tomorrow …

The Government Gimps

Grand Theft Auto V • PlayStation 3

At around 4am this morning, my newborn son woke up wanting a feed. Despite my best intentions, I am a fairly average husband, and I end up sleeping through his crying fifty percent of the time. Yet in the wee hours of the morning, I was already planning how I would be spending the pre-commute minutes – The FIB Raid (Heist) in Grand Theft Auto V.

If you read my post from yesterday, you will see the struggle I had in finishing the heist, and then accidentally killing my colleagues in a car in a small body of water north of Los Santos. Today had no such dramas, and it was a run-and-shoot kind of deal.

Interestingly, I decided to do parts of this heist on-the-cheap, splurging only for Paige the Hacker, who I had grown a sentimental attachment to since the first robbery. The driver and gunman were both below average, so I wanted to see how it would play out. For the most part, it seemed to be dialogue-driven differences until I got to the bottom of the building and was forced to tackle two SUVs worth of N.O.O.S.E. Agents. He also arrived in a fairly old van as well, which made escaping the cops a touch more difficult, though I don’t know if my frugality prompted the van, or it’s just part of the deal.

Grand Theft Auto V is an amazing game. If you’ve played it, you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t, then you’ve probably heard the rest of the world raving about how good it is. I still feel like there is plenty of story to come, and I’ve barely touched the ‘Strangers and Friends’ side missions, so I’m looking forward to many more hours of fun in the great state of San Andreas.

More

Full Mouth

Rayman Origins • PlayStation Vita

Today’s trophy seemed inevitably elusive. At 11.58pm last night I was playing Rayman and had reached the end of my first race against a treasure chest with legs. I knew if I waited a couple of minutes, I could kind of cheat, take the treasure, score a trophy and use it for today’s contribution. But no, I got greedy and took the treasure and got the trophy before midnight, making it null and void.

When you are time-poor, you look for opportunities to squeeze in some gaming. You never know when you’ll have gone entertain family, cook dinner, change a nappy or, the worst, go to work. So for the next half hour, I tackled a bit more Rayman, failed miserably at Street Fighter X Tekken and, for a very small moment, contemplated Flying Hamster HD. As time stretched on, I arrived at the conclusion that no (more) trophies would be forthcoming in the middle of the night.

My next attempt to grab a trophy was a discreet 30 minute block of time to compete the raid on the FIB building in Grand Theft Auto V. A great mission going in ‘guns blazing,’ parachuting in, rappelling down the building and then attempting to escape a four star wanted level. Which I did, no problems. But as the time edged dangerously close to when I needed to leave for work, I thought I could shave a minute or two off the return trip to Franklin’s house with my crew by cutting across a field – which might have worked if there wasn’t a large body of water there for me to drive my car into. Everyone looked to be getting safely out of the car, and if they did I may have been able to partake in the game’s titular activity and still make it back. But no – one of the NPCs must have got stuck in the car or had a seizure or some other fatal incident as the ‘Mission Failed’ prompt splashed across the screen alerting me to the situation.

“That’s OK,” I thought. “Surely the game would have auto saved once I cleared the cops.”

It didn’t. The Mission Retry placed me back at the base of the FIB building with another four wanted stars to try and get rid of. By then it was far too late to make another attempt before work, and I shut down the PS3, wiping the whole marathon attempt.

So, slightly dejected – I was determined not to walk away empty handed today. I returned to Rayman with one goal in mind. Get any trophy possible. I scrolled through the trophy list and saw one for earning five ‘dragon teeth’, which was the treasure that those four-legged treasure chests carry (remember my 11.58pm trophy?). So, spending a meaningful couple of commuting hours racing against treasure chests allowed me to hear that sweet, sweet Silver Trophy ding later this morning – and what a relief!

These races are some of the best Rayman levels I’ve played, but they don’t really unlock until you’ve earned enough pink dots, and even then you quickly get satisfyingly frustrated with the no-save-points and ninja-like reflexes needed to succeed.

Tomorrow I am hoping for another attempt at my GTA trophy, but after a late night, an early start and a busy evening planned, I’m not making any promises…

… except that it won’t be a Flying Hamster HD trophy.

Escape King

New Little King’s Story • PlayStation Vita

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Well, I was wrong about Rayman – it looks like you pretty much have to do the same number of levels again just to save another series of NPCs, but in all honesty, I’m probably going to do just that later today.

I also had hoped to finish attacking the FIB building in Grand Theft Auto V today (with a subsequent trophy), but Rockstar have done a pretty good job of distracting me with fun things to do in Los Santos.

So, with that in mind, I thought I’d expand my gaming repertoire today with a title called New Little King’s Story. I am confused to whether this is a western game making fun of JRPGs (doubtful as this is a Konami title), or if it’s just a shit JRPG (supported by the fact that PSN has the trophy in Japanese!). I managed to hang in there for the tutorial, but I am doubtful that this title will hold any lasting appeal for me. I’ve grown out of reading and clicking through dialogue since gaming advanced beyond Police Quest (undoubtedly the best Sierra title ever), so why on earth there is a niche market for this genre I’ll never know.

Crusher!

Rayman Origins • PlayStation Vita

Another Rayman Origins trophy this morning, and a testament to how much gaming I would miss out on if I didn’t have a Vita!

This one was for crushing 50 enemies, which – depending on your play style – is actually fairly easy in Rayman, particularly in the later levels. I think I’m on the home straight with the ‘core’ Rayman story, as the level select screen has pretty much filled up, and I’m about to start the ‘Cloud’ levels up in the sky. It looks like there are a few quick-and-easy trophies to score once the game is finished (such as replaying a level, or playing a level with a different character), so I’ll try and polish off a few of these before I put Rayman down for good.