Games, Platinum Review

Platinum series: The “worth it” games

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October 11th 2013. The date my 38th platinum trophy pinged onto my screen. The game was New Little King’s Story on PlayStation Vita. The game, though time-consuming, was by no means difficult. Users of trophy hunters haven PS3 Trophies have rated the game a 3.14 in platinum difficulty.

Though the low rating is pretty much in line with my own personal rating, due to the length of time and the effort that went into obtaining the platinum (9 different endings, seriously?!), the game is definitely one I’m proud to have the platinum on.

Glancing over my platinum trophy list, there are a few on there that I can’t say stretched my abilities too much, but I’m proud of and pleased to have on my list. In this article, I’ll give you pointers on which games to look at that’ll help boost your platinum ego.

1. The Walking Dead

If you haven’t playing Telltale’s offering to The Walking Dead universe, then you are sorely missing out. I’ve already written a review waxing lyrical about how much I love the series, but it has the added benefit of being an easy platinum trophy. The game rewards you heavily for simply playing; there are no choice based trophies, and all trophies are obtained throughout the course of the game. Simply play the game to the end and you will be granted the platinum trophy, and can rest assured that you’ve played one of the best games ever to be created.

2. Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom

Majin wasn’t a game I was familiar with until I saw it featured on a list of easily obtained platinum trophies. The premise of the game is essentially that a young boy sets out to free the world of the darkness that is taking it over, and in his quest is joined by a strange monster, Majin. Though the end of the game required quite a lot of grinding to level up, and to make sure I’d used each type of attack enough, nothing stands out as having stood in the way of the platinum. Majin was a fairly enjoyable action adventure game, with an engaging storyline, and worth a play.

3. L.A. Noire

First off, L.A. Noire is a simply breathtaking game, one of my favourites of the last generation of consoles, if not of all time. The fact that the platinum trophy is also fairly straight forward also adds to the allure of the game.

4. Any game from the LEGO series

The LEGO series of games are dangerously addictive, and easy platinum trophies to boot. The only danger with the games is that they are somewhat prone to glitches, so always worth treading with caution. I personally had to play LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 twice due to a glitch, but due to the fun nature of the games and the sheer replayability factor, what could have been a laborious task was actually still fun. The more recent LEGO games also have the bonus of having separate trophy lists for PS3 and PS Vita.

5. Heavy Rain

Another brilliant game which essentially allows you to get trophies as you play. A walkthrough may be needed as you replay to mop up trophies based on certain decisions, but there are plenty out there. Again, there aren’t really any difficulty based trophies to worry about, so you’ll be rewarded for completing the game (albeit several times).

Games

Eurogamer 2013: Assassin’s Creed 4, The Sims 4 and LEGO Marvel

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Having gone to Eurogamer with the intentions of sampling some games I might not otherwise entertain, I walked around spying the likes of FIFA 14, Forza, Minecraft, and thought “Not really my thing. Best to stick to what I know I like.”

What I know I like is Assassin’s Creed, so I headed to the demo booth to play the new title, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. The queue was a little daunting, with some people criticising the gameplay of those already participating the demo. One comment that I overheard was, “That guy’s a retard.. He’s died three times in two minutes.”

As I neared the beginning of the queue I prayed that I would be on a station that others couldn’t see; my assassin skills in AC:3 left a lot to be desired, and I really struggled with the change in combat mechanics. As luck would have it, I was ushered to a TV and console (PS4 again, that race is yours, Sony) which was in full view of the queuing public.

As the demo started, it was a bit of a let down. Not in technical terms, but the demo didn’t really ask you to do anything specific. Whereas Tearaway and Octodad took you through a mission, AC:4 just left you to your own devices. I spent much of my time sailing around, before attacking a passing ship (I won the battle, thankfully), but was all too aware that I wasn’t experiencing much on the ground stuff.

I hopped off the ship and swam to the nearest island. The water mechanics in the game are breathtaking; there was a tide, meaning I had to swim faster just to get anywhere, and there were also some quite big waves. Sitting about a foot away from the scene, I can honestly say I was getting a bit seasick. Once on the island, I headed towards the nearest synchronisation point, because, well, it’s Assassin’s Creed, and you’ve just got to really. As I got to the top of the point and looked around, I could see just how spectacular the graphics were, and just how much effort has gone into the game. Definitely one to get excited about.

Sticking with my theme of “what I know I like”, I joined the main arena and headed to the eight or so computer stations showing The Sims 4. I’d have liked a demo of the gameplay, like in The Sims and The Sims 2, with good old Bella and Mortimer Goth (or their new generation equivalents, but there is plenty of time for that between now and the 2014 release the game is currently slated for.

The demo was in fact, the create-a-Sim screen. Plenty of fun to be had, and I’ve spent more time than I care to mention creating Sims in the past. The create-a-Sim screen of The Sims 4 really shows just how far the game has come. You can customize every inch of your Sim, from pupil size, to the way they walk, as well as some of the same old features; athleticism, bust size etc.

As I’ve already said, I would have liked the demo to show a bit more of the new features the game has to offer, especially surrounding the new ways of interacting with people and how moods affect certain situations. What I did play was enough to get me excited about The Sims 4, and the potential it has.

To round off my Eurogamer experience I spent some time with LEGO Marvel Superheroes. If there’s anything I love, it’s a LEGO game, and LEGO Marvel looks set to build my infatuation.

Capitalising on the continued success of superhero films, LEGO and Travellers Tales have ventured into creating favourite Marvel characters as little blockheads. I was lucky enough to play a level in story mode and then experience all free-play has to offer. Though a lot of the characters were unlocked, I am looking forward to seeing which characters made the cut and we’ll get to experience in LEGO form.

LEGO Marvel follows the same game mechanics as previous LEGO games, continuing with the new introduction of voices for the characters. I anticipate enjoying the game, I’ve never been disappointed with a LEGO title, and with a different trophy lists for PS Vita and PS3, am looking forward to having two new platinum trophies in the bag.

Games

GTA IV: The game that changed my life

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In 2008 my boyfriend came home with the bright idea of buying a PS3. Never one to think about huge purchases, I soon agreed and it wasn’t long before we were in the town centre figuring out which deals were best, and eventually the console was purchased.

One of the games we’d bought was GTA IV. I’d dabbled previously in GTA games but never really persevered with one long enough for it to have made much of an impact. GTA IV was a different story. From the moment I saw it being played I knew I wanted to be involved.

I spent most of my free time playing the game after that. When I wasn’t doing work for my university course, or at classes, I wanted to be playing GTA IV. I became so ridiculously immersed in the game, I started talking in a Russian accent just like Niko. My flatmate said she always knew when I was playing because she’d hear me shouting and swearing at (and with) the game.

GTA IV is the first game I can remember getting emotionally invested in on such a level that I just didn’t want to play the game anymore, as much as I was enjoying it. Why should I get to play God? Can’t Kate and Roman both live? The choice seemed obvious, family first, but Kate might be the one. I know in the past I’ve harped on about loving games that have decisions in them, but this seemed to be one decision too far. I downed controller shortly after the decision came up. I needed time to think about this.

The decision that followed I have erased from my mind. I think I chose to kill Roman, but I can’t say for sure.

On the cusp of GTA V, I wonder if any game will ever have as much of an impact on me as GTA IV. I can safely say, without it, I wouldn’t be as remotely into gaming as I am now. GTA IV was a real platform for me and launched me from being a casual gamer to whatever I am now. Time will only tell about how GTA V will affect my life, but it sure is exciting waiting to find out.

Game Reviews, Games

Review: 400 Days

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My journey with the Walking Dead began with Telltale Games’ standout game series, released in spring 2012. I’d always meant to start watching the show, start reading the books, but it was the game that really launched me into it.

The game really was everything I’d ever wanted from a game. I remember as a kid picking up a pre-owned copy of Final Fantasy IX, just because it was cheap, then becoming ridiculously excited in the opening scenes. You were asked a question, then given a choice with what to answer with. A choice! The game was giving you options!

From that moment on, I always looked out for games that gave you options. To me, there was (and even, there is) nothing more exciting than shaping the plot of a game. To get a different experience to someone else makes the games more realistic, in my opinion. People’s lives aren’t the same, so why should their game lives be?

The Walking Dead game strikes me as the perfect example of why choice-based games are brilliant. No choice specific trophies means that a platinum was possible even for a trophy whore like myself. The Heavy Rain trophy list meant you couldn’t just stand by your decisions – you had to play through and opt for decisions you’d never made before, but with the Walking Dead, you really have to live with the consequences of your actions.

Brilliant voice acting and a fantastic storyline really made me love the Walking Dead game. In a list of my favourite games of 2012, it would definitely be in the top five, if not taking the top spot for itself.

It was set to be a long wait between season 1 and season 2, when the 400 Days DLC pack was announced.

The DLC is set at various points after the initial outbreak of walkers, and is from the viewpoints of five different characters. The game mechanics are exactly the same, unfortunately down to the lags at crucial points. The five character viewpoint shows you how the outbreak has affected those from all walks of life, from the schoolboy to the criminal.

As an introduction to new characters, 400 Days works perfectly, giving away just enough of each character’s pasts to leave you intrigued. My only criticism, lagging aside, is that by spreading the already short DLC across five characters, you don’t really have much time to really grow attached to any of the characters. Sure, after playing there are characters I have a soft spot for, but none of them come close to the torch I was holding for Lee or Clem at the end of the first episode of the first season.

What I really love about 400 Days, and about the series as a whole, is the immediacy with decision making. This can lead to some decisions being made that you will later fully regret, but what a parallel to real life!

400 Days has fully whetted my appetite for the Walking Dead game franchise once more, and I know will spawn many more conversations between my friends once they get round to playing the game. I look forward to seeing how the new characters will deal with the wide world, and just where they’re headed to and what’s waiting for them there.

Games

The Last of Us: Be as good as me!

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My superior Last of Us multiplayer skills have led to an article request for tips on how to be as good as me at Naughty Dog’s latest hit.

So, just for you, here are my five top tips for Faction superstardom:

1. The shiv is your friend

Stealth is key to getting through most multiplayer games. I always have a shiv in my loadout, ready for those stealthy attacks. The name “jadeypops” is feared throughout the Last of Us community for shivving prowess alone.

2. The art of “sly bastarding”

Mic up, britches! It’s time to learn the “sly bastard”. This sneaky move makes full use of gaming headsets, or if those aren’t available, Skype. The “sly bastard” essentially involves using one team member to lure opponents to a window or doorway, then the remaining team members pop out from said window or doorway, and obliterate the enemy. The sly bastards. This one needs practice, but reaps major results.

3. Supply raid over survivor when it counts

Of the two multiplayer modes, I have to say that I prefer survivor mode. It’s quicker, more exciting and everything can change round by round. Supply raid is good for practicing when you’re just starting out in the multiplayer world as you get more respawns and therefore more chances to practice. It is for this reason, I would suggest opting for supply raid when you are faced with a mission that threatens 100% of your clan. More respawns means more chances to hit the criteria.

4. Hold out for the sweetest win

There’s two of you, one of them and a minute left on the clock. You should run and find them, right? Wrong! You should find a safe corner, hide and wait for the timer to run out so you win by default. Winning by default, the sweetest win.

5. Listen!

God gave us ears so you could see a fuzzy white outline of your enemy from far away. So use them. Hold that R2 and listen. Don’t know where the enemy is? Have a cheeky listen. Can only account for three enemies? Have a listen. LISTEN!

Disclaimer: This article could not be more tongue in cheek if I tried, and was written completely for fun. I am fully aware that I am completely average at this game. Should you wish to test how average I am, add me on PSN, username: jadeypops.

Games, Platinum Review

Platinum series: Where to start

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Write about what you know, they always say. Well, what I know is trophy whoring, and you know what? I don’t even care. I’m here to share my wisdom, so that we all might learn and help grow our trophy scores. This series of articles features top tips for choosing your game, a suggestion of selection of games to get you started on your platinum journey, and games to definitely avoid if your goal is 100% completion.

So, to get us started, this week are my top tips for trophy hunting.

1. Do your research

I cannot emphasise this step enough. You wouldn’t believe the amount of games I’ve nearly played, thinking they’ll be a walk in the park, an easy platinum (or an “EP” as we in the trophy trade call them), only to find out it’ll take 40 hours, and I’ll probably never get the platinum due to a potential glitch. This stage is where PS3 Trophies is your friend. Search any game on the website, and you’ll find a guide created by a fellow hunter detailing the best route to the platinum, along with a difficulty rating that has been voted on by those who have played and an estimated time of completion. Whilst perusing the website, it is key to search the forums. Many a time I have come across something which I think looks doable, only to find out that many other gamers have struggled through parts of the game.

2. Source your games

LoveFilm was a real friend of mine in my heaviest stage of platinum farming. After searching a number of lists for the easiest and quickest platinums, I had a shortlist of games to attempt. I selected a LoveFilm package which allowed me to get a game and a film at a time, and added the whole host of games to my rental list. The key to getting my money’s worth was to make sure there was a quick turnaround of games, this also benefitted my platinum cause greatly. Unfortunately LoveFilm has decided from August it will no longer offer a games rental service. Quick research shows Blockbuster are still offering game rentals on a similar package (£9.99 for unlimited rentals, two discs at a time) – their website even declares “We Still Rent Games!“ If this Blockbuster service isn’t an option, you can always try buying secondhand through Amazon or eBay, then sell the game on once completed, though you may lose money through this route.

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3. Plan your route

Before you start the game, unless you mind playing a clean-up game, it is a good idea to read a roadmap of the best way to proceed. The roadmaps on PS3 Trophies are designed to guide you through the quickest route to the platinum trophy, along with guides for collectables and any pointers for missable trophies. Search forums of games on the website to see if there are any glitches which can be used to your advantage, as they are possible.

4. Enjoy the game

Or try to, at least. I find that if I know I’m going to get a platinum, it makes playing a game I wouldn’t ordinarily play a little better. There’s nothing worse than forcing yourself to traipse through a game you really hate, so make sure you think you’ll be able to put up with whatever you play before you start. Nobody likes 2% trophy lists.

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My favourite plot twists

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Last week I treated myself to a marathon session of Gossip Girl, fitting in the final series in two night time sittings. The end of the series left me in shock as it was finally revealed after six seasons in the running.

The reveal got me thinking about my favourite plot twists in popular culture, and I’ve picked my top five as listed below.

Obviously, this article contains spoilers, so be warned.

1. Dan Humphrey is Gossip Girl (Gossip Girl)

Not the obvious choice, but I definitely didn’t see it coming. There was a brief moment where the thought entered my mind I thought it could be possible, but discarded the idea, because “It’s Gossip Girl.” I was definitely left with my mouth wide open when it was revealed that it had been Lonely Boy all along who was the words behind Manhattan’s favourite gossip hound.

2. Scott Shelby is the Origami Killer (Heavy Rain)

Another reveal which came and hit me straight in the face. Heavy Rain enthralled me from the get go, and I enjoyed the narrative style and the playing from the viewpoint of the four main characters. It never occurred to me that the man we were all trying to hunt down was in fact one of the protagonists.

3. Cole Phelps dies (L.A. Noire)

After playing through an entire game as a character, I like to feel that I’ve bonded with them. Sure, I might not approve of all of their life choices (having an affair, Phelps, really?), but nevertheless, we’d been through a lot together. Imagine my surprise when Cole Phelps, out of nowhere, was washed away by a flood in the sewage system. What a way to go. A definite jaw-open, controller gripping moment, and I’m pretty sure a lot of expletives left my mouth in that moment.

Cole Phelps meets his demise

4. We’re all infected (The Walking Dead)

I didn’t find out this gem in the Walking Dead series in the conventional manner. I was a little late to the party on this one, and found out through playing the Telltale Games series rather than through the graphic novels or television show. I was seriously shocked when this bombshell came hurtling my way, and was left worrying about the characters in the television show and the game. It was interesting knowing the information before the television show characters, but boy, was I relieved when they found out. I can’t handle that much knowledge on my own.

5. Eddard Stark is killed (Game of Thrones)

I’m not going to lie to you – I was devastated when the Stark patriarch and all-round hero of Westeros was beheaded in season one of Game of Thrones, and I was devastated again when I read the book. I think it’s just one of those things I’ll never get over, like when Heroes was cancelled. I soon learnt the harsh rules of this game of thrones, and each death gets a little easier.

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My name’s Jade, and I’m a trophy whore…

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I have a problem, a real problem. It’s not one I’m ever likely to do anything about, but just as long as we’re all aware of it. I’m a trophy whore.

My platinum trophy addiction started basically the moment I got my PS3. I had already been made familiar with the trophy system, as I had been sharing my boyfriend’s console, but by the time I got my own way back in 2009, trophies were compulsory for game developers to put in, and that’s really where it all began.

To begin with my addiction had started as a bit of a joke between myself and my boyfriend, then as more of my friends started getting PS3’s there were more people to compete with. I would do anything to make sure I had a better trophy level than them.

Trophies

As time went on, and I became more desperate for platinum trophies to add to my collection, I was becoming less discerning with my choice in games. This remains a standing joke for my friends. LoveFilm has become a real friend of mine, providing me with an endless source of games.

This spirit of competition is still what drives part of my never-ending hunt for platinum trophies, but it has become much more than that.

Platinum trophy hunting really makes you get the most out of a game. Sure, I didn’t need to collect tons of feathers just to see how much effort had gone into making Assassin’s Creed 2, but I did and I got a bronze trophy for it (even if at the time I thought “A bronze trophy? Are you kidding me?”). Trophy hunting means you see more of the map, spend more time in different game modes, basically stretch the game for all it’s worth and squeeze every last ounce of game-play out of it.

Trophy hunting serves to make me a better gamer. Would I bother playing the game on the hardest difficulty if I weren’t going to ultimately get a nice gold trophy for it? Probably not, let’s be honest. I push myself to my limits for trophies – the limits being ability, and more importantly patience – there have been a lot of growling and throwing the controller on the bed moments.

Trophy hunting has also led me to play a lot of games I wouldn’t play which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’d never heard of Sly Cooper until one day when I was perusing a list of “Easy Platinum Trophies” (it really is a lifestyle choice), but was glad to have played, and enjoyed it even if it seems a little dated in terms of graphics.

Do I have any regrets? Only one – Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust, a real drain on the enthusiasm I had for gaming and only an 8% trophy score to show for it. If you haven’t played this game – don’t. Everything about it is terrible. I couldn’t wait to get it out of my house.

For all my talk about trophy whoring, you’ve got to remember that I am a gamer, and I do play serious games. There’s no way you’d ever catch me not playing a game because I won’t be able to platinum it. I know there is basically no chance of me ever gaining the platinum on most of the games I play, but I play them anyway, platinum trophies don’t rule my life.

Trophy card

To end with an anecdote; imagine me, in my summer of unemployment, returning to Blockbuster to renew my rental on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 1 (the game):

Blockbuster man: “You can just put returns in the postbox.”
Me: “I’m not returning, I want to take it out again please.”
Blockbuster man: “I didn’t think it took that long to complete.”
Me: “I finished the storyline, but didn’t get all the trophies.”
Blockbuster man: “Oh! You’re a…. platinum lady!”

Yes, that’s me. The platinum lady.