Sunday, January 17, 2016

GTASC 2016: Week 1 Report

It's finally 2016, so it's time for the next round of the Great TrueAchievements Score Challenge.  Teams are back up to four members this year, and Team Lazy Eye is looking to improve on last year's 75th percentile performance (our best one so far).

In addition to scoring as much as possible, I plan to write up little summaries of my performance each week, including brief descriptions of my thoughts along the way.  Mini achievement-oriented reviews in a sense.

Here's what I was playing this week:

Gems of War - 735 TA Score - Despite getting lots of praise, I was never a big fan of the Puzzle Quest formula.  Taking turns matching gems on the same board as your opponent encourages you to make matches specifically to prevent big combos instead of trying to set them up yourself.  It can lead to profoundly frustrating gameplay, as the random gems that refill the board dominate can create losses out of nowhere and some real feel-bad moments.

Gems of War doesn't really expand on that premise in any meaningful way, but it was a free game and reasonably mindless, so I got into it.  The downside?  It took me nearly 120 hours to reach level 100, which earned me the final achievement in the game.  It has a fantastic TA ratio (7.35), which is awesome, but it required many hours of mind-numbing grinding this week (and in the weeks prior).

Neverwinter - 176 TA Score - Neverwinter is a pretty reasonable MMORPG, especially for a free console title.  The latest updates have added some pretty disappointing content (unabashedly repetitive questlines, for one), but it's good for some serious TA Score if you can dedicate the time to grind up in levels.

Most of what I've done with Neverwinter this week was daily Guild quests to farm Guild Marks, Along the way, I completed 10 normal dungeons and finished killing the required number of giants and trolls to earn three achievements.  Not huge, but my main character is tantalizingly close to the level cap, which will unlock a lot more content and allow me to nab several more achievements.  Looking forward to that in the next few weeks.

Rare Replay - 1708 TA Score - This was the big one this week.  A collection of a ton of classic Rare games (though sadly not the most iconic Rare games in my mind, the Donkey Kong Country series, for obvious trademark reasons), Rare Replay has a lot going for it.  To be totally honest, though, a lot of the early stuff hasn't aged very well at all.  Even so, I'd definitely say it's worth the investment.

On the achievement front, I focused on Snapshots (little challenge levels specially designed for the older games), Gunfright, and Snake Rattle N Roll.

Gunfright and Snake Rattle N Roll are both perfect examples of games that haven't aged well, but the save and rewind features make the achievements for those games trivial.  They're not terribly time-consuming, either, as I spent less than 2 hours on each of those games.

Snapshots can be very challenging, as you can't save or rewind, so you have to do it all legit.  Still, with some practice (and occasionally a good guide), I was able to knock several of them out this week.

Just Dance 2014 - 9 TA Score - I've been a fan of rhythm games since I first played DDR back in high school.  The more recent motion-sensing dance games scratch that same itch, albeit in a different way.  Another upside of Kinect games is that they typically have pretty inflated TA Ratios, so they're great for a competition like the GTASC.

This week's achievement was just liking a dance video that somebody uploaded, so it required minimal effort (for a surprising Ratio of 1.77), but I also worked on earning stars, inching closer to the achievements for earning 3 and 5 stars on all songs.

And that was it for this week.  The GTASC is a marathon competition, as it lasts all year, so I'm trying to pace myself a bit.  As a result, I've spent a lot of time grinding towards big achievements instead of rushing full speed ahead.  Looking forward to an epic performance this year.

Anyway, that's what I've been up to this week, what have you been playing this week?

Until next time, have a good one!

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